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Snuggle Up In A Warm Kotatsu At Cafe Stay Happy, Shimokitazawa

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Perhaps many of you have seen a kotatsu in a Japanese animated movie or TV drama. Today we'll take you to a cafe with a travel theme, located in Tokyo's Shimokitazawa area where you can snuggle up in a kotatsu and enjoy a cup of coffee.

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Though you can often see a kotatsu in an animated movie or TV drama, in everyday Japanese life there are fewer opportunities to encounter them.
Cafe stay happy with its distinct travel theme is located in Tokyo's trendy Shimokitazawa, and when winter arrives customers can relax and enjoy themselves under a kotatsu. This cafe sounds almost too good to be true, so shall we head over there, slip our legs into a kotatsu and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee?

Why Did The Owner Decide To Open This Cafe?

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

Ever since a university student, the owner of cafe stay happy has been hooked on traveling. Even after graduating from school, this passion for travel never waned and thirty years ago decided to go on a round-the-world trip. After three of these whirlwind trips, the owner has visited a staggering 86 countries!

The idea of starting a cafe first came to mind after returning home from one of these trips. The owner thought that a cafe would make it possible to serve a variety of dishes and also make it easy to interact with customers, so this served as the catalyst for going into business. Putting round-the-world trip experiences to good use, cafe stay happy is now a place where visitors can get travel information, and also exchange tips and share experiences with other customers.

Traveling Can Change Your Sense Of Values

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

Upon returning home to Japan after traveling the globe, the owner says that their sense of values changed, and began to realize that there is no such thing as obvious and natural things.

For example, the owner was often influenced by others and had a habit of trying to allign their own thoughts and opinions with those around them. But this has now disappeared, and in its place is a stronger, more independent style of thinking. Also, after witnessing the countless struggles and problems people had in many other countries, the owner's own personal worries paled in comparison, and out of this, a desire to help society and the world gradually began to emerge.

What Kind Of Customers Frequent This Cafe?

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy
當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

Every day guests from abroad drop into cafe stay happy. This includes travelers and also visitors currently residing here in Japan. Due to its location in Tokyo's stylish Shimokitazawa, the cafe's clientele includes many musicians, publishers and designers among others.

The one thing that all of these customers share in common is their love of traveling. Inside the shop, travel guidebooks from various countries are available for perusing, and photos of places the owner has visited are on display. We also hear that some customers actually make and finalize their travel plans here on the shop's premises.

The Cafe's Atmosphere

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy
當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

The shop's interior is decorated with wooden furniture and brightly colored cushions, and is accented with tastefully arranged driftwood. Inside the cafe, music with a hint of exoticism wafts through the air, making it almost feel like you're not in Japan.

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

In one corner of the cafe, your eye is drawn to a wall adorned with bottle caps and labels from specialty beers the owner drank during their travels. Speaking of beer, we've been told that there can be as many as 50 kinds available on the cafe menu.

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

Every day the shop lists the exchange rate for various currencies for out of country visitors.

Let's Sit Around The Warm Kotatsu Together!

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

The kotatsu service is a special treat reserved for the winter season.
In the beginning, the intention was to simply offer customers a relaxing space, and with the kotatsu, also give them an opportunity to experience a bit of Japanese culture, but the owner had no idea that this would become such a big hit. Cafes with kotatsu are rare. When many people actually get inside the kotatsu it's so comfortable that they end up staying for a while, and then enjoy themselves by exchanging information and stories with the other customers.
If you'd like to have this warm and relaxing space all to yourself, then we recommend coming here on weekday afternoons shortly after the cafe first opens!

Our Recommended Menu Items

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

Items on the menu focus on organic produce and natural growing methods, and they try to minimize the use of chemical additives and frozen ingredients. In addition there are many vegan choices available. The menu is also written in English so our guests from abroad can relax and order worry-free.

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

We recommend the brown sugar matcha latte (650 yen including tax). This beverage contains kinako* which matches the foam of either the milk or soymilk perfectly. It has a really smooth texture and after you take one sip, the flavor of the kinako and matcha create an unforgettable taste sensation in your mouth!
*Kinako is produced by taking roasted soybeans, removing their skin and then grinding the beans into a fine powder.

當自己家般自在!來下北澤縮進暖桌喝杯咖啡stay happy

All dessert items on the menu are made from scratch. The cheesecake (400 yen including tax) is moist, with a light and crispy bottom crust and a delightful caramel aroma.

In Closing

When you go to cafe stay happy for a coffee, it's the owner's hope that you also experience some Japanese culture.

At this cafe you can exchange travel information on just about any country and you're sure to make some new friends who also love to travel. So the next time you head for Shimokitazawa don't spend all your time at the vintage clothing and music/record stores, but also pop into cafe stay happy where you might very well catch the travel bug and start making plans for your own travel adventure!

Written by




Born in Taiwan. Currently living in Tokyo. Currently editor in chief of MATCHA's Taiwanese website. In the past, I worked as an editor for a Japanese fashion magazine, as a Japanese language teacher at a private high school in Taipei, as an interpreter for Shiseido and other Japanese and Taiwanese companies. I've also had experience as an inbound tourism copywriter. My Facebook page 'Tokyo beyond studying abroad' 東京、不只是留學(留学だけじゃなくて)boasts 120,000 followers. Blogger with readers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, of which 70% are female readers. I have covered over 300 locations and stores in my articles. Writing about the latest trends, places off the beaten path, and traditional culture. Published six books on Japan in Taiwan and Asia. Facebook → Instagram → @mihowang47
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