After thirteen years of silence, in 2107 it was finally announced that the popular anime series Saiyuki inspired by the work of the wonderful illustrator Kazuya Mikekura was going to have another anime serialization based on the final part of the story, which is Saiyuki Reload Blast. Actually, there were very few people who expected Saiyuki to receive another anime serialization due to the fact the manga’s chapters have been very slow to come out since the author has serious health issues. Many fans are still wondering when and if Saiyuki would eventually come to a conclusion. Given the dramatic scenario, a touring Saiyuki event café in Tokyo was even less expected, like a bolt to the blue.
Started in April 2017 in Machida, a city located in the western portion of Tokyo Metropolis, Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café got moved to Ikebukuro, but now it is currently taking place in Harajuku. Future dates and locations for the event haven’t been released yet, but we didn’t want to wait too much so we went to take a look at the restaurant in Ikebukuro. Made with the cooperation of Anime Plaza and taking place in one of the many building belonging to the latter, the Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café was meant to be a big one; for the special occasion, all the floors of Anime Plaza were Saiyuki-themed and almost all the limited-edition merchandise available was dedicated to the anime. Opened in July and lasting one whole month, Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café has been an incredible adventure in the world of Kazuya Minekura’s art. Join us into the journey to the West to find more about it!
Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café Info
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Located on the fourth floor of the Anime Plaza building in Ikebukuro nearby the entrance of the famous underground shopping mall Sunshine City, the entrance for Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café could be reserved for free on the third floor, where the front desk was immersed in all kind of Saiyuki-themed items, dolls, and posters. Next to the front desk, four Saiyuki boys-shaped cutouts dressed like waiters were there to welcome you to Saiyuki’s universe and wished for you to enjoy a good meal. Of course, it was possible to take pictures to and with them while waiting for the time of the reservation to come. Also, it was possible to play with the many candy grabbers toy machines aligned all along the walls, vending not only merchandise of Saiyuki, but also of other anime-of-the-moment.
Once the time had come, we got invited by the staff to line up onthe stairs between the third and the fourth floor, where the entrance to the café was located. Before being allowed in the restaurant, the staff had to verify your reservation and identity, so you will probably be asked to show your residence card – if you have one – or your passport if you decide to take part to the next Saiyuki event. When the procedure was finished, we could finally enter the café. The entrance door, fairly large and decorated to the sides with Saiyuki posters, was the entrance to an amazing world that could made you burst into tears, especially if you are a big fan of Saiyuki. The café isn’t that big, but there were enough seats to host around 30 people. The walls were covered in pictures of the Saiyuki boys, other supportive characters, and enemies, including prince Nataku Taishi. On two sides of the room two big screens made the trailers of the anime glide endlessly, while on the background you could listen to the powerful music from the new anime soundtrack.
On each table, different luncheon mats with on top a different character of the series were placed, and also Konzen Doji, Kenren Taisyo, and Tempo Gensui were part of them. You could choose where to seat, but you couldn’t take the mat with you once you have finished your meal. Luckily, you were given a random one once you left the restaurant. Speaking about meals, food and drinks were a pretty exciting experience, too. All characters-themed, the menu offered a good mix between western and Japanese flavors.
The place is not the only interesting thing about Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café. Indeed, the various events are thought for offering fans the broader range of new merchandise as possible, so many can be purchased at the cafés. In particular, with regards to the event held in Ikebukuro, a vast range of keyholders, badges, and file folders could be bought for prices that ranged from 400 yen to 700. Unfortunately, all the items except for the file folder are randomly chosen, but if you really love Saiyuki, you will probably be fine with all the characters you will get.
Also the menu thought for each café is different since it is meant to let the most passionate fans, who would like to tour together with the event, enjoy the most varied experience possible. At Ikebukuro’s event, it was possible to choose between four different kinds of salty dishes and four desserts, all Saiyuki-themed, of course. As for the salty dishes, dedicated to Goku was a special miso ramen with a bright red soup and golden corn, while dedicated to Sanzo was a set of different kinds of fried fishes, and light purple sakura-flavored rice. Gojyo-themed dish, namely pasta with spicy kimchi, was a flashy red tomato soup, while a vibrant green avocado and shrimp rice pot dish was conceived to recall Hakkai’s features.
On the same wave, the desserts were painted with the Saiyuki boys’ representative colors, so Goku and Gojyo’s parfaits were two huge and delicious ice creams decorated with golden and red fresh fruit and sauces. Buns with sweet beans and a violet sakura-flavored jelly was a very elegant set worthy of the highest rank priest in the whole Asia, but Hakkai-themed green tea ice cream mix was probably the best of all due to being in perfect balance between a typical western dessert and shades of traditional Japan.
As for the drinks, the four kinds proposed were all alcohol-free and fruit-based, so that anyone could enjoy them: ginger ale and orange for Goku-themed drink, while a grapefruit, Calpis, and ice cream drink for our beloved monk. A bloody orange sorbet could only be meant to recall Gojyo’s features, while a more exotic tapioca mixed with white melon and green apple was Hakkai-themed drink. Great about the food and drinks were also the prices; divided in three sections, the menu offered fixed prices for each of the kinds available, so that all drinks were 630 yen, all desserts 780, and all salty dishes 980. With every item you ordered, you received a character coaster. There was a total of eight coasters, depicting both Saiyuki boys in their classical outfits and in waiters’ outfits.
Saiyuki Reload Blast Event Café really was a wonderful experience, so if you are thinking about taking part to the current or the next coming events you should be prepared. Since the places hosting the event are generally pretty small, it is necessary to reserve a table in advance. You can do it in person at the front desk where the event is held, by phone, or on the dedicated website. However, since the website is available only in Japanese, it would probably be better for you to go and make a reservation in person – unless you don’t speak Japanese, of course. Being a very special event, there is a limited amount of time you can enjoy the café. The maximum allowed is up 90 minutes, since from the opening time (10:00) until the closing time (22:30) a new time slot for new visitors will start every hour and half.
Are you a fan of Saiyuki? Well, then you shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to make this wonderful experience before it is too late. Unfortunately, Ikebukuro’s event is already finished, but the Saiyuki tour is far away from being ended, so you will only have to check out when and where the next event will pop out! In particular, if you are in Tokyo now, don’t miss the chance to visit Harajuku! A Saiyuki event in the heart of Lolita fashion’s quarter; what more could you want?