One of my favourite finds is a small town in Tochigi prefecture – Kuroiso. It is connected to Tokyo via local Tokaido/Utsunomiya line (takes about 3 hours) or it can be easily reached via Tohoku Hokkaido Shinkansen in 1,5 hours (change at Nasushiobara). Even some Tokyo neighbourhoods would be the envy of this compact town which is brimming with young energy, coffee shops, top-notch bakeries, concept stores offering a wide selection of local and international fashion items, antique stores and design-minded community.
You might have come across Butter no Itoko succulent waffles in Tokyo or elsewhere that are usually sold out in their pop-ups as soon as they’re open; this Kuroiso-based business is one of the best examples of this area’s potential. I travelled to this town a couple of times, befriended some residents and shop owners and even seriously thought of moving there (affordable house prices are also a big plus). If you happen to hop on the train towards north, this secluded town should definitely be on your radar (before the tourist crowd flocks here).
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 a 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 …
On rainy days I find myself sitting in a quiet cafe. As I have been living all my life in Europe, where rain comes and goes, Japanese one month rainy season has been a quite surprise to me. Like most of the people, my mood depends on weather a lot. I found a perfect place for me to survive those rainy mornings in a beautiful old cafe Mokichi (モキチ).