It was literally just a few days ago that we were all excited about the announcement of some new menu items at Japan’s Gundam Cafes which recreate food and drinks seen within the hit mecha franchise. And while we’re still looking forward to trying them, no matter what seasonings the chefs use we’re pretty sure their flavor is going to be bittersweet, because they might be the last meals we ever have at the anime eateries.
Right now, there are four Gundam Cafes in Japan. Two of those are in Tokyo (one in otaku mecca Akihabara and the other in Odaiba, right next to the full-scale Unicorn Gundam statue), the second is in Osaka, and the fourth is in Fukuoka. On Nov 1, though, came the sudden announcement that all four of them will be closing permanently in less than three months.
No reason for the closure has been given, but it’s likely that the severe travel downturn caused by the pandemic played a large part in the decision. All of the cafes are located in neighborhoods that, under normal public health conditions, receive large numbers of visitors not only from other parts of Japan, but from overseas as well, with even non-otaku tourists often wanting to take a peek at the fan culture of Akihabara or gaze up at the Odaiba Gundam’s transforming (but not Transformer) face.
The shutdown brings to a close more than a decade of Gundam Cafe history, and the chain took a moment to thank its fans while breaking the news:
“We opened our first cafe in Akihabara in April of 2010, and our customers have supported us at every step along the way. On behalf of our entire staff, we are more grateful to you than words can express.
We don’t have much time left, but we will continue doing our utmost so that everyone who visits can have wonderful memories to take home, and we hope you’ll enjoy yourselves at our cafes right up until the very end.”
▼ The closing of the Akihabara branch will also be the end of the attached Zeon’s Diner Tokyo and Fortunelatte Caffe takeout counter.
There is a sliver of hope in that the announcement ends with “Please look forward to our next project,” so maybe we’ll see the restaurant chain make a comeback like Sega recently did after closing one of its most famous Tokyo landmark arcades.
The last day for Gundam Cafe Osaka will be Jan 10, with Gundam Café Tokyo Brand Core (Akihabara), Gundam Cafe Odaiba, and Gundam Cafe Fukuoka shuttering on Jan30. The cafe at the Gundam Factory Yokohama facility will remain in operation, but only until the end of March 2022, when the entire center will shut down, at which point we’ll have no choice but to subside on those canned Zeon rations.
Source: Gundam Cafe via Hachima Kiko
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