Enjoy delicious coffee in a retro cafe! Five Select Cafes in Renovated Traditional Homes in Tokyo
Kominka (old Japanese-style house) cafes have a relaxed air, as if you have traveled in time back to old Japan. These cafes are created by renovating kominka that were actually lived in, and have a nostalgic, comforting feel. Here are some kominka cafes recommended for a quiet break from the day.
1. Kayaba Coffee
This is a cafe that has been beloved ever since it opened in 1938. It was forced to close its doors temporarily at one time, but was later renovated by a group of devotees and reopened in 2009. The interior has been designed in a modern style while maintaining the facade of the 1916 building and the old chairs and tableware and is a must see. The first floor has a counter and tables, and the second floor has zashiki-style seating on tatami mats. On the second floor, special effort has been made to keep the atmosphere of the time that the cafe first opened. The light that shines in through the large antique window sets the stage for a comfortable stay. The most popular menu item is the egg sandwich (500 JPY (incl. tax))! The egg is warm and the mustard mayonnaise has a flavor that can get one hooked. One can't help but smile when biting into the egg salad sandwich while engulfed by the warm rays of the sun in the zashiki-style room.
This is a hidden gem of a cafe in the residential neighborhood of Mejiro. The small cafe, which you enter after taking your shoes off at the entrance, has about eight seats. What a luxury to have a leisurely snack of Japanese sweets and matcha tea while enjoying the courtyard from a cozy interior. This shop is actually usually a kimono shop, so the cafe is only open from 4 to 8 days every month. There are displays of kimono accessories, kimono, and obi sashes in the cafe, which you are and to pick up and feel. This is a kominka cafe where you can experience an old Japanese-style house, but also be casually exposed to kimono culture. It is highly recommended for those interested in kimono.
This was originally a private tearoom built in 1954 by the owner of the house. In 1999, it was renewed as a tea shop & gallery due to a decrease in the number of people living in the house. The exhibits in the gallery change by season, and there are additional events, such as exhibitions and rakugo (comedic storytelling), held in the rental area. The popular menu item at this artsy cafe is the anmitsu (830 JPY) with agar jelly, green peas, fruit and azuki bean paste! Enjoy it with plenty of black sugar syrup. This is a great place to enjoy sweets and a variety of exhibits and events in a building with refined atmosphere.
This is a hideaway-like kominka cafe in the back streets of Nishi-Ogikubo. This kominka was was built in the early Showa era (1926 - 1989). Craftsmen were invited from Shimane to work on renovating the building in preparation for its opening as a cafe. In addition to the cafe, exhibits and sales of miscellaneous items and clothing, as well as workshops, are held in the building. Re:gendo is managed by Iwami-Ginzan Seikatsu Bunka Kenkyusho, a corporation which "proposes a lifestyle of living with roots," primarily headquartered in Shimane. This is a place where you can thoroughly experience the benefits of a Japanese lifestyle through not only the cafe, but also the exhibits.
5. Shouwanoie Engawa Cafe
Shouwanoie is a kominka in a Western-style building built in the 14th year of Showa (1939). It was registered as a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan in 2013, but the owner still lives there. The engawa porch seating in the cafe, from which you can see the large garden that the owner tends, is recommended. The building is 270 square meters, so it is not only a kominka, but also a mansion. In addition to the cafe, there is rental space and a photo studio. Relax in the luxuriously spacious kominka cafe and all your travel weariness will be washed away.
There is much of interest in kominka cafes with the different histories of the buildings,and the varying thoughts and aspirations that go into the cafes by those who manage them. Please give them a try.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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