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[Tokyo] 5 Recommended Coffee Houses with Retro Showa-Era Appeal

A new kissaten (Japanese cafe) almost seems to open somewhere in Tokyo every day. At the same time, there are some that have been operating in the same place for decades. This article introduces some recommended retro kissa to go to.

What is a Retro Kissa?

A "retro kissa" is a kissaten (a Japanese tea and coffee parlor) with a long history. With classical exteriors that look like they are from a time past, and interiors decorated with old wooden furnishings and gorgeous chandeliers, they attract people for their nostalgic ambiances. They usually serve items associated with the past, such as "Napolitan" (a Japanese-style spaghetti sauteed with onions, green peppers, ham, and ketchup) and huge parfaits. Some are open early and offer "morning" sets for breakfast. Many retro kissa do not have separated smoking areas, so if you'd prefer not being near smokers, be sure to check before going.

1. Try the Melon Parfait at Coffee Seibu (Shinjuku)

Coffee Seibu is a kissaten that opened in 1964. It has a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere with eye-catching stained-glass ceilings. There is a separated floor for smokers, and WiFi and outlets are conveniently available. The recommended menu item is the Melon Parfait (1,100 JPY (incl. tax))! It is a great treat that is popular on social media for its volume and appearance.

1. Try the Melon Parfait at Coffee Seibu (Shinjuku)

Metro House 2F, 3-34-9 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

2. Relax While Listening to Requested Music at Lion (Shibuya)

This is a famous kissaten that has been a place of relaxation for classical-music lovers for more than 90 years. Their dedication to music is such that loud conversations are forbidden. Famous classical music is played from a super-sized speaker in the middle of the cafe, and requests are accepted when there is no ongoing concert. This is a wonderful place to relax with the signature hot coffee (600 JPY) that the owner prepares themselves.

2. Relax While Listening to Requested Music at Lion (Shibuya)

2-19-13 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

3. The Best Place to Try the Popular Retro Kissa Dish "Napolitan" – Arai (Ebisu)

Arai has been in business near the West Exit of Ebisu Station for approximately 60 years. The disco ball that hangs from the ceiling gives this cafe a nostalgic, Showa Era (1926-1989) feel. The cafe's No. 1 recommendation is the Showa Era Napolitan (900 JPY). It is made with a tomato ketchup with little acidity and is popular for its mild flavors.

3. The Best Place to Try the Popular Retro Kissa Dish "Napolitan" – Arai (Ebisu)

Arai Bldg. 1F, 1-3-9 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

4. Oka, a Gorgeous Retro Kissa With a Chandelier (Okachimachi)

Oka is not to be missed if you want to go to a "retro-gorgeous" kissaten. It has been in business for over 55 years near the popular tourist destination Ameya Yokocho, and it gives off a feel of the past. The dazzling chandelier that adorns the interior is definitely worth a look! The Morning Service sets (480 JPY and up) consisting of a drink, boiled egg, and sandwich or toast are available in early hours.

4. Oka, a Gorgeous Retro Kissa With a Chandelier (Okachimachi)

Onaka Bldg. B1F, 6-5-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo

5. A Mountain Cabin in the City? Sabouru, Established 65 Years Ago (Jimbocho)

Sabouru is distinguished by its unique, cabin-like appearance with log eaves and beams. The interior is dimly lit, and the stone walls are covered with graffiti from past customers – reading them can make you feel like you have traveled back in time. The recommended menu item here is the Pizza Toast (600 JPY (incl. tax) and up), or thickly sliced toast covered in copious amounts of cheese and vegetables.

5. A Mountain Cabin in the City? Sabouru, Established 65 Years Ago (Jimbocho)

1-11 Kanda Jinbo-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Did you find a retro kissa you'd like to go to? Each has its unique qualities, so be sure to go and enjoy them.

*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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