Kominka(Cultural Relics)/Kominka Cafe

A Taste of Nostalgia: Exploring Kominka Cafes in Tokyo

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Old houses and historic buildings renovated into traditional Japanese-style cafes. They are often seen in the suburbs, but there are also some in the heart of Tokyo.

Today, we introduce three such places in Tokyo. Enjoying coffee and meals in the unique atmosphere created by these buildings with a long history is a delightful experience. Why not spend a special autumn moment at one of these places?

Feeling Like a Literary Giant

Engawa Cafe (above Eye Catcher photo, Engawa means a kind of wooden veranda/balcony)

This Western-style house with a Japanese-style annex was built by Mr. Hirata, who ran a metalworking business in Tokyo’s Shitamachi (downtown) area, in 1939. In 2012, it was designated as a national tangible cultural property and named the “House of Showa.” Since 2014, it has been operating as a cafe.

Vintage tables and chairs are placed on a roughly 1.8-meter-wide old veranda(Engawa), and a well-maintained garden with plum and cherry trees is right in front of you. The garden turns colorful with autumn leaves in the fall.

They serve hand-drip coffee and offer a wide range of menu items, including anmitsu and pizza. Among the popular choices are sweets made with seasonal fruits directly sourced from local producers and the “Matcha Latte” (630 yen). Many people come here to relax with a book, feeling like literary giants/Great Writer.

Operating hours: 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.

Address: 2-5-10 Nishihokima, Adachi-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3883-0011

Rice Flour Pancakes

Rizlabo Kitchen – Located in Tokyo’s Omotesando, this facility has been renovated from a 1947 building with the lingering charm of the Showa era.

The interior of the building exudes the atmosphere of a back alley. This establishment is situated on the first floor where various Japanese dining options are available.

They mainly offer pancakes made with low-pesticide rice flour. They prioritize ingredients such as free-range chicken eggs, domestically produced rice oil, and sugar from the Amami Peninsula.

The “Strawberry Pancake,” which pairs perfectly with a refreshing strawberry sauce and rice flour dough, is a popular menu item known for its fluffy texture. Pets are allowed on the terrace seats.

4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Open daily (except for temporary closure from October 4th to 7th, 2023). Operating hours: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. For more details, please visit https://www.rizlabo.com.”

Renovated Long-Established Flower Shop

Cafe & Bar Hanashigeyachaya

Located at the entrance of Yanaka Cemetery (Taito Ward, Yanaka), this building was renovated from the more than 150-year-old long-established flower shop, “Hanashige.” The front facade, designated as a national tangible cultural property, has been preserved as is, and it opened in July (2023).

While preserving its historical architectural value, the interior has been modernized with metal frames and glass walls, creating a bright and open atmosphere.

A recommended menu item is the famous “French Toast” (880 yen) from a well-known bakery in Asakusa.

Pets are allowed on the terrace seats. Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, they have bar service from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Closed on Tuesdays and the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Address: 7-5-27 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5834-8871

Thanks for browsing, have a nice day!

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )