Go Back in Time for a Meal at Old-Style Japanese Houses
Social media is saturated with café hoppers on the constant lookout for the next foodie trend. Nowadays it’s all about finding the trendiest cafes and leading the crowd with as many posts of fashionable food you can find. Whether it’s rainbow-colored cotton candy or majestic soufflé pancakes, Tokyo is a hotspot for modern, popular eating spots.
Despite the burgeoning number of hipster cafes, however, some age-old places refuse to be left behind in obscurity. Look carefully, and you’ll discover some hidden gems in old-style Japanese houses around Tokyo. There are still many cafes and coffee shops that continue to run in kominka (traditional Japanese homes), with a long history of serving customers for decades.
Nestled in its own leafy enclave, Kosaen is like a completely different world from the trendy neighborhood of Jiyugaoka it’s located in. The teahouse was built back in the Showa era in 1954, co-founded by the son-in-law of the famous novelist Natsume Soseki. You can enjoy classic Japanese desserts like anmitsu together with rich green tea, surrounded by antiques of the past. The house is an antique itself, providing its inhabitants with shelter and comfort for generations.
Kosaen official site: http://kosoan.co.jp/
Address: Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Jiyugaoka 1-24-23
This quirky café is easy to miss if you don’t look carefully. Completely shrouded in leaves, the small door peeks out of a small patch to welcome you into this old, cozy house. Mugimaru 2 sets itself apart with its menu that specializes in manju, traditional steamed buns. The interior is filled with oddly charming knick-knacks, most given as gifts from friends and customers. Sometimes the owner’s cat comes to hang out in the café too, so if you’re lucky you might find yourself a feline companion during your visit.
Mugimaru 2 official site: http://www.mugimaru2.com/
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 5-20
After you’ve had a delicious teatime, how about a walk around the garden? This elegant house in Mejiro takes pride in their Japanese garden, which flourishes with flowers every season of the year. Kasoyo was originally a kimono shop; with their history dating from the Taisho period, to this day they continue to sell and exhibit exquisite kimono as well as hold kimono-wearing classes. Soak in the rich culture of traditional Japan while sampling the delicate wagashi on their menu.
Kasoyo official site: http://kasoyo.com/
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shimo-ochiai 2-19-21
If you’ve ever wanted to experience staying in a big Japanese home, Momo Garten will welcome you into their bright, airy space in Nakano. Here, the owner serves hot cups of coffee and tea while reminiscing about the old days of the café, almost 70 years after it was built. It’s a warm and relaxing place for you to enjoy a lazy tea time with homemade cake and a view of the biotope outside the café.
Momo Garten official site: https://www.facebook.com/momogarten
Address: Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Chuo 2-57-7
A meal at Nanten Cafe feels like a meal with family. The café owners keep their small space snug and homey, so you can sit on the tatami mats and take your time to enjoy the satisfying homemade food and desserts. With a variety of ingredients that change every season, there’s bound to be something to whet your appetite. Come here to have a Japanese home-style meal in a buzzing atmosphere!
Nanten Cafe official site: http://www.nantencafe.com/
Address: Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Kanamecho 1-10-7
These cafes may be old and weathered, but they prove to have timeless popularity with countless visitors looking for a hearty meal or snack. Modern sweets and snacks are fun, but there’s also an old-fashioned charm that you won’t be able to find anywhere else other than these time-honoured places.
Photos by Sharuru
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