COVID shuts down the cute in Tokyo

Trippy colors - and intensely cute - by design.

This quirky cafe has been one of Tokyo's must-see attractions for years.

But as the global health crisis forced borders to shut - and tourists unable to visit - the Kawaii Monster Cafe closed its doors for good on Sunday (January 31).

Keisuke Yamada is the manager.

"Due to the impact of the coronavirus, it is difficult for overseas customers to come to Japan, and as for domestic customers in Japan it is also difficult for them to go out. Kawaii Monster Cafe is originally a famous place in the Harajuku area, a tourist spot, and I think we are in a difficult position to attract customers these days. I feel it is very hard to keep the business going without knowing how long the current situation will last."

During its five-year run, the cafe was an iconic stop along the Harajuku strip - Tokyo's cultural hotspot among young people there.

It was also symbolic of Japan's celebrated "kawaii" - or cute - pop culture.

Misuzu Kida is among the many fans who came to see the "Monster Girls" - decked out in cosplay - for their final curtain call.

"I have been coming to this place for five years, and I didn't expect today would be the last day. I'm glad that I could come on their final day."

But it's not the first time the cafe had faced closure.

Kawaii Monster shuttered for two and a half months during a state of emergency last year because of the health crisis.

They reopened with shorter hours - and an eye towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics - hoping strong demand would keep them in business.

But the Games were delayed by a year, and so they decided to let their lease lapse.

Sebastian Masuda is the artist who designed the cafe.

He believes that when one door closes - another will open - eventually.

"In Harajuku, regardless of age and era, the younger generations will always create new culture. So I believe that the new younger generation will come up with something interesting again."