We eat for many reasons: survival, socializing, social media…there’s always a purpose to be fulfilled in our meals. But what about just eating to relax? If you ever feel like you need a break from the obligations and the pressures of time that manage your meal, perhaps it’s worth exploring this genre of cafes in Tokyo that are quietly but steadily gaining interest.
Just the right distance away from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku station, Brooklyn Parlor invites visitors to slip into a cozy basement discreetly out of sight. Here there’s just enough light to illuminate the food on your table and the shelves of books and magazines lining the walls. The books will bring you in, and the warmth of this snug space will make you stay with them. Brooklyn Parlor also prides itself on being a hub for good music, inviting top DJs every Tuesday to fill the night with a melodious beat. It’s a luxurious space to read, drink, listen to music and just relax—all at the price of a meal.
Address: Shinjuku OIOI Annex B1F 3-1-26 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
Access: 1mins walk from Shinjuku Sanchome station at exit 4C
Opening hours: 11:30am to 11:30pm (closes 11pm on weekends)
Official website: http://www.brooklynparlor.co.jp/
Photobook Diner Megutama
Photography lovers will love this one—if a picture speaks a thousand words, then it’s safe to say this book café is filled with millions of them. From the outside you may not expect this quiet café sitting on a corner of Ebisu to have this massive a collection of photo books. The walls are lined from top to bottom with 5,000 books containing the works of photographers from Japan and other countries all over the world. Visitors are welcome to take their time to browse to their hearts’ content as they enjoy their meal. The food is lovingly cooked by friendly chefs who serve Japanese home-style food to warm the soul.
Address: 3-2-7-1F Higashi Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Access: 7 min walk from JR Ebisu station
Opening hours: 11:30am to 11pm (12pm to 10pm on weekends)
Official website: http://megutama.com/
R-za Dokushokan Cafe
Koenji is a neighborhood steeped in an odd charm with its alternative subcultures and vintage establishments. The R-za Dokushokan Café is right at home here, yet acting as a door to an unknown world you’ll want to get lost in. Filled with greenery and shadows, the leafy canopies shelter you from the noise and bright lights of the outside so you can melt into a space that’s your own. Pick a title from their ample collection of books, featuring genres from literature to art books to philosophy. You’re also welcome to bring in your own books and take your time to finish with it a cup of hot tea. Guests are asked to refrain from conversation; it’s certainly more of a quiet sanctuary than your typical buzzing café.
Address: 3-57-6-2F Koenjiminami Suginami-ku Tokyo
Access: 5 min walk from JR Koenji station south entrance
Opening hours: 1:30pm to 10:30pm (12pm to 10:30pm on weekends)
Official blog: http://r-books.jugem.jp/
This is a café under a disguise—if you simply walked by this huge storehouse, you might not guess that it’s a café and bar teeming with life inside. Originally an iron factory built 40 years ago in Futako-Tamagawa, it was refurbished into an eating establishment and transformed into the trendy space it is today. It’s still a storehouse of some sort; inside are books, magazines and catalogues for customers to help themselves to together with their food. There’s a lovely old nostalgia in the atmosphere, that’s open and airy thanks to the high roofs kept from decades ago.
Address: 3-2-15 Kamata Setagaya-ku Tokyo
Access: 12 min walk from Futako-Tamagawa station west entrance
Opening hours: 11:30am to 2am
Official website: http://cafesoultree.jp/
Book and Bed Tokyo
If you simply can’t put down the book you’re reading, this place gives you a solution—don’t. Book and Bed Tokyo’s name is as concise as it can get. Grab a book, and get into bed. Taking on the double identity of bookstore and hostel, this chain creates spaces that are so comfortable you can literally fall asleep in them. For people who have ever fantasized about staying in a bookstore, this could be a dream come true. There are cozy cubbies tucked in between the shelves, where visitors can indulge themselves between the threshold of reading and falling into a good sleep. What’s not to love?
Adress: Lumiere buillding 7F 1-17-7 Nishi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo
Access: 30 seconds walk from Ikebukuro station at exit C8
Adress: Pagoda Asakusa 6F 16-9-2 Kaminarimon Taito-ku Tokyo
Access: 3 minutes walk from Asakusa station at exit 2, 3
Official website: http://bookandbedtokyo.com/en/index.html
These places prove that you can enjoy a meal even without human company—books are just as good a companion. Whether you’re on holiday or even just taking a pocket of time in between work, book cafes let you live that time to the fullest by opening the doors to different worlds in the books they have.
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