Fans of Stranger Things should not miss the pop-up cafe in Shibuya running from July until the end of December. Every corner of this hip Pronto branch in Tokyo has been transformed into the theme of the hit Netflix series, and it does not disappoint.
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Since the cafe pays homage to iconic scenes from season 1 through season 4, there may be some mild spoilers. So if you aren’t up to date yet, enter (and read on) at your own risk.
Enter the Upside Down in Shibuya
A sensory overload of Stranger Things-themed decorations and 1980s USA hits you the moment you step inside Stranger Pronto.
The floor is painted as the pulsating entrance to the Upside Down, and while I didn’t notice this until my second visit, near the doorway there is also knotted sheet hanging from a hole in the ceiling. As those who have seen season 4 know, this is a very cool and subtle reference to how the characters entered and exited the Upside Down in Eddie’s house. There are even mirrors on the ceiling to complete the effect.
To the left of the entrance, there is a “Surfer Boy Pizza” sign (also from season 4) and a Demogorgon wall trick art. The ordering counter also uses the “Surfer Boy Pizza” delivery van as its motif.
Meanwhile, the counter seats are modelled after the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor where Steven and Robin worked in season 3. The staff are either dressed in the parlor’s sailor uniform or the yellow t-shirts of the Surfer Boy pizza place. The disco ball from the 1984 Snow Ball at the end of season 2 dangles above the counter.
Deeper into the cafe there is a bicycle and a sign that says “Welcome to Hawkins,” as well as the ominous grandfather clock that was central to season 4. A Starcourt mall (season 3) neon sign hangs above it.
The main attraction is the wall with Christmas lights strewn across each letter of the English alphabet. Complete with the couch and cassette tapes scattered across a coffee table, it looks almost exactly like Joyce’s living room in season 1. While customers are asked not to touch any of the props, you can sit on the couch for a photo. The lights even periodically flash different colors, as if Will is talking to you from the Upside Down.
Finally, let’s not forget the music. Pumping 80s music from the soundtrack plays continuously, adding to the immersive experience and retro vibe.
The Stranger Things special menu
While you may be tempted to spend all your time fanboying/fangirling over the decor, ordering at least one item is a must. Everything on the special menu is delightfully Stranger Things and/or 80s American-themed. And don’t worry, Japan pulls through with reality meeting expectations in this case too.
First we have the drinks, which include Alexei’s cherry slurpee and Nancy’s Halloween party mocktail. There is also a “Demogorgon dark side mocha” and some good ol’ American creations like banana milkshake and cream soda. You get a free Stranger Things coaster for drinks that you order.
As for food, there is, of course, El’s much-loved Eggos (referred to as waffles on the menu) and the first hamburger she ate when she initially escaped, which comes with a side of fries.
Diners can also enjoy “Demagorgon roast beef pasta,” and “Dustin’s special chocolate pudding parfait.” Lastly, there are a couple of dishes not specifically Stranger Things-themed, like an American salami pizza and scrambled eggs and pancakes.
The cheapest thing on the menu are the drinks, which start 770 yen each. The most expensive are the mains, namely “El’s 1st hamburger” and the “Demagorgon roast beef pasta,” which go for 1,650 yen each. El’s Eggos are priced at 880 yen. (All prices include tax).
So assuming you go for a meal and drink, 2,000-3,000 yen should be more than enough to fill your stomach and enjoy the novelty. Do note that you have to order and pay when you enter the cafe; you cannot add to your order later. So make sure you get everything you want in one go.
You also have the option of buying exclusive pin badges featuring each of the characters from season 4. Each person can purchase a maximum of three badges per slot booked.
My Stranger Things cafe experience
While the cafe was smaller than I expected, it was extremely well-done and so enjoyable I went twice. The first time I went by myself, the second time with a friend. Both times I went on a weekday because it was so much easier to get bookings then.
When I arrived, I lined up outside the cafe, where a staff member checked my booking. I was allowed into the cafe from the hour I booked, on the dot. From there I placed my order at the counter and took a seat wherever I liked. First come, first served.
One thing I quickly noticed was that the vast majority of customers were female. Not only students, but also older working age women. I think there was even a mother who accompanied her daughter there. The men that were there all came with women, even the foreigners. I saw no solo guys or guy groups. The second time I went, the entire timeslot comprised of only women.
People were generally calm and not rabid fanboys/fangirls. Although I’m not sure what the customer base is like on weekends and nights, so YMMV. We had no problems getting photos without other people in our shots.
As with the entry time, the staff are punctual with the end time. They will kick you out after an hour as there are people lining up outside for the next time slot. So it may be a good idea to do your photo-taking early, as most people crowd to the couch for shots at the last minute.
All in all, I rate the Stranger Things pop-up cafe 9/10. I wouldn’t mind going again if I get the chance.
How to make a booking
You can make bookings for the Stranger Things cafe only on the official website, up to 7 days in advance. Bookings are essential, as there is a set number of people for each hourly timeslot and they fill up fast. You can have up to three people per booking.
During the summer holidays, I could not get a booking at all, with the website crashing every midnight when the new slots opened. I even wrote a script in an effort to get a booking, but to no avail. Thankfully, due to popular demand the cafe was extended till end of December, and it became much easier to get bookings after the kiddies went back to school. You should have little problems making a booking on weekdays now.
Getting to the Stranger Things cafe
The Stranger Things cafe reinvents the Pronto branch in the Shibuya Fukuras building into the Upside Down. It is walking distance from Shibuya Station on the JR and other lines.
Address: 東京都渋谷区道玄坂1-2-3 渋谷フクラス1階
Shibuya Fukura 1F, Dogenzaka 1-2-3, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Stranger Pronto is open every day from 10am to 10pm until the end of the year. After that, the cafe will still be open, but presumably just as a normal Pronto branch.
If you’re looking for more interesting theme cafes, particularly in Tokyo, check out the full list of my reviews.