Temari no ouchi cat cafe

It’s 2018 cat cafes, once a Taiwan and Japan only novelty have made their way all over the world. In fact, the office where I’m currently working is only a few metres away from a cat cafe. So why bothering visiting a cat cafe when there’s one much closer to home?

Simply put, Temari no ouchi is a cat cafe is a bit of difference. This starts with their entrance fee. Instead of being timed, there is a flat rate entrance fee of  ¥1,200 on weekdays and ¥1,600 on weekends. There is also a discounted rate for later sessions starting from 5pm. Temari no ouchi offers a full range of drinks and snacks. It’s even possible to have a full-blown meal while surrounded by cute furry felines. If you’re not so inclined, or already incredibly full like we were, there’s also no need to order anything and you’re still welcome to stay for as long as you like. We even saw a couple pull out their Nintendo 3ds while we were there!

More importantly, the atmosphere in the cafe is simply magical. Everything is set up like a warm cosy little fairytale forest and in every corner, there’s something interesting to see, even without a cute cat perched up on top of it.

As for the cats themselves, they have all sorts of personalities. Some of them are more amenable to play, whilst others just spent hours leisurely napping in all sorts of nooks and crannies. I was particularly taken with one of the sleeping kittens with a very grumpy face and some of the more mischevious cats that came over to rummage around in our bags.

Luckily, we found ourselves right in the middle of feeding time. We were in for a treat as all the cats perked up and swarmed towards their bowls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many well-groomed cats in one place before!

Tips

On weekends and holidays it can be a bit crowded but you can make a booking a month prior. You can call or send an email through with your details, the number of people and the date and time you want. The information is all in Japanese on the website, and if you’re not comfortable with google translating your own reservation message, feel free to use this format in your email.

予約をお願いします。予約情報は:
名前: (your name)
日: (date you want to book for)
時間: (time you want to book for)
人数: (number of people the booking is for)
携帯番号: (mobile phone number – in case they need to urgently contact you)

Please note that children under 10 are not allowed.

Website

temari no ouchi

PS. Sorry for my long absence. My desktop recently broke and I’ve been working 7 days a week so finding time to blog has been a little bit difficult! I hope you’ll bear with me as I work on finishing up my Japan posts and adding in a few more bits and pieces before I start on something new and exciting.

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Le Sputnik

Tokyo is a great city for fine dining. It is the most Michelin starred city in the world and always dominates Asia’s top 50 best restaurants. That said, sometimes finding a great fine dining restaurant experience in Tokyo can be completely bamboozling. The sheer number of restaurants can be somewhat overwhelming. Then there’s always the holiday budget to take into account. Is it really worth it to blow the price of the plane ticket on a single meal when there’s also so many cozy local places to eat at and shopping still left to do? Not to mention all those bastions of Japanese cuisine that seem impossible to reserve a table at unless you are located in Japanese and speak fluent Japanese.

So I came up with a simple two-step process to take away some of the stress.
1. Online bookings: Japanese of English, it’s pretty easy to figure out most online bookings systems. I preferred booking through the restaurant’s website directly. I’m not that fond of third party websites like pocket concierge that charge a premium for English language bookings.
2. Lunch specials: Many fine dining restaurants offer a cheaper lunch course. Rather than splashing out for just one expensive dinner, I love being able to sample a few different shortened tasting menus for the same price.

Le Sputnik ticked both of these boxes perfectly. I was drawn in by the amazing rose dish splashed across the restaurant’s website and also the painless booking. I’m not completely sure how I came across this website, but I have the vague recollection of browsing a few Eater and Japan Times articles before coming upon Le Sputnik and being intrigued.

To start we actually had a glass of celebratory champagne. What were we celebrating? Being in Japan and eating well I guess!

le sputnik tokyo

Cured fish atop a very zen garden-esque rock was a light little nibble to kick start things. I think Melbourne has spoilt me for fresh sashimi style dishes, because as good as this was I found myself missing the acidic tang of some my favourite cured kingfish dishes back home.

le sputnik bread

Baguette from Maison Kayser with a salted butter. This is as close as it gets to an authentic French baguette in Tokyo. Instead of the usual light fluffy bread, this had the crunch and chew that most Europeans look for in a good loaf.

le sputnik gobo

Deep fried smelt atop deep-fried gobo (burdock). The entirety of this was edible, but we were advised not to devour the whole thing as there was still plenty more food coming. Maybe I just don’t appreciate the earthy taste of gobo but this dish just didn’t do it for me. It was fried with a light touch, crispy and not at all greasy but I wasn’t all that into the flavour.

le sputnik fish

Saba with blue cheese sauce and fig. This arrived in a dome, with billows of smoke swirling around inside. It was unveiled theatrically and we were left with something as pretty as a picture. Saba is a fish with a very strong and distinct flavour profile so it was a bit of a shock with the similarly strong fig and blue cheese sauce. However, I soon came around to it.

le sputnik espresso

Foie Gras with orange and espresso jelly. Now, this is really where the meal came into its own. Soft fatty seared foie gras is always a pleasure to eat. The addition of slightly bitter coffee and sweet citrus fruit cut through the fat, to make this incredibly moreish and just rich enough to keep going back for another bite without feeling overwhelmed. The soft jelly seemed to melt into the foie gras whereas the crumble provided some welcome textural contrast.

le sputnik mushroom

Buckwheat crepe with poached egg, mushroom ice cream and a sprinkle of truffle. My face immediately lit up as this dish was being explained to us. This dish was a combination of everything I loved, crepes, eggs and mushrooms. In my mind, this was brunch gone fine dining in the best way possible.

le sputnik fish main

Sea Bass in a squid ink sauce with cabbage. Little known fact, I love Japanese cabbage. It’s so much sweeter and softer than Australian cabbage. I could probably eat half a cabbage by myself! Cooked like this, and paired with soft tender fish and an intense savoury sauce it was even better!

le sputnik venison

Venison from Hokkaido with a red wine reduction. We ate incredibly well on this trip, but I can say with confidence that this is the best single dish that we had on the entire trip. The meat was shockingly not gamey at all and the sauce incredibly rich and bold.

le sputnik dessert

I’m not too sure what this dessert was called, but it was an absolute masterpiece, both to look at and to eat. Crisp crystallised sugar broke apart to reveal juicy berries. The sorbet was fresh and light, exactly the sort of dessert I wanted to enjoy after eating a little bit too much on a warm Spring day.

le sputnik petit fours

Petit fours and tea finished off the meal and kept the highs going. The green tea dusted choux cream was a delightful little bite but I was more taken with the houjicha cream served in a small dish with a side of olive oil and salt. The creamy houjicha was already perfect on its own. The salt made it a touch more interesting but I preferred the houjicha cream by itself.

As each dish came out the meal just kept getting better and better. I will admit that I wasn’t wowed at the start, as I found the first few bites falling flat. However, by the end I was completely won over. The unusual flavour combinations and complex elements reveal an ambitious younger chef, keen to come up with something novel. Sometimes I found this a little bit too much. Certain elements seemed to be added for the sake of inventiveness rather than to actually improve the dish. Despite this, no matter how strange everything was grounded in solid skilled cooking and the hits far outshone any misses.

Ps. At 6,500 yen plus 10% tax, the 8 course lunch is the most amazing value for money!

Website

Patisserie Dominique Ansel Omotesando

I think that most people’s Tokyo food wish lists are filled with high end sushi stores, famous slurp worthy ramen counters and freshly fried tempura shops. As much as I love all of those things, I would do away with all of them in favour of all the delectable sweets in this bustling city.

Patisserie Dominique Ansel is just one of the many extraordinary sweet stores in Tokyo, but it is famous among locals and tourists alike. Dominique Ansel found his fame in another city entirely: New York. There he created the half croissant, half donut hybrid, also known as a cronut. I’ve tried a few of these in my time and often found them a little bit too rich and oily to be one of my favourites. Even without cronuts, there’s still a range of other sweet treats to indulge on.

dominique ansel cakes

As I waited in line to order, right next to me was a whole row of pastries and cakes tempting me to wreck havoc upon my wallet and waistline. I ended up buying the tomato bread and DKA to enjoy the next day. As for dining in, the obvious options were the dine in exclusive cookie shot and the iced smores.

The frozen smore is blow torched right in front of your eyes just before you take pick it up. This is a mix of almost every texture imaginable. The crisp torched shell, the chewy marshmallow, crunchy biscuits and the cold creamy ice cream were so addicting together. It also got increasingly messy to eat, threatening to fall off the stick the more I bit into it.

The cookie shot was just as novel but a little less complex. It’s exactly as it sounds: a shot of milk in a cookie shot glass. The inside of the still warm cookie shot was coated with a thin layer of chocolate to stop the cookie from getting soggy and disintegrating. The cookie was the quintessential all American chocolate chip cookie, chewy soft, sweet and buttery enough to just feel it on your hands. Honestly, I felt like I needed a bit more milk to help the sweet and rich cookie go down but Ryan loved it.

Patisserie Dominique Ansel is Tokyo by way of New York in the best way. There’s a combination of lighter Japanese inspired pastries along with a collection of very sweet decadent Americans treats. Whether you enjoy picking at something a bit more refreshing or want to be hit by saccharine sweetness this is the place to enjoy both worlds.

Tips
There is no table service on the first floor. You line up for your sweet treats and then find a seat to enjoy them. It’s a lot easier to come with someone else and have them scout out a table while you wait to order something in line, but when I came by myself it was also pretty easy to politely ask to sit next to another group on the communal table. The second floor has table service and a vastly different menu. There’s a 10% surcharge for ordering items from the first floor on the second floor. I think that the best way to experience both would be to head up to the second floor for a plated savoury or sweet and then heading down to take away a few more sweets for later, or just sitting down and indulging again.

There is also a take away only Patisserie Dominique Ansel located in Ginza for sweets on the go.

Website

Studio Ghibli Museum

For anyone with a passing interest in anime or animated films, Studio Ghibli is a big deal. Studio Ghibli’s films are famous for their sense of whimsy and wonder. The Studio Ghibli museum, located in Mitaka, is as much its own little magical wonderland as it is an informative look into the makings of Ghibli films.

Photos aren’t allowed inside the museum but you have free reign in the courtyards and rooftop. As an artist, my favourite sections were the rather romantic recreations of the studio and storyboards. Ryan preferred the lively evolution of the animated film. He was especially taken with an impressive rotating display featuring characters from My Neighbour Totoro.

There are a few options in the way of food. The takeout counter offers a very limited menu of snacks such as soft serve, hot dogs and drinks. For something a bit more substantial the Straw Hat Cafe serves curries, sandwiches and more. However, it is incredibly popular! When we passed by the wait time to get into the cafe was already at 2 hours. If you can’t wait that long I recommend leaving the museum and heading towards Inokashira park.

Cafe du Lievre is an incredibly charming cafe right in the middle of the trees, just 10 minutes walk away from the museum. Full glass windows and mismatched furniture continues the whimsical Ghibli theme without the need to wait. French style crepes, both sweet and savoury makeup most of the menu, but there’s also a wide range of teas and coffee to go along with your meal.

Tips

Tickets MUST be booked in advance. There are multiple ways to do this. if you have a decent grasp of Japanese and will be in Japan for some time, the cheapest way to do this is at a LAWSONS convenience store. Tickets go on sale on the 10th of each month for the following month. Even if you don’t understand Japanese just follow this simple guide for buying tickets from the Loppi machine and you’ll be fine.

Otherwise, the easiest method is to purchase through the JTB website of your country. Tickets go on sale on the first of each month for the following four months. This basically means that the best time to get tickets in four months in advance of your designated day. In return for the convenience and certainty of getting tickets through JTB, the prices are significantly more expensive.

There is an exclusive animated short film that ONLY shows at the Studio Ghibli Museum. It only shows at set times during the day, so it’s recommended that you arrive at least an hour before the museum closes to catch it.

Studio Ghibli museum

 

Shinjuku Views

There are plenty places where you can get a good view of the Tokyo cityscape. Tokyo tower and sky tree both immediately come to mind. However, I think that one of the best views of this city is from somewhere a little more mundane: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. As an added bonus the observatory tower is totally free!

Located in West Shinjuku, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is actually a 15-minute walk from Shinjuku station proper. There’s an underground walkway which will you take you almost all of the way. Alternatively, above ground, it’s mostly rather grey office buildings. There’s not much around for tourists except for the observatories in each of the two towers. Not that you need much more than the wonderful view. You can get a pretty decent view of Tokyo tower and sky tree as well as the neighbouring office buildings. On exceptionally clear days it’s also possible to see Mount Fuji in the distance.

The South Observatory closes fairly early at 5:30pm but the North observatory stays open until 11pm. It’s the perfect spot to watch as the sun sets and the blue and red turns into dark navy and bright lights.

As an added bonus here are some photos taken near Shinjuku station. I wandered around the new terrace exit, up some escalators and a lift to a department store, restaurant and rooftop garden before being rewarded by these views.

With a little bit of wandering and a keen eye, it’s easy to see something a little bit unexpected.

 

 

Salon Bake & Tea

I like to think that I’m not a slave to pretty Instagram food trends, but sometimes I see something in my feed that is so arresting I can’t help but bookmark it for later. The very tall and very picturesque parfaits from Salon Bake & Tea immediately fell into this category. Before we get into this creation, a little more background on the cafe itself!

Salon Bake & Tea is another part of the Adam et Rope empire. In contrast to Salon Ginza Sabou, Bake & Tea is focused on European styled offerings. However, like Salon Ginza Sabou, the cafe is situated just past racks of clothes and other Adam et Rope goods. We popped by just after afternoon tea time to find it pleasantly half full. The clientele was mostly young ladies indulging their sweet tooth and gossiping with their friends. The space is bright and airy, but slightly upmarket thanks to being located within the rather fashionable NEWoman department store.

salon bake & tea

We sat at the end of the dessert counter which gave us a great view of the parfait being made.

parfait salon bake and tea

This impressive creation was a sight to behold. Layers of confiture, cream, mousse, granola were topped with an icy berry concoction sandwiched between choux pastry. As beautiful as this was, it was pretty darn difficult to eat. We ended up deconstructing it by taking off the choux pastry and iced berry and putting it on the serving plate. We alternated between mouthfuls of the more traditional parfait and the more eclectic icy pole like creation on top.

Honestly, I wasn’t completely won over by essentially sticking an icy pole on top of a parfait as it made the whole thing impossible to mix and enjoy every component in one mouthful. It was, however, very novel and we both agreed that the elements of the parfait individually were very high quality!

crepe salon bake and tea

My focus was entirely on the parfait, but this crepe was shockingly good. It ended up completely stealing the show for me and I would return just to eat more of this! Judging from all the cream I was expecting something rich and even a little cloying. Instead, what I got was somehow, soft and as light as air. I almost polished it off in three spoonfuls, before realising that I should share.

tea salon bake & tea

Just be warned, there is a minimum order of one drink per person. Unless your drink is ordered as part of a set the tea is incredibly expensive! I splashed out on this seasonal tea from Theodor tea. It was a light green variety with floral hints. The little timer meant that I could steep the tea perfectly to my own tastes. It definitely wasn’t worth the $15 I paid for it, but I’ll admit that it was good to finally have a perfect pot of tea on this trip.

Tips
The menu changes seasonally. They parfait flavour and composition changes accordingly. Sometimes they don’t offer these super instagrammable parfaits. So if you’re keen on the super tall parfait that is their signature make sure you check the menu on the website and the new items in their news section beforehand to make sure they have it! That said, even without super tall parfaits, the offerings at Salon Bake & Tea are worth trying if you’re a sweet tooth in Shinjuku with some time and money to spare!

Website

Imperial Palace Gardens

For a big and bustling city with an enormous population and so many high rise towers, there are a lot of gardens in Tokyo. Almost suddenly, everything is flat, green, fresh but somehow still tended to and minded carefully. A prime example if the Imperial Palace Gardens. You probably won’t be able to see the Imperial Household but it’s just a short stroll from Tokyo station!

 

At the entrance gate, we were given rather dinky plastic tickets that you have to return to the counter before 5pm. I’m guessing that this helps determine how many people there actually are in the park and if they have to go out searching for stragglers before locking up for the day. As an aside, am I the only one who finds it strange that so many Japanese parks, gardens and beaches have closing times? This would be almost unthinkable in Australia, apart from a few parks with historic houses and important buildings in them!

I can’t say that I’m all that fond of the rainy season in Japan. Intense humidity combined with downpours makes it hard to want to do anything. However, rainy season is also hydrangea season. I love the bright blue, pale blue and sometimes pastel blooms that seem to pop up almost everywhere around this time of year. They pretty much make it worth venturing outside in spite of the weather.

In the gardens, I became a bit entranced with the royal orchard. Although I suppose it can’t really be called an orchard since it is just a tiny collection of trees. I loved looking at the interesting and unique fruits and just imagining what they would look at taste like upon ripening.

There were plenty of people lounging around on the grass, flying kites and taking photos. This is a great spot for relaxing but I doubt this is one of the grandest or most inspiring parks in Japan or Tokyo. That said, I loved running amok amongst the hedges and gardens all the while getting a little bit lost.

 

Asakusa (by night)

Asakusa’s traditional Japanese architecture, stores and the iconic Sensoji temple draws in flocks of tourists all year round. It’s true that the massive bright red gates and rows of stores make quite the impression. If you’ve never been to Tokyo before, Asakusa is one of the first places people will recommend. After all, it’s one of the biggest vestiges of traditional Japan in central Tokyo. Despite all this, I feel like it is a bit overrated. The crowds can be way too much and the stores, for the most part, sell overpriced generic goods aimed directly at tourists. That said, I still find myself visiting Asakusa at least once every time I’m in Tokyo. That’s because Asakusa by night is an entirely different experience.

After all the shops have shut for the day and most of the people have left there is a lovely lull to the streets that you can’t experience during the day. The temple isn’t open but you can still see the gates and wander down the streets. I love seeing the modern take on traditional themes on all the shuttered stores.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there’s still some decidedly good food options around at night. With complete confidence in the recommendations from the Jimbocho Den staff we sought out Yutaka. For a better google search try Pork Cutlet Yutaka or Tonkatsu Yutaka.

I love a good tonkatsu and Yutaka is probably as good as it gets. The pork is freshly fried and the panko breading crisp but not at all greasy. The pork is juicy and has just enough fat to make the meal a bit of a guilty pleasure without leaving you feeling heavy.

After dinner is also the perfect time to pick up some purin from Testa Rossa cafe. Although a cafe by name, the store near sensoji is more of a purin stand with various flavours for you to pick up and take home. I fell in love with the adorable glass bottles that even have the lantern from kaminarimon on them!

Taste wise, this was actually some of the best purin I tried on the trip! Silky, smooth, creamy and not too eggy with just the right amount of bitter caramel.

asakusa view

This is the view that I can’t resist. A short stroll to the Sumida river and it gets really quiet and serene. The cityscape is notably lower and the only people are photographers setting up and couples on strolls. Would you believe that even after all these trips to Tokyo, I’ve never actually been to Sky Tree. On the other hand, I have taken many many photos of it from the other side of the Sumida river, like the one above.

If you’ve never been to Asakusa, or if you just want to see it under a slightly different light, definitely check it out after dark for the perfect low key Tokyo night.

asakusa me

Tips
If you desperately want to visit Sensoji and the shops during the day I highly suggest heading in a little before all the stores are open. That way you get to check out the shutter art, head into the temple and turn back to do some shopping without too many people in the way.

Links
Tonkatsu Yutaka
Testa Rossa

Bien Etre Patisserie

I don’t really like rainy days. It’s hard to walk around, public transport is incredibly crowded and I’m never wearing the right shoes. However, after looking at these photos it seems fitting that we would stumble through the back entrance of Bien Etre Patisserie still shaking off our umbrellas and dodging the steady rain outside.

Although it is sandwiched between Shibuya and Shinjuku, Yoyogi is very much a residential neighbourhood. Situated up a very steep incline, Bien Etre Patisserie is a store that you have to seek out. Just as well, seeing as it only has a handful of small tables.

Bien etre tokyo

Next to the counter is an assortment of cakes, cookies and teas all ready for you to take home or gift a lucky someone. The cakes in the refrigerated counter are equally colourful and salivating.  However, Bien Etre Patisserie’s most famous dessert is never on display. The only clue you have is a tiny little handwritten placard on top of the cake display.

That’s right, Bien Etre Patisserie’s true calling card is their beautiful seasonal parfaits. The parfait for June was Hibiscus and American cherry with a caramel sauce. Fresh pastry cream, tempered chocolates, herbs and a generous amount of biscuit crumbs met with the slightly sour and bitter sorbet and caramel sauce to make each bite interesting. If I lived in Japan I would try to come back regularly to try all their monthly parfaits.

DSC03136

The berry cake didn’t reach the same fantastic highs as the parfait. However, the tart and sweet berries and soft cake was a nice light way to continue my sugar high.

Bien etre tea

Hibiscus tea was tart with just a hint of sweetness. It really helped keep me alert as the rain poured down outside and the gentle sounds of people tidying up in the kitchen made its way into the cafe. Chamomile tea was on the other end of the spectrum entirely. Sweet and soothing I would have happily fallen asleep drinking this.

Tabelog
Website

Jiyugaoka

Jiyugaoka is described as a place where every day feels like the weekend. No, that doesn’t mean that there are party goers and revellers around all day and night. Instead, it’s perennially filled with young couples and families on dates and people slowly enjoying their day.

Patisserie paris s'eveille

Jiyugaoka is also a hotbed for some of the most highly ranked cake stores in all of Tokyo according to tabelog. As soon as we got out of the station we made a beeline for Patisserie Paris S’eveille. 

chocolate cake

Patisserie Paris S’eveille is well known for their chocolate cakes so I couldn’t go past ordering this decadent chocolate slice for breakfast. The fig and chocolate cake is what dreams are made of. Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of rich and heavy desserts but this was probably my favourite of the cakes we tried. The cake was dense and moist and the chocolate ganache sandwiched chopped up bits of fig adding to the fruitiness of the dark chocolate.

The berry cake was a much lighter affair. Hidden inside the light fluffy centre were even more berries. I could have cried at just how sweet the raspberries were. These two cakes actually complimented each other perfectly, as the fruity taste of the dark chocolate naturally fed into the berries of the lighter cake.

eclair

We didn’t go all the way to one of Tokyo’s best bakeries to only get two slices of cake. This beautiful eclair looks like a perfect little garden with the green choux and edible flower petals. This was probably the weakest of all the cakes we tried. The pistachio flavour was perfectly pleasant and the fruit exquisite but as I find is often the case with eclairs I found it a touch too soggy.

Cakes aside there is also a sizeable assortment of bread, pastries and biscuits ready for take away and eat in. Whilst we were savouring our sweet breakfast, a small group of French mothers and their children came in to partake in some sweet pastries and croissants on what looked like a regular mummy date. If nothing else, I feel like having French natives come and partake in these baked goods must attest to their quality.

Mont St Clair, m.koide and Bloom’s were also on my list of cake stores to check out. Sadly I only managed to walk past half of them and peek into the windows because I was already too full!

 

Potato Cream Cafe is probably one of the cutest and carby-est (that’s not a word, but I’m going to use it anyway) holes in the wall anywhere in the world. The potato wreath decoration speaks to me (and probably all other potato lovers) on a spiritual level. As the name suggests this quaint store sells nothing but potatoes. Mashed potatoes to be precise.

potato cream food

For the most part Potato Cream seems to do takeaway business. However, there is a small counter where you can stand and enjoy your mash! There are 5 toppings to choose from, and you can make it a set with some toasty baguettes as well. I picked the fresh tomato and Ryan had a more adventurous mince lamb. The mash was a little different to what I’m used to. It was smoother and more watery than the creamy and buttery mash I make for myself. However, it worked here since most of the flavour came from the toppings and the soft mild mash just padded things out to make each mouthful smooth and easy to eat.

 

Jiyugaoka is sometimes called the Europe of Tokyo. I’m guessing the reason for this lies with La Vita, a tiny little block of shops that has a mini canal and gondola in it. Sadly on the day, I went the water was drained and the gondola covered, making for a bit of a sad sight. Therefore, there are no photos. On the other hand, I might have audibly gasped when I laid eyes on Puppily Hills. I had a quick peek into this store, and it was everything I imagined and more. The most pampered dog was having a bit of a groom and photoshoot in clothes that cost more than some of mine!

tokyo-kumano-shrine-jiyugaoka-125627

Don’t think that Jiyugaoka is just trendy cafes and cute stores though. Kumano Shrine
appears almost out of nowhere, hinting at a history beyond the Jiyugaoka that you can see now. Being the idiots that we are, we actually spent more time horsing around on the slightly run down playground equipment in the park leading up the shrine than actually at the shrine!

Playing around on see-saws that are too small is thirsty work! Luckily, one of the most charming traditional Japanese tea houses was just a stone’s throw away. Aside from a small menu outside, there is nothing to indicate that Kosoan is anything but another residence.

kosoan

Walk up the path and into the garden and soon you’ll see groups of people lounging on the tatami, contemplating their matcha and chit chatting away. I desperately wanted a seat by the window, so that I could enjoy the pretty garden and slight breeze, but alas they were all full so we settled for a spot in the middle of the room. We were given the menu, which is in Japanese only with a few Japanese sweet options.

 

Despite the warmth of the day, I couldn’t go past a traditional matcha. This was served with a cute little-cubed wagashi. The matcha was smooth with just enough bitterness and the right temperature to drink almost all of it straight away. Ryan’s first anmitsu was a bit of a revelation for him. Fresh fruit, crisp kanten and chewy mochi coated liberally with kuromitsu syrup is always an absolute winner. I wish more places served this back home because it really is the perfect summer snack, especially when topped liberally with soft-serve (which was also an option here!)

 

Simply, Jiyugaoka is the perfect place to simply stroll around. If you get too far from the station, it quickly starts getting residential, but a few more twists and turns back and you’re bound to stumble upon an adorable zakka store or charming homeware and food mega stores like Today’s Special.

Maybe my tastes are changing as I get older but Jiyugaoka is one my favourite suburbs in Tokyo. I love the cute homeware stores, stylish cafes, open streets and leisurely people. I can easily see why so many Tokyoites want to make this charming neighbourhood their home. If you’ve got a few days in Tokyo and are in for a bit of a change of pace away from the crowds this is the place to go.

Links

Paris S’eveille
Potato Cream
Kosoan