All posts filed under: Japan

Tokyo Kissaten Picks

It was about last year that I’ve started looking into the roots of café culture. While it is always exciting to find a new coffee shop before anyone else, I feel the same kind of excitement of finding a local-only café that has been preserved for hundred years. Kissaten, an old-style Japanese coffee house, is a great example of Tokyo deep-rooted passion for quality coffee. Hidden away from any sunlight, kissaten is all about you, the master and a cup of coffee. Here are the Curiosity’s three picks of top-notch kissatens in Tokyo: OLD AND NEW | Kayaba Coffee   Kayaba coffee is a fusion of ancient and modern. Located in Yanaka’s Kototoi-dori behind Ueno Park, this kissaten has been running for over 70 years. The building itself is a worth-seeing spot as it was built during the World War I in the so-called “old downtown” of Tokyo. The coffee house has survived the earthquakes and the air raids during the War and exterior remained unchanged to this day. However, the true charm of this …

Tiny Wonders of Coffee in Tokyo

In between Tokyo’s mile-high skyscrapers, a million passengers pass through every day without recognising each other. This extremely fast pace slows down in coffee shops, the smaller the better. A coffee shop with no more than three stools doesn’t invite you for lingering but rather for a short personal experience. Facing a barista and a fellow caffeine-thirsty customer surely loosens up the atmosphere and leaves you randomly chatting about what brings you here. This time I am settling down in tiny coffee shops with serious-minded coffee makers. … COFFEE AND ICE CREAM | Little Nap Coffee Stand On the back side of Yoyogi park, Little Nap Coffee Stand is not easy to find but people make their way to this side of Tokyo just to sip its coffee. Having featured in many publications, this coffee shop is a popular destination for tourists, both Japanese and foreigners. Little Nap Coffee Stand is run by Daisuke Hamada and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is one of the most recognised baristas in Tokyo. Hamada is involved in every aspect of running a …

Slowing Down the Pace – Minka Cafe

First-time travellers to Japan usually choose Kamakura, the small version of Kyoto, just one hour away by train from Tokyo centre. Traditional century-aged Zen temples, the Great Buddha statue and Edo period small alleys every year attract thousands of tourists to the city. But those who search for the true roots of Zen in the former de facto capital find themselves in the West part of the town, Kita-Kamakura. Despite being a home to three of the five highest-ranking Zen temples, this part of the town dwells with tranquility without a trace of mass tourism. *** While you would easily find the way to temples here without a map, Minka Cafe is hidden like a well-kept secret in Kamakura’s greenery. In Japanese, a word Minka describes the type of traditional Japanese house building style which could still be found in the countryside. Yet Kita-Kamakura’s Minka represents a literal meaning of the term – houses of the people – which kindly accommodates anyone who steps inside.     The place fills up with customers very quickly as soon as it opens. Usually locals or nearby-living moms with toddlers settle for a conversation and …

Most Impressive Cafe Designs – Tokyo

I have always described Japan as a country of perfection, from manners to dedication. Visiting Tokyo for the third time, I was not surprised to encounter extraordinary hospitality and a sacred-like coffee preparation. While quality was exceptional in most of the cafes, I was rather deeply moved by the creativity and the design of some coffee shops I came across. Whereas coffee quality is the top priority, cafes in Tokyo go one step further to improve customers’ experience. Japanese minimalistic architecture mixed with Western influences inspired designers and coffee lovers to transform industrial and residential space into impressive designs. This time I focus on eye-catching café designs in Tokyo. Here’s the top five. KI CAFE Hidden one station away from Shimokitazawa, a commercial and entertainment district in Setagaya, Ki Café invites Tokyoites to run away from the crowd to a mesmerizing white forest. Ki Café is a true fusion of modernism and minimalism somewhere in between zen philosophy and urban city. No surprise that this little coffee shop has made to top 10 best designed …

A Shot of Summer — Iki Espresso

  Following the Aussie coffee culture, Iki espresso serves generous cups of excellent coffee in the centre of Chigasaki. This coffee stand is a successor of Allpress that is originally based in New Zealand, where coffee culture is said to be one of the best in the world. Allpress roasters opened their mega successful stores in cities such as London and Melbourne and very recently they expanded with a branch in Tokyo. Iki espresso embodies the idea of coffee stand with a look of abandoned coffee warehouse. Minimalistic concrete interior, a great collection of Kinfolk magazines and Off Season newspapers make you feel like out of Japan. No need to say about coffee as Allpress roaster is already acknowledged and loved by millions of people around the world. With the help of La Marzocco, Allpress roasted beans and creamy milk, Iki Espresso latte will never be enough. The coffee shop has been opened for more than two years and recently they have got something exciting behind the counter. Rapidly gaining popularity among Tokyo trendy coffee shops, coffee tonic is said to …

Discovering Beauty in White Forest

In this simple, pure space a guest can savour his coffee and let his mind flow in tranquility. The minimalism culture that had been nurtured in Japan since ancient times has adapted modern influences in Tokyo. Ki Café is a true fusion of modernism and minimalism somewhere in between zen philosophy and urban city. Hidden one station away from Shimokitazawa, a commercial and entertainment district in Setagaya, Ki Café invites Tokyoites to run away from crowd to a mesmerizing white forest. Ki (木) means ‘tree’ in Japanese and details of it can be seen around the shop. While most of the design magazines describe Ki as cafe with an abstract tree theme, it is much more than that. According to the owner, Yuko, the main inspiration is ‘white’, which spreads tranquility and at the same time invites to reach a mental state of no-mind (無心). At the entrance, you will be asked to take off your shoes as if you enter a sacred space. There is no music in the background. No excessive details either. …

Simplicity Equals Perfection

Late Sunday morning in Tokyo. Yesterday’s black suits-filled streets are empty. But this emptiness breathes another life into the alleys. My fingertips are craving to feel the touch of natural linen in Shimokitazawa’s Fog store. The nostalgic ‘made in Lithuania’ label shortens the distance between Europe and Asia in seconds. The sun reaches its peak and I start wandering around quiet streets of Setagaya. I settle in minimalistic café, which offers me a cup of heart-warming coffee and homemade years-mastered anpan*. Wake up. You are not in Tokyo. You’ve just found a small patch of Japan in Ealing Broadway. … Tucked away in West London, Ealing has become popular with Japanese community. Loads of Asian restaurants offering sushi and bento are cheaper than Central but still too pricey for my pocket. But when it comes to coffee and sweet delights I always manage to loosen my budget – those are my ‘money can’t buy’ little moments of happiness. My radar is always ON searching for Japanese atmosphere. Café in Japan is unique as it provides …

The Unique Nature of Green Tea

Myths, Facts and Philosophy A tea master purifies himself by splashing some cold water on his hands and then humbly takes a tea whisk. A sacred atmosphere fills the room when a tea artisan contemplates over a bowl of Japanese green tea, known as matcha. A tea ceremony, Chado, is not dedicated to consuming a tea. This combination of an art and a spiritual discipline is all about aesthetics. … Still an oddity to the West, Japanese green tea slowly gains a worldwide popularity with its claiming health benefits, rather than a cultural practice. While legend has it that green tea was ‘discovered’ in China in 2737 BC, it was only in the 16th century that tea reached the West as explorers visited Asia. Traditional Chinese medicine has been using green tea for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression. Now commonly recognised as a ‘superfood’, green tea has special health-giving benefits because of the way it is processed. Despite that, black tea leaves are the most commonly drunk type of tea in the …

Best Shonan Coffee Stands (コーヒースタンド)

Take-and-go or stay for a while. Coffee stands are extremely popular in busy Tokyo where the pace of life is so fast. However, Shonan is quite newly adopting this idea of coffee shops as beach side folks are much more laid-back. Coffee stands in Shonan differ from urban city ones; they are much more slower and personal. Scroll down for the list of the greatest 5 coffee stands around the coast. 1. 27 Coffee Roasters (27コーヒーロースターズ) Coffee stand + Roasting works + Espresso lab. It is not cramped like usual coffee shops. 27 Coffee Roasters is spacious enough to wander around freely, check magazines, coffee goods and try coffee itself. There are 14 kinds of coffee beans displayed in 3 stages: raw green beans, already roasted and brewed coffee. Feel free to try them! For latte/cappuccino they use fruity Columbia Omar Collazos that is said to be the best coffee match with milk. 27 Coffee Roasters espresso+milk is really extraordinary; sweet, creamy, but at the same time very light and ‘noncommittal’. As for seating, there are 7 seats outside …

A Game With Geometry

The Curioisity presents you one more minimalist house project by Japanese architects – Koya No Sumika. Japanese design company mA-style Architects designed the unique space with a roof as a series of V-shaped frames. Small attic space is divided by a triangular roof at this house extension that creates a spacious and bright atmosphere.

The Sound of 50s

When you first hear the name of coffee shop like LC-1A, it does not stuck to your memory straight away. The mystical letters and numbers do not give you a clue what it is all about. You make a guess, such as LC-1A might stand for ‘Love Coffee – First Aspiration’ but actually you have no clue. It is much more simple than that and this complicated name is a coffee master’s big life passion – vintage speakers.

Home, Atelier, Cafe ー a space for inspiration

“It is rather the building fits our lifestyle than we fit the building.” – with this kind of approach Takeuchi family designed a space where they can live every day with happiness and inspiration. The aesthetic world of two people are not shut between white walls. They are a big part of community through a cup of morning coffee and a love for art. The space is a combination of studio, cafe, living space and even museum, which they recall as ‘Museum of Art’.

The simplicity of MUJI

The most famous Japanese ‘No Brand Quality Goods’ company, MUJI, cooperating with Japanese architects created a spacious design house in Tokyo. The house itself looks like a small and narrow building from the outside, but thanks to to clever solutions applied by MUJI, the design fascinates with its light and airy space.

Most Unique Starbucks in Japan

Even if most of us quietly blame Starbucks for being too capitalistic mass production and materialising the precious coffee culture, that is where we go first if quick refresh caffeine needed. In cities like London a great number of independent coffee shops is rapidly growing and Londoners will rather choose their cup of joe in there. However, Starbucks does not seem even a little bit less crowded no matter where it is located. In Japan the image of Starbucks has still not been conquered by local coffee shops. With its great popularity, it is a place of relax, study, meeting and one of those rear places for free Wi-Fi around Japan. Sometimes Starbucks’ ‘fast coffee’ space with just stools and tables transforms into artistic design space. Here is the list of 3 stores in Japan that particularly stand out of the crowd with their uniqueness.

Curiosity’s Day Planner: London

London is praised as the greatest city in the world. Stop here. Been there, done that, boring. If you are a keen world traveller, you probably think of London as a very ‘normal’ city with too many tourists and too many queues. However, London is so much more than that. Big Ben or Tower Bridge are not the things that make London special. Unfortunately, there is no single answer why this city is worth living/visiting, but The Curiosity has a possible solution of spending a great day in London.

Minimalism through the eyes of TATO

One of the favourites of simple, modern and esthetic design, Tato (タト), is a fine example of modern interior decorating. Japanese based architecture office currently have had projects only domestically but there is a huge potential for international expansion as Tato designs are being introduced in English publications. The main architect, Yo Shimada, said: “I keep trying to create freedom in rooms as if all of [the furniture] is just randomly placed and used by chance”. His interior design is a combination of minimalism, wabi-sabi and a touch of Scandinavian design. White clean surroundings, spacious rooms and a lot of bright wood – that is the combination that prevails in all Tato projects.

A bouquet of sunshine

Where to start and where to finish. Let me begin by saying that PIPIPI is the most adorable and personal cafe I have ever been to. Japanese are well known for their madness for cute things, also known as kawaii culture. However, when you take a train from Tokyo towards South, the understanding of ‘cute’ is absolutely different. Colourful clothes, hand-made decorations, vintage teaspoons, flowers and anything basically related to beach – those are some of the things that are highly appreciated and referred as cute in Shonan.

SURFING WAVES AND COFFEE

Caffeine addicted Tokyoites make their way towards Southern Beach in order to fuel themselves with positive energy and great coffee. Surfers and locals beloved coffee shops’ popularity is growing on a national scale with those who are craving for summer vibes. Let me take you to surfing and beach inspired hidden coffee shop and gallery – YUYU atelier gallery café.

I don’t know coffee. Do you?

Sunny day in Chigasaki. I was walking down the beachside, wandering in the narrow streets of this city and looking where I could have a cup of coffee. And suddenly very strange question appeared in front of my eyes – Do you know coffee? The owner of that shop and coffee-pro Nii answers this question instead of me “I don’t know coffee” (it’s the name of this coffee shop). And only after having his made coffee, you realize “Maybe I don’t know coffee, but whatever it is, give me one more cup”.

Caffeinated generation goes green – Suzunoki Café

This one I should say is a smart layout coffee shop. In front of big cafe’s windows small trees are being grown mainly for two reasons: first, as exterior detail and second, as a hideaway for customers. While you are having your coffee, reading a book or just relaxing, you are invisible to others outside as they cannot see you. Despite that, you can see every person walking by. So, basically you can observe people closely without being called weirdo.

LAMACoffee / LAMASpace (ラマ珈琲)

Shonan has to offer the great variety of coffee beans as well as art. It is becoming more common to combine coffee shops with art space. LAMACoffee is a good example of it. Owner seems to be an extra creative guy as his outfit stands out of the crowd. The interior of this place is also unusual. The coffee shop is divided into 3 spaces: front, back and the second floor (room used for exhibitions). In order to choose your seat to have a cuppa, ask yourself how do you feel like.