Get a Taste of “Downtown Brooklyn” by Visiting 4 Unique Artsy Cafes in Kuramae
Around a 10-minute walk from Asakusa, the Kuramae area has been famous for its gorgeous coastal views and its preservation of arts and crafts from the Edo era. Recently, roasted coffee has been on the rise in Japan, and this area has jumped on the trend in style, transforming into a unique downtown coffee spot. New cafes mixed with the preserved handicraft shops give off a rich artsy vibe, so the area has been dubbed “the downtown Brooklyn” by the Japanese media, attracting locals and overseas tourists alike to visit. Now let’s take a coffee tour of the charming Kuramae!
Aug 27 2019 (Oct 11 2019)
En - Combining Gourmet and Shopping
Walk straight along the Edo street in front of Kuramae station, and a simple bright three-story complex will soon appear in front of you. The spaciousness created by a large number of French windows on the second and third floors is impressive. En is a restaurant and handicraft shop that puts emphasis on its products being homemade and handmade. The coffee shop is on the first floor, with pour-over coffee, lattes, lavender-infused lemonades and delicious grilled toast being popular items. In particular, the limited grilled toast with cream available only at 11 am uses toast from Pelican, the most famous traditional bakery in Asakusa. It is said that the toast from this bakery can only be purchased if booked in advance, so it is definitely well-known and sought-after.
You can enjoy a variety of delicious dishes and desserts on the second floor. Barbeque beef sandwiches are made with chewy French bread, while creme brulee puddings with whipped cream and ice cream parfaits full of ingredients are the best dessert choices after a meal. On the third floor, there is a selection of furniture from local and international brands as well as an area where knitted products and miscellaneous goods are sold, just like a free-flowing marketplace. Sometimes there are even occasional handmade exhibitions and events held here.
Lastly, the fourth floor is an open outdoor area on the rooftop. After buying a cup of coffee on the first floor, you can also come up here to find a comfortable spot and bask in the downtown Kuramae scenery. Why not take a break here before continuing your exploration of this fascinating area?
Dandelion Chocolate - Chocolate Factory and Cafe
Dandelion Chocolate, which was first established in San Francisco of the USA, is a high-quality chocolate specialty store leading global trends. For their first shop in Japan they've decided to open in Kuramae. Their chocolate-making process can be observed on the first floor, with the original form of a bean to bar chocolate factory proudly presented in front of guests, creating a space where professionalism and entertainment coexists. The souvenir area has bean to bar chocolate chips and related products. In particular, there is a very special chocolate tea that is jointly produced with Creha, a black tea store, in which you can taste the rich chocolate flavor in the black tea. Buying a can for self-use or gifting is ideal.
It’s a bliss to enjoy their unique drinks and refined desserts in the store, and you can even make your own chocolate in the studio next door. If you would like to participate in their various chocolate-related courses and activities, please refer to the official website below for more details and the reservation method.
Nui Hostel & Bar Lounge - Full of Cosmopolitan Characteristics
Many tourists choose to stay in Kuramae due to the proximity to Asakusa, and the hostels and hotels here definitely don't disappoint. Among them, Nui Hostel & Bar Lounge is a backpacker hostel with a cafe and bar. You can see travelers of all nationalities come and go in the open space on the first floor. Sounds of joy and laughter fill the room as foreign nationals exchange engage in multicultural conversations over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer, red/white wine or cocktails.
The catering is also very multinational. To give you an idea, they offer fish and chips that go along very well with alcoholic drinks, as well as Japanese Kuroge Wagyu donburi (rice bowl dish with beef) on the same menu. It is certainly a good place to savor the uniqueness of Kuramae with people from all over the world.
Cielo y Rio - With a View of Tokyo Skytree
Located not too far from Nui Hostel & Bar Lounge, Mirror is another building with a hostel, bar and restaurant. On the first and third floor is a cafe, the Cielo y Rio, and they have an outdoor balcony with seating that overlooks the Tokyo Skytree, hence it has since become the talk of the town with long queues. When we visited we managed to order the signature barbeque beef sandwich dish that is limited to 20 guests per day. The fresh and soft barbeque beef slices were paired with light and smooth yogurt sauce, and the sandwich was full of spinach inside, making it unexpectedly refreshing. It came with thin crispy fries and a green garden salad, and yet it only costs 980 yen.
From here, the Tokyo Skytree rises before one’s eyes and the trendy, yet classy vibe of the store is another highlight to a meal here. You won’t get tired of sitting here for the entire afternoon with a group of friends or your sweetheart, and you have a completely different ambience at night to look forward to later too.
Adventures and Discoveries in the Alleys
The 4 cafes above are the most popular and unique ones in Kuramae, but there are other characteristic shops waiting to be discovered by travelers willing to explore. There were definitely a lot of interesting places that can be seen when winding through the narrow lanes here. A local public elementary school was actually an unexpected highlight, as the former national Kurama Elementary School located downtown was impressively beautiful and elegant, much like an art gallery exuding a cultured atmosphere. Stumbling upon hidden gems in the alleys is always a great part of any journey!
Near the tourist hotspot of Asakusa, there is a quiet place combining the coastal view of Tokyo’s Sumida River and the downtown scenery, preserving many handicraft shops since the Edo period. Injecting a new wave of coffee culture, the old Kuramae is quietly being reconstructed and renovated into something fresh and unique. For those traveling to Tokyo, plan your trip to both Asakusa and Kuramae for a unique downtown tour and a new kind of experience.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.