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Classic Coffee Shops in Tokyo's Shimbashi District
Tokyo's Shimbashi district is home to two buildings that have served as an "oasis for office workers" since Japan held its first Olympics in 1964. We introduce two longstanding coffee shops located in these Shimbashi landmarks that offer a nostalgic escape with a cup of joy.
Tokyo's Shimbashi area is a business and entertainment district with Shimbashi Station serving as a transportation hub connecting several railway and subway lines. The area is known for its many izakaya bars catering to the local business people.
On the other hand, Shimbashi is also home to elegant coffee shops, some of them boasting a history spanning several decades. Read on to learn about two famous cafes located in buildings that have become landmarks of Shimbashi.
Shimbashi Ekimae (Station Front) Building No.1
Shimbashi Ekimae Building No.1, adorned with a facade of grooved glass, has a futuristic feel. It was originally the Tanuki-koji Shopping Street and was completed in 1966 as part of a vibrant urban redevelopment initiative following the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The lower floors have a lively atmosphere reminiscent of the izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) street era. In addition to dining establishments popular among office workers, the other floors serve dual functions as offices and residences.
Parlor Kimuraya, located on the basement floor, was originally founded by Mr. Watanabe's father, the second-generation owner who ventured into entrepreneurship after leaving his office job.
The milky white and wine-red interwoven sofas, along with the tea-colored and slightly yellowed wall decorations, were created by the designer commissioned at the time of opening. Even after 50 years, the space exudes a timeless, modern, and stylish aesthetic.
Although the basement floor may not directly showcase the changing seasonal beauty or allow guests to bask in the gentle sunlight, efforts have been made to ensure that they can fully immerse themselves in the coffee experience. Specifically, aquariums and potted plants have been arranged to infuse the shop with liveliness. Mr. Watanabe also mentioned that his father, who loved fishing, once kept fish he caught in the shop's aquarium, adding a personal touch to the ambiance.
A Constant Delight for 50 Years
The menu has undergone minimal changes from its inception to the present day. While preserving his father's recipes, Mr. Watanabe continually adjusts the flavors. Each morning, he prepares tomato sauce, salad dressing, egg pudding, and more. His main commitment is offering homemade dishes, emphasizing flavor over convenience, and ensuring the unique taste of homey ingredients.
Pudding Banquet: 800 yen
After being featured in the media and online, the Pudding Banquet has experienced a surge in popularity. Presented in delicate boat-shaped glass vessels, the delectable pudding is adorned with ingredients such as apples, cherries, cantaloupe, and ice cream. Not only does it boast an exquisite and adorable appearance, but its simple yet impressive taste also leaves a lasting impression.
Vienna Coffee: 570 yen
The recommended beverage is Vienna Coffee, with every aromatic sip of slightly bitter coffee seamlessly blending with velvety whipped cream. It creates the perfect harmony of flavors.
*There will be a break from 11:00 to 17:30 on Saturdays.
New Shimbashi Building
The building's seemingly unordered grid-patterned curtain wall catches the eye of anyone passing by for the first time. Developed in 1971 through urban renewal, the New Shimbashi Building houses a variety of businesses, including restaurants, railway-related shops, and arcade centers. The free-form commercial setup allows each establishment to maintain its unique characteristics.
Cafe Fuji, operating in the same year the building was completed, was started by Mr. Ichihara's grandfather. The name "Fuji" was chosen because the grandfather was born in Shizuoka Prefecture's Fuji City. The daily scenery was always accompanied by the magnificent presence of Mount Fuji.
The Mount Fuji sign inside the store, visible from a high vantage point, was personally selected by Mr. Ichihara from nearly 3,000 photos. It has been in use since around 2013. You must visit this place to enjoy the majestic presence of Mount Fuji up close while sipping coffee!
Satisfying Customers with Meals the Owner Personally Loves
Blended Coffee: 450 yen
Since Shimbashi is known for its concentration of office buildings, there is a collected effort to provide high-quality brewed coffee using premium beans in the shortest possible time in response to the needs of office workers.
The coffee is carefully adjusted in terms of steeping time and pressure. This ensures that even the busiest customers leave the shop with a satisfied smile. Mr. Ichihara personally tastes and approves all dishes and coffee items. During our interview, he replied with a smile, "This is my only shop, so of course I want to do what I enjoy and eat delicious food I love!"
Ice cream float: 700 yen
In recent years, the Ice Cream Float has been a popular drink among young people, with its vibrant and dazzling Fuji gemstone blue that captivates the eyes. The refreshing, sweet-sour flavor is irresistibly delightful!
Thick Pancake with Coffee or Tea Set: 750 yen
Simultaneously, the staff develops new menu items, such as pancakes imprinted with the shop's logo. These pancakes are fragrant with fresh eggs and have a nice, solid texture. Paired with the playful and adorable Mount Fuji design, these treats satisfy cravings and delight the eyes!
Enjoy a Leisurely Coffee Time in Shimbashi
Both coffee houses have coexisted with the building for half a century, observing a shift in their customer base. In the past, the majority of patrons were office workers who frequented for business meetings or lunch breaks. However, since the implementation of smoking bans, there has been a coffee-drinking trend in these newly smoke-free spaces.
Younger customers, drawn by positive online reviews, have noticeably increased their visits on holidays for afternoon tea. Since these individuals haven't experienced the nostalgic Showa era, they find coffee houses to be novel and interesting. Both establishments hope that in the future, aside from trendy and upscale coffee shops and chains, coffee houses can seamlessly become a natural choice for everyone in their daily lives.