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Best design cafés in Tokyo

These coffee shops and tea houses serve up some of Tokyo's coolest interior designs

By Chee Wah Lim

Tokyo has no shortage of coffee shops and tearooms – whether you’re looking for a cafe with wi-fi to get some work done, or an old-school Japanese kissaten to relive the olden days, you’ll be spoilt for choice. However, there’s also a distinct group of cafés in Tokyo that are worth a visit for more than just their food and drinks. From a lush, blooming greenhouse to a modern minimalist tea bar, here are the some of the most stylish cafés in the capital. 

Tokyo's stylish cafés

Toranomon Koffee
Toranomon Koffee
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Toranomon Koffee

Restaurants Coffeeshops Toranomon

Although Tokyo's revered Omotesando Koffee had closed, sister shop Toranomon Koffee keeps the flag flying for top-notch joe. It even kept the former outlet's distinctive cubic design, but now executed in a more spacious environment. Pair your coffee with some delicious butter toast for a power-packed breakfast. The best part is, Toranomon Koffee rises earlier than its competition by opening from 7am daily.


Restaurants Tea rooms Aoyama

Sakurai is far from a traditional tea house. But even with its modern interpretation of one – where the intimate space features an island bar done up in a sophisticated palette of dark wood, natural stones and copper – a tea session here is just as calming and meditative.

Artless Craft Tea & Coffee
Artless Craft Tea & Coffee
Photo: Artless on Facebook

Artless Craft Tea & Coffee

Restaurants Coffeeshops Nakameguro

Artist and interior designer Shun Kawakami of Artless Inc takes his minimalist game into the brew business with this coffee and tea stand, now part of the Nakameguro Koukashita complex after moving from Harajuku in May 2017. Decorated with tea utensils and tableware from the designer's own collection, the shop also serves as Kawakami's office and a community space. The single-origin beans come courtesy of coffee authority Kentaro Maruyama himself, the organic tea is supplied by small-scale farmers, while the light food options are the work of the owner's wife.

Tokyo Saryo

Restaurants Tea rooms Sangenjaya

At its finest, tea is a meditative ritual in Japan, and Tokyo Saryo has managed to interpret that in modern design terms. Bathed in a soft glow, the minimalist space is anchored by an island bar of blonde wood and raw concrete. Devoid of any flourishes, it’s a calming space that helps focus your attention on the tea in your hand, as you should. Here, the approach to tea is almost scientific; you’re given a flavour chart profiling the many varieties of local green tea available. Your hand-poured tea is then prepared using bespoke dripper sets designed by the owners. In short, pristine environment meets precision tea-making – it’s almost therapeutic.


Factory & Labo Kanno Coffee

Restaurants Cafés Gakugei-Daigaku

An ode to coffee, this industrial space has all the stylings of a factory but without the grime. Instead, the street-facing glass facade lets in ample natural light while wood fixtures turn the lofty interior into a modern coffeehouse. Essentially a roastery (the roasting machine gets pride of place in the centre), Factory & Labo Kanno Coffee also houses a coffee research lab, an academy offering coffee workshops, and a coffee retail corner.

Ki Café

Restaurants Cafés Daita

This Setagaya café is just so minimalist – a stark, white space punctuated by black table legs which extend above the tabletops into tree-like branches. Fitting, considering the name of the café, which means ‘tree’ in Japanese. The menu offers regular coffee and tea drinks, along with a small selection of cakes and pastries.


Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

Restaurants Tea rooms Aoyama

Hidden at the back of the Aoyama Flower Market is an adorable if faintly twee café set inside a glasshouse. Creepers dangle from the railings and flowering plants dot the tables. It’s a lush, blooming space that’s perfect for Instagram snaps. The menu revolves around tea; choose from the usual black variety or the house special of herbal and floral infusions. If you’re feeling peckish, try the pretty French toast which comes served with edible flowers.

Café Kitsuné

Restaurants Cafés Aoyama

The Maison Kitsuné brand has fingers in several pies – fashion, music and coffee. Grab a well-brewed cup in the Japanese-style café close to the Maison Kitsuné shop in Omotesando, and browse merchandise such as tote bags and cups. The décor incorporates traditional touches like custom-made tatami and fusuma sliding doors, plus an Instagram wall featuring Japanese motifs.

Tokyo's café culture


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