In the Yanesen neighborhood (Yanaka, Sendagi en Nezu) are many cafes that bring about the local spirit. These cafes are small and have often irregular opening times. However, in Sendagi there are a number of nice cafes that are larger and where it’s easy to spend some more time.
As much as I love the atmosphere of Hagiso and Kayaba coffee, it is often too difficult to get in as they are too crowded and you feel bad relaxing when there is a line of people waiting outside. Yanaka Coffee is also great, but you can’t sit down.
On Yomise-dōri, the shopping street that crosses Yanaka Ginza, a number of nice cafes can be found.
1. CIBI: the little one
CIBI is a concept store and cafe started by a Japanese family in Melbourne with the idea to blend the 3 essential things in life: food, clothing and shelter. CIBI means little one and their philosophy is to approach everything with the innocence and joy of discovering/learning something for the first time.
It’s a concept that resonated with the Yanesen neighborhood and hence it’s only natural that their Tokyo store opened here in Sendagi in September 2017. Located in an old workshop, it transformed one large space into a small shop at the front and a cafe inside.
Their large selection of muffins is what actually drew me inside. Various affordable breakfast and lunch options are also available that looked very tasty. I liked my coffee and muffin, so I will come again!
The front of the cafe with the shop
While it feels like a hipster spot, I am happy to see a cafe here that opens from the morning (rather than opening close at noon as many of them do) and the reasonably priced coffee is another positive point. I could have a coffee for under JPY 400 which brings it on the same level as Starbucks or other coffee chains in Tokyo.
Address: 3-37-11 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 08:00-18:00
Budget: JPY 380 for a coffee, JP 1000+ for lunch, breakfast starting at JPY 650
Web: https://www.cibi.jp/ (in Japanese)
2. Yanesen AZ Cafe
Another cafe on Yomise-dōri is the trendy Yanesen AZ Cafe, also with delicious muffins. This cafe was started early 2016.
I like this place because of the reasonably priced coffee and I appreciate the Belgian speculoos served with it. Speciality coffees are also available with fancy names such as Yanaka Roman and Nezu Passion. The highlight are the muffins though, going from classics with matcha to more adventurous types with mozzarella. This second type are called meal muffins (in Japanese o-shokuji muffin).
I read in Ueno Keizan Shimbun that its lunch customers are 90% woman during the week and couples during the weekend. This signifies that the menu items are perceived as healthy with lots of vegetables.
At Yanesen AZ Cafe
Address: 3-40-17 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 11:30-18:00. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
(they are offering to rent the place in order to host parties and events, so it could be closed for general visitors at other times as well)
Budget: JPY 350 for a coffee, JP 1000+ for lunch
Name in Japanese: 谷根千 az cafe（アズカフェ）