Way back at the end of July John and I took off to Japan for just over 3 weeks and while John already had a more than adequate level of Japanese under his cap I was busy getting my black belt in the phrase “shaseen totte mo-ii desu ka?” (May I take pictures). The majority of our time was equally split between Tokyo and Fukuoka, but below are just cafes from Tokyo. There will of course be a continuation of this post to Fukuoka cafes but with the amount of pictures there are having them together would have been a major bandwidth hog and could potentially crash the entire internet.
Potluck is on the basement floor of a 6 (or was it 7?) floor Men’s and Woman’s clothing store from the U.S.A. called “Opening Ceremony”. It was also the home of Japanese celebrity barista Masahiro. They serve blue bottle from San Francisco.
Better known as “streamah” on the streets, this is the cafe of Milrock Champion Hiroshi Sawada and places a heavy emphasis on latte art.
Cafe Elliot Avenue
Cafe Elliot is in Yokohoma and is more or less an homage to Seattle, from the postcards and Ichiro bobble heads straight through to their Vivace coffee.
Bear Pond NO.8
This was the second “Bear Pond” location and had just opened up a few weeks prior to our visit. If you were blindfolded for 24 hours, spun around for disorientation purposes, put on a plane, and then placed inside the cafe and told to guess where you were, New York would be a very acceptable (albeit wrong) answer. White on white on gym floor. No straight shots.
5 and 5 stands 3 stories high and doubles as a Manga art cafe. It’s run by a mother and son duo, both of whom were exceptionally welcoming, and from what I understand they regularly showcase different Manga artists. It’s also the only cafe we went to that had traditional Japanese seating as well as the standard chair and table combo, and was littered with interesting finds throughout.
Fresco seems like one of those in-the-know-joints that you only know about because your friend who is cooler than you brought you there. Thankfully, we had some Japanese barista friends whom were of that variety. You can see in the picture directly below the side street that Caffe Fresco is situated in. (It’s that wooden board there on the right)
The Japanese Regional Barista Championships happened to take place while we were in town so we went over to watch a bit and cheer on the aforementioned Masahiro who was competing as well. It was a relatively small room but was jam packed with just as many people who watch the Western Regionals in Vancouver. I couldn’t understand any of the Emcee or the narration of course but everything seemed to be really efficient and organized (not that I’d expect anything otherwise). The last 5 pictures in this set were a competitor’s place mats (if anyone reading this knows his name, please let me know so I can give him credit) and it was by far the coolest set I’ve ever seen. From lego to seed to cup.
Paul Basset is the name of the 2003 World Barista Champion from Australia and this is obviously his cafe. He wasn’t working but I hear he stops by from time to time.
They roast inside and have a really nice selection of desserts, and Yuki works here.
Nozy had just opened the day we went, or the day before, but either way it was totehmoh/very “atarashi”/new and it was really an interesting lay out in that the bar was downstairs, but when you walk in from street level you are upstairs. They roast on site and do all their non-espresso drinks in individual multi-coloured french presses.
Hapineko!!!11!1! (Happy Cat)
Hapineko is a nekocafe, or “cat cafe” in english. There are over a dozen of them in Japan, and each of them have their own set of rules and styles, but the one we went to had about 10 free roaming cats, all named. We paid 10 Yen for a half an hour free-for-all, where we were allowed to pick up the cats, but only with 2 hands, and not from high places. The coffee was complimentary. At the end you get a postcard of one of the cats. To answer the questions I know you have: Yes, it is real, and yes, you should go, and yes these should exist in North America, and no, just because you have 15 cats at your house and make a bodum in the morning that does not mean you have experienced this.