We all need a pick-me-up during a lengthy shopping spree, but finding a suitable spot for a break can be harder than you think – especially in central Tokyo, where most of the precious seats at coffee shops tend to be occupied by sleep-deprived students and nomad workers. Enter the shop-café hybrid. An increasing number of stylish retailers now run their own in-store cafés, some of which also function as hands-on showrooms for tableware, furniture and other home accessories. Trying before you buy has never tasted so good.
Four of our favourite hybrids
1LDK offers a selection of simple yet refined clothing, shoes and bags, which appeal to fashionistas of all generations. They also sell tableware and other household items, which you can try out in the café space set up on the right side of the shop. The international menu includes burritos and curries, with all dishes available for takeout, but if you have the time it’s worth hanging around: weekday lunches come with unlimited trips to the excellent salad bar.
Worth the 20-minute trip west from Shinjuku on the Chuo line, this antique furniture and homeware boutique in Mitaka appears a little overstocked: what doesn’t fit on the shelves is usually displayed on the street outside. But there’s treasure to be found, and the perseverant can find everything from designer tableware, including some exquisite Hasami pottery, to towels, postcards and spices.
Bargain hunters should stay outside: the open-air displays feature secondhand plates, cups and more, with prices starting as low as ¥50. Once the digging gets too much, step into the café and sit down for some Japanese-style curry, a sandwich or the daily lunch special. Wi-fi is free, and the antique clocks on the walls make for a bit of added entertainment.
Cakes and cookies and fine leather items make unlikely, but welcome, bedfellows at this cute little shop, located on central Kokusai-dori in Kuramae. As you enter, take a right to find Numeri brand products including bags, wallets and hair bands, or head left for delicious handmade cookies and pastries courtesy of local bakers Miwako Bake. As the artisanal leatherware comes with quite hefty price tags, we’re very thankful for the opportunity to spend a few quiet moments over a piece of heavenly carrot cake pondering whether to splurge.
Another hybrid found far out west, Tegamisha is hidden away near Shibasaki Station on the Keio line and deals mainly in original stationery and curious, often random, knickknacks. Look out for the cute postcards and pouches, or opt for some kawaii socks to add a little colour to your outfit.
At lunchtime, the adjoining café turns out superb sandwiches, made with bread baked on the premises, while evenings see a lineup of old-school Japanese favourites including ‘napolitan’ spaghetti take over the menu. The ground floor is occupied by Books and Coffee Tegamisha, a coffee stand that also features a hand-picked selection of books (mainly in Japanese, sorry).