Are you guys ready for an incredibly vivid retelling of one of the most memorable mornings of my life? I hope so. There’s no question that I love two things very much: Osomatsu-san and crepes. Crepes are the very foundation of Japanese desserts in my humble opinion, as they take what the French do but make it even better. That’s right, I said Japanese crepes are better than French crepes. (For what it’s worth, the last crepe I had in France was when I was 12.)
Thankfully for me, crepes are not exempt from the Osomatsu-san nationwide-domination that Japan (and more specifically, Tokyo) has experienced since 2015. CharaCre is a crepe stand on Harajuku’s Takeshita Street (which is hell on Earth to an introvert like me) that always has some sort of collaboration going. Yes, the name is a weird portmanteau of character and crepe. CharaCre is sort of branch-off satellite outfit of Marion Crepes, a reputable crepe stand with shops from Harajuku to the base of Tokyo Tower. Same great crepes, just with character motifs.
Most people don’t go to CharaCre for the crepes, though. The incentive behind these collaborations is generally the exclusive merchandise that you can get only if you purchase food. Osomatsu-san being the merchandising beast that it is, on a Saturday morning I – and many, many other girls – lined up bright and early to… wait to get inside CharaCre.
“What kind of idiot waits outside a crepe stand 90 minutes before it opens?” You ask. The answer is me and about 50 other people. I can’t reinforce this enough: after 10am, Takeshita Street is hell and I didn’t want to be stuck in it. Imagine the worst traffic jam of your life, just with people. If you’re one of those people that likes to walk fast, consider never going to Takeshita Street. Anyway, I arrived at CharaCre at around 8:30 despite the 10am open, and was handed the “end of line” sign by an elderly gentleman. I’m not sure who he was, because he completely disappeared after handing me the sign.
In no time, another girl arrived behind me and I handed her the sign. All I could do for 90 minutes was wait, wait, wait. Once doors had opened, it took me about another half hour to enter the shop, which was adorably decked out with Osomatsu-san cardboard cutouts and decor. There was a limit of ordering 2 of each exclusive item, sodas and crepes. I ordered two sodas: Choromatsu and Karamatsu’s, and ordered Osomatsu’s crepe. For spending however much money, I was given some coasters, a postcard, and also purchased 6 (blindly packaged) buttons.
When I sat down, I was shocked to see the entire dining area become a big trading room. It reminded me of the stock market you see in movies, where people are just hollering at each other, except it was Japanese girls politely trading with each other. I mimed the actions of those around me (pro-tip: this is THE best thing you can do in any situation if you’ve been studying Japanese for years but are still not confident enough to speak it… like me) and laid my badges and coasters out on the table. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to approach me (pro-tip #2: Japanese can be shy approaching foreigners outside of touristy areas, don’t take it personally) but miraculously I actually got some bites. I traded my extra Ichimatsu badge for an Osomatsu (for a friend), traded some coasters, and even made a girl’s day by agreeing to trade my Karamatsu postcard for her Choromatsu one. I then traded that postcard for a different coaster I was after.
As an aside, trading is immensely fun, and is what made the experience such a blast for me. Usually cafe collaborations ban trading on their premises, so it can be difficult to find trades even when you have a hot item. I really respect that CharaCre was cool with their sit-down area being a place to trade!
When I felt content with everything, I finally left. Holy cow, the line was so long. I imagine that the people who arrived there after doors opened had to wait at least two hours to get inside, which is longer than I had to wait in total to get inside.
Lesson learned: arrive early!!! Even if there’s no line, you can bum around until one starts to form. I hope this entry was entertaining or even helpful to you! Which food item do you think looks the best?