AKB48, Japan’s most popular idol group, gets its name from having 48 core members and being based in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, which is nicknamed Akiba. However, the neighborhood is going to be losing a big piece of its AKB48 connection very soon.
In 2011, the AKB48 Cafe and Shop Akihabara opened right outside JR Akihabara Station, in the wide plaza that spreads out from the rail hub’s northwest exit. The cafe offers casual meals and sweet desserts made according to recipes produced by AKB48’s idol singers, which diners can enjoy while AKB48 songs and videos play on large screens set up around the interior space. There’s also an attached shop with exclusive merchandise, and the cafe also hosts special meet-and-greet events with AKB48 members.
Unlike Japan’s many limited-time themed restaurants, the AKB48 Cafe is a permanent eatery…or at least it was one. However, on November 18 the management crushed the hearts of fans with the unexpected announcement that both the cafe and its attached shop will be closing for good at the end of the year.
The announcement reads:
“Thank you for your continued patronage of the AKB48 Cafe and Shop Akihabara.
We apologize for the suddenness of this announcement, but as a result of planned renovations to the commercial area surrounding JR Akihabara Station, we will be closing permanently on December 31.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the many customers who have visited us in the eight years since our grand opening on September 29, 2011.”
The announcement goes on to say that the management is looking into the possibility of reopening the cafe in a different location at a later date, but right now it’s nothing more than a possibility.
▼ If the news has you feeling down, please self-medicate by listening to the infectutously upbeat AKB48 song “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie.”
On the plus side, Akihabara’s AKB48 theater, which hosts the group’s daily live mini-concerts, will be continuing to operate as normal, since it’s in a part of the neighborhood unaffected by the planned renovations.
However, if you’re a fan who’s been putting off a visit to the AKB48 Cafe, you’ve now only got a few weeks left to do so. Also potentially facing closure is Akihabara’s Gundam Cafe, which occupies a space connected to the AKB48 Cafe, and while the anime robot-themed restaurant has yet to announce that it’s shutting its doors at the end of the year, now is probably the time to visit both of the otaku-oriented cafes.
Sources: AKB48 Cafe and Shop Akihabara via Livedoor News/Nikkan Sports via Jin, Hachima Kiko
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