Translated by Lester Somera
A New World Through The Green Door - Mugimaru 2 In Kagurazaka
Written by NakagawaAyana
The elegance of previous Japanese eras lives on in the narrow streets of Kagurazaka. One example of such a place is the cafe Mugimaru 2.
While there are rows of beautiful buildings all over Tokyo, areas which retain the appearance of Japan from a bygone era still remain, too. One example is Kagurazaka. This district contains narrow alleys which remain unchanged since a hundred years ago, and vestiges of the pleasure quarters which flourished during the Taishō era (1912-1926) can still be seen in Kagurazaka today.
Kagurazaka is home to fascinating shops that cannot be found anywhere else, with stores shaped by the owners’ unique tastes, and tasteful establishments quietly hidden away behind garden paths.
We will introduce one eccentric area cafe that expresses the charms of Kagurazaka. Enter the alley at the Kagurazaka-ue intersection and you will soon come across an ivy-covered two-story house; this is Mugimaru 2. The entrance, overrun by greenery, absolutely looks like an entrance to a different world. Just passing through will give your curiosity a jolt.
Mugimaru 2 is best known for homemade manjū (sweets made by kneading wheat flour into balls, stuffing them with filling, then steaming them). You can also get orders to go from the adorable window. With a cute window like this, you almost-unconsciously want to order takeout.
The Cafe Interior Contains Plenty of Retro Accessories
The outside of the window is enveloped in ivy vines. Sunlight passes through the leaves and gently pours into the inside of the cafe. If you visit on a sunny day, the gap between the bright outdoors and the dim interior of the cafe becomes quite prominent, and you feel unexpectedly distant from the outside world.
On occasion, the cafe’s pet cat ventures out to greet customers. It comes and goes as it pleases, and may sit next to friendly customers. Stroking a cat while unwinding at a cafe certainly is relaxing.
The inside of the cafe contains lighting fixtures, electric fans, shelves and other antique items that cannot be found anywhere else. Apparently the owner found all of these odds and ends at curio markets in Japan and France.
One of the pleasures of a visit to this cafe is taking the time to look over the items in the interior.
Choose From Nine Fresh, Piping-Hot Manjū Varieties
The handwritten menu, inlaid with cute illustrations, also has English text to put your mind at ease. The only items on the menu are manjū, which are all 140 yen (before tax).
This is the “Deluxe Cold and Delicious Set” (900 yen before tax). We received a set containing vanilla ice cream garnished with azuki beans, a manjū and a glass of cold green tea. You can choose what manjū you would like from the menu.
This is the tsubuan in mugwort dough manjū variety. The dough, made of kneaded mugwort, is filled by tsubuan (made by boiling azuki beans and sugar down into a paste, which retains the texture of the beans). The firm, springy texture of the dough shell and the restrained sweetness of the bean paste were quite delicious, and the taste of the simple, homemade manjū softens the heart.
Mugimaru 2 also serves Vietnamese coffee, not a common sight at your typical cafe. You consume this strong coffee along with the condensed milk resting at the bottom of the cup, which dissolves as you drink it. We combined this extremely sweet drink with a manjū, and enjoyed the strangely delicious combination.
At this cafe, you can enjoy more than just a manjū and a cup of tea; the cafe is a treat for the eyes, too. How about enjoying an instant of calm as you feel the slow passage of time happening around you?
Step through the fairy tale-esque green door at Mugimaru 2 and experience its therapeutic atmosphere for yourself.