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In recent years, Japanese retro cafes have been attracting attention. Nostalgic-looking interiors and unique menu items, including cream soda, have been a hit among the youth. This article features six old-fashioned cafes in Tokyo where you can enjoy delicious, photogenic cream sodas.
Photo by Pixta
Cream soda is a beverage commonly found in Japanese coffee shops. It's typically a melon-flavored soda topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In recent years, unique and innovative versions of cream soda have gained popularity. So, it was only inevitable that these photogenic cream sodas―with melted ice cream inside colorful, fizzy soda―are worthy of sharing on social media.
In 1902, the Japanese company Shiseido, mainly selling pharmaceutical products in Tokyo's Ginza district, began offering carbonated beverages and ice cream inside its pharmacy.
Japan's first soda water and ice cream―a relatively new combination then―became a specialty at Shiseido. This also led to a soda fountain forming inside the pharmacy premises.
This was the origin of the Shiseido Parlour. Japan's first cream soda was concocted here, and it remains a popular menu item 100 years later.
This article features six memorable coffee shops in Tokyo. At each spot, you can feel the atmosphere of the Showa Era (1926-1989) and sample tasty, photogenic cream sodas.
The locations are recommended by our writer, who loves visiting coffee shops.
Coffee Fuji sits in the basement of the New Shimbashi Building near JR Shinbashi Station. It opened for business in 1971.
The shop was named Fuji because the grandfather of the now third-generation owner, Mr. Ichihara, was born in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture.
The Mount Fuji picture adorning the wall inside the shop was carefully selected among over 3,000 photos.
In his hometown of Fujinomiya, all of the scenery showcases the majestic Mount Fuji. So, with this in mind, they chose this particular photo featuring a panoramic view of Mount Fuji, as seen from above.
Cream Soda: 700 yen after tax
Coffee Fuji's cream soda has a striking blue color reminiscent of a snow-capped Mount Fuji in early spring. In addition to the ice cream, it comes with a huge dollop of fresh whipped cream!
In the summer, a Mount Fuji-colored shaved ice makes its limited-time appearance. Many people flock to the shop in search of this cool, refreshing treat.
While enjoying the sight of Mount Fuji throughout the cafe, please try one of their exquisite cream sodas.
From a young age, the shop owner Ms. Hasezawa loved romantic young girls' comics (shojo manga). She dreamed of opening a coffee shop―the kind you might find in one of these comic books.
She wanted a warm, inviting cafe housed in a two-story wooden building in the Shibamata neighborhood, her birthplace in Tokyo. The result is Showa Retro Cafe Sepia, a dream-like coffee shop that looks like a scene straight out of a girls' comic book.
Pudding and Cream Soda Set: 1,200 yen after tax
Of course, the shop's recommended menu item is an old-fashioned melon cream soda. The vanilla ice cream has a full, rich flavor. Each bite, accompanied by a sip of soda, goes down smoothly and is a refreshing, irresistible experience.
The cafe has a retro interior and exterior perfectly fit for Shibamata's friendly working-class neighborhood. Sipping a cream soda here feels like you've returned to the Showa period.
Cafe Murata Shokai sits on the former site of Coffee Shop POT, a coffee shop in Tokyo's Suginami Ward that locals have loved for many years.
After a fateful encounter with Coffee Shop POT, Mr. Murata (the present owner of Cafe Murata Shokai) decided to take over the shop. He learned from scratch how to brew coffee and prepare menu items.
Since his days as a student, Mr. Murata has visited over 1,000 coffee shops.
With the changing times and lack of shop successors, many of these spots began closing. This filled him with disappointment and sadness. On the premises of Cafe Murata Shokai, he currently sells furniture and tableware from many of these coffee shops that are about to close.
Perhaps they have some items from beloved coffee shops you often visit. For international visitors, how about picking up a souvenir of your stay here in Japan?
Cream Soda: 550 yen after tax
Cafe Murata Shokai's melon cream soda makes a big impact! The large mug is filled with the perfect balance of melon soda and vanilla ice cream. The dreamy taste will have you wanting to drink it all at once.
Jujo-Yu is a public bathhouse near Jujo Ginza Shopping Mall. Like many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cafe owners experienced financial hardships. Thanks in part to crowdfunding, it reopened as a multi-purpose facility consisting of a public bathhouse (sento), cafe, and sauna.
To preserve the traditional bathhouse, the owners have relied on the efforts of young people to create new possibilities for the facility. It's now a spot loved by locals where guests can have meaningful encounters.
Jujo-Yu Cream Soda: 650 yen after tax
Our recommendation is the Jujo-Yu Cream Soda (pictured left in the photo). The glass sparkles like a mini aquarium, while the red-colored soda has a delicate strawberry fragrance. It has a refreshing taste that isn't too sweet.
On special days such as seasonal events, unique cream sodas appear on the menu for a limited time. Each beverage is new and original, leading many customers to look forward to the next eye-catching drink.
Coffee shop Monozuki is located near JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station. It served as the restaurant location for the TV drama "Nishi-Ogikubo Mitsuboshi Yoshudou" (Three Star Bar in Nishi-Ogikubo Neighborhood).
In addition to many traditional wall clocks, the shop interior is decorated with elegant antique items. These are the most attractive features of this shop, which has been serving customers for over half a century.
Soda Float: 550 yen after tax
The cream soda is slightly different from regular cream sodas due to its distinctly bright crimson color. The combination of pomegranate-flavored soda and vanilla ice cream creates a sweet, tangy taste that's addictive.
Why not visit this retro shop while surrounded by antique treasures?
The neon-lit Impurity Cafe Dope Nakano is currently the talk of the town on social media platforms. It has locations in Tokyo's Ueno and Nakano districts.
Both of these old-fashioned coffee shops were taken over and then renovated. They kept the original shop decorations but added some modern art, attracting young people's attention.
They even plan on opening a new location in Harajuku in October 2022.
Cream Soda: 640 yen after tax
The most popular menu item is the blue-colored cream soda! The nostalgic, enjoyable flavor is similar to eating refreshing shaved ice at the seaside after a day of swimming.
You can also drink a unique cream soda with alcohol in the evening. While keeping a pulse on the latest trends, this dedication to offering cream sodas in tune with the shop's atmosphere is an attractive feature at this cafe.
When summer arrives, you can sometimes see the remnants of melon cream soda in Japan's convenience stores and supermarkets. In recent years, it has also become trendy to craft original cream sodas at home.
However, drinking cream soda in a special cafe filled with nostalgia and history is a satisfying experience that can't be put into words!
So, by all means, please visit one of the unique shops introduced in this article.
Main image courtesy of Pixta