13 Cafes and Restaurants in Traditional Japanese Houses in Tokyo
When it comes to Tokyo, many people probably think of skyscrapers and crowded trains. However, there are many places around Tokyo where old-fashioned scenery still remains. This article will introduce 13 cafes and restaurants that are located inside kominka (traditional Japanese houses), where visitors can still feel the charms and atmosphere of old Tokyo.
Oct 24 2018 (Jan 17 2020)
1. Kosoan [Jiyugaoka]
Kosoan is a cafe made out of a refurbished kominka located about a 5-minute walk north from Jiyugaoka Station, an area with many fancy and trendy shops. In the cafe, you can have tea, coffee, and Japanese sweets such as anmitsu (Japanese dessert with agar jelly, fruits, rice cakes, and sweet red bean paste) and zenzai (sweet red bean soup), while enjoying a view of a Japanese-style courtyard.
The Matcha (powdered green tea) is made to order, cup by cup, and has a unique, pleasantly bitter taste. The Matcha also comes with a sweet that changes each season. If you visit in summer, the summertime specialty Matcha Kaki-gori (shaved ice) is highly recommended. You will surely love the refreshing sweetness which is perfect for hot weather.
2. Senkiya [Tozuka-Angyo]
Senkiya is a kominka-turned-cafe located in Kawaguchi, Saitama. The cafe is actually a multifunctional space - in addition to serving food and drinks, they also sell old classic furniture and variety goods, and use some of the space as a gallery.
They serve a variety of drinks such as coffee, milk tea, and hojicha (roasted green tea) flavored milk. Their Mutenka Kodomo Ringo (apple juice with no additives) is good for kids, and the Kajitsu-su Orange (orange juice with fruit vinegar) is a unique and tasty drink. Their homemade cakes are highly recommended to enjoy along with a beverage.
3. Kopie [Funabashi]
Kopie is conveniently located just 5 minutes on foot from Funabashi Station in Chiba, and sits quietly behind the station-front department store Loft.
They have a variety of drinks like coffee, cafe au lait, mango juice, banana juice, and more. Many types of desserts are available for order, and Matcha Pudding is one of the best. You will also be interested in their unique drink, matcha beer! If you are in the mood for a full meal, you should try one of their main dishes, such as curry rice.
4. Iriya Plus Cafe [Iriya]
Iriya Plus Cafe is located at the back side of the main street of Iriya Station in a location that would make for a nice walk from the Ueno or Asakusa areas. Their coffee is freshly ground to order and prepared via a hand-drip method. You can also enjoy their healthy and natural food offerings, prepared without chemical seasonings.
They have a large variety of pancakes, including pancakes topped with ice cream! Enjoy selecting your favorite topping, from ice cream, banana, anmitsu, cream cheese, berries, and more.
5. Aoya [Naka-meguro]
Aoya is located in a quiet area near the Daikanyama Tsutaya bookstore. They serve Kyoto-style healthy cuisine and specialize in seasonal food offerings. The menu changes seasonally, so you can have the best ingredients of the season. The traditional style of Japanese cuisine, native to Kyoto, that they serve here is called "obanzai".
They have a wide variety of dishes, and homemade curry is one of the top recommendations. It's packed with a variety of vegetables, so it's quite healthy. The interior is maintained nicely, and you will be able enjoy the atmosphere of Kyoto even from far away in a restaurant in Tokyo.
*This place has closed down.
6. Cafe Couwa [Kiku]
The best way to access Cafe Couwa is by bus or taxi, since it is a bit far from the nearest station. This cafe is in an old house that has been refurbished, so you can see various home essentials which were used in the old days in Japan.
The nice atmosphere inside is created by the indirect lighting, which makes customers feel relaxed. They serve scones, Swiss rolls, and a lunch meal combo that comes with a drink. You can also select your own seating from among counter, table, or sofa seating, and spend a relaxing time in the cafe.
7. Re:gendo [Nishi-Ogikubo]
Re:gendo is located at the narrow alley near the South Gate of Nishi-Ogikubo Station. It is a cafe and restaurant in an old kominka, and they have healthy menu mainly focused on using various vegetables that changes each week. Musubi-zen is a meal combo including o-musubi (rice balls), side dishes with seasonal ingredients, and miso soup.
The interior is based on the idea of an old forest, which creates the warm atmosphere in the cafe. Besides a cafe and restaurant, there is a space selling kitchen tools and home accessories within the building. This cafe is surely one of the best places to spend a cozy time.
8. Engawa cafe & space [Zushi]
Engawa cafe & space is a kominka cafe and restaurant in Hayama, near the ocean. Inside of the cafe, there is an engawa (veranda) from which you can enjoy a view of the garden. The space is well ventilated and very comfortable, which are two great features of Japanese traditional houses. They also exhibit and sell Japanese accessories and goods, such as tenugui (thin Japanese hand towel) and drawstring bags that are perfect as souvenirs or gifts because they are so small and lightweight.
The menu is mainly based on dishes using fresh vegetables. Omurice (Japanese-style fried rice wrapped in an omelet) with special demi-glace sauce is served with a soup made of seasonal ingredients. Their dishes are delicious, and on top of that you will feel the taste is even more special due to the amazing atmosphere at this kominka cafe.
9. Tenement [Hiro-o]
Tenement is a cafe and restaurant in a very old tenement house and located in Hiro-o, an area full of many nice cafes and trendy shops that is great for walking and exploring. They are particular with each ingredient and serve a variety of dishes, such as homemade beef stew, cheesecake, and more.
There are tables for customers on the 1st and 2nd floor. Once you come inside, you will notice that the background music is a part of the essence that creates the nice atmosphere. Tenement has the highest quality of interior, food, and music, which all lead to the customers’ high satisfaction with their experience.
10. Mois cafe [Shimo-Kitazawa]
Shimokitazawa, an area easily accessible by train from Shinjuku and Shibuya, is known as one of the best shopping spots in Tokyo. The attractive part of Shimokitazawa is all its narrow, lively alleys filled with clothing shops and restaurants. Mois café looks just like an ordinary private house. However, the inside is a cozy cafe that exudes warmth, which comes from its mostly wooden interior.
Antique furniture and decorated flowers create the quiet and cozy atmosphere inside. They have a food menu including dishes like curry rice, so the entire cafe is full of delectable aromas.
*This place has closed down.
11. Ichigeya [Hase]
Ichigeya is a kominka cafe located within walking distance from Hase Station. The area is packed with visitors who come to see Kamakura Great Buddha, but this cafe is located in a calm, quiet side street. Take off your shoes at the entrance and sit on a cushion in a tatami flooring room, and you will be able to enjoy a view of the garden from the veranda.
They have coffee, chai tea, and more on the drink menu. One of the popular dishes is the Rice Ball Plate, which includes rice balls and side dishes. They also sell tenugui with beautiful patterns, so please check them out!
12. Cafe Edomons [Hamakanaya]
Gassho is a Japanese architectural style characterized by a steep roof. Cafe Edmonds is in an old Gassho style building with an appearance that is quite rare to see around Tokyo. Inside, you can see such things as various vintage furniture, hori-gotatsu (a sitting place with a sunken floor to keep feet relaxed and warm), and huge espresso machines.
Here, they use 100% Blue Mountain Coffee, a coffee made from Blue Mountain which is well known for its high quality beans with a wonderful aroma. They grind coffee beans after receiving an order, a process that leads to the absolute best flavor for the coffee.
13. Minka [Kita-Kamakura]
Minka is a kominka-turned-cafe located about 5 minutes on foot from Kitakamura Station in the greenery area. There is no large sign from the outside that marks it as a cafe, so it looks just like an ordinary private house. Once you go inside, you will see Japanese vintage furniture and a nice view of the garden, which makes for quite a cozy atmosphere.
They prepare each cup of coffee with a Nel Drip coffee maker, creating coffee that is both rich and tasty. Their homemade pudding is also delicious and highly recommended. Note that it might get sold out quickly, since it is one of their signature menu items.
While dining or relaxing at the kominka cafes and restaurants in this list, you can enjoy and learn about old Japan. Each kominka has unique features that you will surely find interesting, so kominka cafes and restaurants are highly recommended for having a break while you are in Japan.
For something on the other end of the spectrum, check out this list of 20 chain coffee shops you can find in Tokyo. As you can see, from cosy kominka cafes to huge international chains like Starbucks, Tokyo really has everything a coffee lover could ever want!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.