Strange characters are not something new to Japan. Sanrio’s anthropomorphic egg, affectionately named “Gudetama” which literally translates to “Lazy Egg” in English is no exception. Gudetama’s cartoon is on in the mornings, and it only runs for about a minute and a half. Before the ending credits, the curtain closes on him and a group of kids say “itterasshai,” followed by a strange man in a full-body yellow suit dancing and wobbling around to the theme song. The character first appeared in 2013 and has been growing in popularity each years.
Gudetama also has many Japanese cultural references. He shows up in traditional Japanese dishes that contain egg. Examples include chuwanmushi, goya chanpuru, tamago-yaki, and and omu-rice. He shows his face when humans are about to eat him, similarly to the Mame-shiba character (a talking bean who has the face of a dog and tells the human a disturbing fact to make them lose their appetite and avoid getting eaten). The human is usually telling Gudetama “Gambatte” or “Do your best” and trying to motivate the lazy egg, who often responds with something like “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’m too tired.” Who would have thought that you could learn about Japanese culture from a complaining, complacent egg?
There is something surreal about Gudetama as well. No matter how many times he gets beaten, fried, poked, and eventually eaten, he reincarnates and returns to earth to spread his message of laziness, apathy, and occasionally having a good time. He’s the Buddha of eggs.
Due to the character’s popularity, a pop-up cafe has opened up in Solamachi, the shopping center under the Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s a very small space with bright yellow walls decorated with Gudetama in his many different forms, doing what he does best: complaining. The Gudetama Cafe features traditional Japanese egg dishes, takoyaki, musubi, and soda floats, all emblazoned with Gudetama’s distressed face on them.
I am quite adventurous when it comes to food, so I ordered the strangest item on the menu…the Gude-sen. The Gude-sen is a half boiled egg, bacon, cabbage, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and aonori seaweed piled onto a giant senbei (rice cracker). There are instructions (complete with pictures) on how to eat the Gude-Sen.
I also ordered a coffee float, of course with gude-tama’s face on the ice cream.
The sandwich was big, messy and difficult to eat, due to the fact that it was sandwiched between two very thin rice crackers. As soon as i bit into it, the crackers broke into several pieces. Despite being extremely messy, it was delicious! It tasted like okonomiyaki (a Japanese pizza of sorts)! I want to say it tasted better than it looked, but actually it looked quite good. Gudetama’s face was made from an edible plastic-like film. I unknowingly removed it from my drink…but i realized halfway through eating my sandwich, that it was edible. At least, I hope it was edible.
The coffee float was what I expected, but they added little mango pearls in the bottom. I noticed the pearls on the menu, but I thought they were meant for the fruit-flavored floats. I didn’t think they would add something mango-flavored to black coffee. Surprisingly, they didn’t affect the taste of the coffee at all, and they didn’t absorb the coffee flavor. I think the yellow mango pearls were supposed to look like little eggs or yolks.
The cafe is only open until the end of July, so go while you have a chance. You can pick up assorted Gudetama merchandise as well. And unlike the fictional character, the food you eat there won’t talk to you, so you can enjoy it to your heart’s content… unless you’re a vegan.