Forget Sutaba; these five cafes provide a comprehensive overview of Tokyo’s unique café culture.
It’s nearly difficult to construct an entire list of all the cafés to visit in Tokyo, but we’ve put together a quick guide for newcomers. The following five cafes will provide you a simple introduction to the capital’s continuously developing café-scape, including only-in-Japan zany enterprises, ultra functional urban settings, and stylish international imports (typically with a long line of people waiting).
1. The New York Import
Dominique Ansel Bakery
The Dominique Ansel Bakery launched its Japanese outpost in the posh Omotesando district, immediately next to Harajuku, capping a surge of recent New York imports to the city. While Ansel-San (might we call him that?) is best known for the Cronut, Frozen S’more, and Cookie Shot, all of which are available on the menu, the bakery also offers some unique regional treats. Be prepared to splurge for a taste of the matcha-infused Monaka Cookie and Paris Tokyo, as well as the Mr. Roboto, a sweet bun stuffed to the brim with hojicha (roasted green tea) cream and black sugar.
Operation hours: From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Venue: Shibuya-ku, Jingumae, 5-7-14. To reach the bakery, disembark at Omotesando Station exit A1 and walk down the slope for around 5 minutes.
2. The Hybrid
Mahika Mano Hammock Café
Why not enjoy a relaxing time at a hammock cafe after experiencing all of the city’s buzz and bustle? Mahika Mano is one of a growing number of trendy hybrid cafes where you may eat and drink while unwinding in a swaying hammock. Don’t get too comfortable, though, because each customer is limited to 90 to 120 minutes. That’s understandable; without it, we’d be stuck there for the entire week.
Operation hours: Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Sundays). The last order is placed 1 hour before the restaurant closes.
Venue: Kichijoji, Minami-Cho, 2-8-1; Kichijoji, Minami-Cho, 2-8-1; Kichijoji, Minami-Cho, Kichijoji Station South exit is about a 4-minute walk away.
3. The Secret Garden
Aoyama Flower Market Teahouse
This charming café is ideal for those looking for a bit of natural beauty in the world’s largest metropolis, surrounded by the scent of flowers and lush green vegetation. This is one of only three sites that includes a small teahouse, inspired by the concept of the Aoyama Flower Market (a chain flower shop with locations all around the city). The combination of aroma and sight is breathtaking.
Operation hours: Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, with last orders half an hour before closing.
Venue: 5 Chome12, 1F, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama. The nearest station is Omotesando, from which the teahouse is a 4-minute walk. A5 is the exit to take.
4. The Animal-Related Theme
Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse
We’re all familiar with Japan’s cat cafes, but how about going off the main road (to neighboring Yokohama) for a cup of coffee with reptiles in a rainforest? Don’t worry, the majority of them will be resting in their own cages, though there will be tortoises and lizards available for cuddling. You’ll have the experience of being a Bond villain.
Operation hours: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., except Tuesdays and Wednesdays (last order: 8 p.m.).
Venue: Chojamachi 8-133, 2F, Naka-ku, Yokohama. It’s an 8-minute walk in the direction of the river from Kannai Station.
5. The Wacky Japan
Without including the notorious Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, this would not be a top numbered listicle of places to dine in Tokyo. We’re still not sure if this is a restaurant or not, but there’s no doubting its oddity. You’ll be welcomed by a “robot” who will show you to your table, where you’ll be served a discount bento box decked up in a buffet of neon lights. During the two-hour experience, you’ll have to remind yourself to eat it. At this tourist hotspot, seeing is believing.
Operation hours: From 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. every day.
Venue: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, B2F, Shinjuku-ku. Shinjuku is the closest station. Exit at Kabukicho and go 8 minutes down the street to TOHO Cinemas.