I was out in Yanaka the other day with the intention of going to SCAI The Bathhouse (which was closed again – looks like I missed the recent exhibition although I’m sure it was listed as open on TAB), but this time I came from the main street, Kototoi Dori, instead of through the backstreets where the shrines and temples are, and to make up for my disappointment at not being able to go into the gallery I discovered this great cafe on the corner. I’m sure many of the people who have been to SCAI The Bathhouse are aware of this little gem, although if you don’t pay attention you could dismiss it as just another old style Japanese kissaten. From the outside this what it looks like. Apparently it’s been in business since 1938, but it has recently had new life breathed into it by Yuko Nagayama & Associates architectural firm who have been responsible for the mix of modern and retro inside.
The staff are young and fashionable and the coffee is really good. The homemade cake isn’t bad either, you can get both as a set for about ¥800 as of writing. It seems like a lot of cafe lovers come here to smoke cigarettes and read books while enjoying the atmosphere. The whole building shakes when heavy vehicles pass by and the furniture is just a shade too small for those of us over 6ft, but you put up with that to enjoy what for me is one of the best cafes I’ve been to in Tokyo so far. There are a stack of them in Omotesando, but isn’t that where everybody else goes? I’m taking my laptop next time and I’m going to make the most of my free refills.