Tokyo’s Local Coffee Walking Guide: Kiyosumishirakawa and Fukagawa

In Tokyo for a few days and want to sample a few great coffee establishments? You could squeeze in a good cup at one of the indie joints at Shibuya, Harajuku, or Shinjuku, filled with locals and tourist crowds alike. Or, you could get your caffine fix while experiencing the real local Tokyo, with its quaint local neighbourhoods, impressive temples, and under-the-radar restaurants and sweet shops.

Below I have 3 suggested walking routes for Tokyo’s highest concentration of indie cafes in local Kiyosumishirakawa and Fukugawa. It’s 10 minutes by subway from Tokyo Station and Nihonbashi, and just under the Tokyo Skytree in Oshiage. Pop by for an afternoon between your morning and evening activities, or better yet, make a day trip and get your dose of espresso, culture, and peace and quiet.

You can load the walking route on your Google Maps app, and turn each of the walking routes on and off as you like. The hours are stated on the pins. If you’d like to have a summary of the cafes, please check out this post.

Option 1: The Quick Loop

Start: Kiyosumishirakawa Station (Hanzomon Tokyo Metro Line)
Finish:Kiyosumishirakawa Station (Hanzomon Tokyo Metro Line)
Distance:  ~3 km
Estimated Walking Time: 1 hour
What You’ll See:
5-7 Cafes, 1-2 Japanese sweet shops, 2 parks, a historic Meiji building, and local neighbourhood shopping streets.

  1. Start at 11am or later.
  2. Walk from Kiyosumishirakawa Station to Hikidashi Cafe for brunch / quick lunch
  3. Continue to The Cream of the Crop to sample their drip coffee.
  4. Next pick up a shiyo daifuku (salty, but still sweet, red bean daifuku) at Yoshida Sweets. It’s the local specialty! Pick it up on the go or eat in.
  5. Stroll down through Kiba Park and have a mini picnic if you bought the daifuku for take away.
  6. Continue to Allpress Cafe for an espresso-based coffee.
  7. Walk down a few blocks (West) to Blue Bottle Coffee for drip coffee, an espresso-based drink, or even syphon coffee. Go on a weekday to avoid the line-ups. Even weekday afternoons get lively.
  8. Optional: Go to the next block and try the original ARiSE Coffee in the corner. It’s one of the oldest establishments and has been serving drip coffee long before the area became known.
  9. Optional Food: If it’s 1pm or later and you’re hungry, sit down at Fukadaso. It has comfy sofas, a warm lounge atmosphere, and an array of desserts and savory options. At least one of the owners speaks great English, having lived in LA for some time.
  10. Continue West towards Kiyosumi Park, where you will find ARiSE Coffee Entangle, a relatively new addition to the ARiSE family. You can find drip and espresso coffee, cakes, and a few tables if you want to work or read.
  11. Optional: In Kiyosumi Park, just across from ARiSE Coffee Entangle, is the Fukagawa Library, which is a Meiji building. Go inside and check it out!
  12. Walk through Kiyosumi Park back up to Kiyosumishirakawa Station.
  13. Optional Extension: Walk through Kiyosumi Park and go to Futaba Okashiji to try their famous goma daifuku (sesame daifuku). It’s a 65 year-old family shop in the middle of a community commercial street. The owner is a friendly fellow who often stands outside his little shop.

Option 2: Half-Day Coffee Tasting Tour

Start: Kiyosumishirakawa Station (Hanzomon Tokyo Metro Line)
Finish: Monzennakacho Station (Tozai Tokyo Metro Line)
Distance:  ~5 km
Estimated Walking Time: 2 hour (not including sitting, line-ups)
What You’ll See:
6-8 Cafes, 1-2 Japanese sweet shops, 2 important shrines & temples, local canals, a historic Meiji building, and local neighbourhood shopping streets.

Special Note: If you start in the morning, you should go to ARiSE Coffee Entangle or Blue Bottle Coffee first, as they are open. The other cafes usually open at 11am or 1pm.

  1. Start at 9:30am or later.
  2. Walk from Kiyosumishirakawa Station through Kiyosumi Park towards ARiSE Coffee Entangle* for your first coffee, either pour-over or espresso-based.
    *Note: They are one of the earlier coffee shops to open (at 9:30am, closed Mondays).
  3. Optional: In Kiyosumi Park, just across from ARiSE Coffee Entangle, is the Fukagawa Library, which is a Meiji building. Go inside and check it out!
  4. Continue East for a few blocks to Fukadaso, the original ARiSE, and Blue Bottle Coffee.
  5. Optional: At the street corner of Kiyomisu Park, just after your cross the street, you can pick up a shio daifuku (salty, sweet red-bean daifuku) at the Fukagawa Iseya at the corner (red pin). You also have another chance at the end of this walk at another branch of the same shop.
  6. Optional Food: If it’s 1pm or later and you’re hungry, sit down at Fukadaso. It has comfy sofas, a warm lounge atmosphere, and an array of desserts and savory options. At least one of the owners speaks great English, having lived in LA for some time.
  7. Optional: Go to the next block and try the original ARiSE shop in the corner. It’s been serving drip coffee under the radar, with its skateboard lined walls for years.
  8. Walk one block over to Blue Bottle Coffee for either a drip coffee or an espresso-based drink. It’s better to go on a weekday to avoid the line-ups. It has three long bar tables for you to sit down for a break.
  9. Continue down the street towards Allpress, which is originally from New Zealand and Australia and serves great espresso-based options. They have one long table and a few small tables. If it’s a nice day, you can also sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  10. After that, go down along a pedestrian small park (South) one block to Sunday Zoo* to sample another drip cup.
    *Note: Sunday Zoo is only open Friday and Saturday (10:30-18:00) and Sunday (10:30-16:30).
  11. Optional Lunch: Head to Kokaibo (red pin) for a ramen. It has a signature basic ramen for 650 JPY.
  12. Walk behind Sunday Zoo and check out the canal. Canals are typical of the Koto-Ku area, which used to be villages across the marshlands. This area is where several major rivers – the Sumida, Ara, and Edo – empty into the sea.
  13. Cross the bridge and continue down (South) towards Fukagawa Coffee. This is probably the oldest coffee establishment in the area, and looks the part. If the timing is right, have a cake to go with your coffee and just chill with a book to enjoy the jazz music in the background. Read my extended description below!
  14. From Fukagawa Coffee, head under the tall overpass / highway and look for a pedestrian street lined with trees and a tiny creek flowing through. It is one of the historic entrances to the Tomioka Hachimangu, your next stop.
  15. Check out the Tomioka Hachimangu, the shrine where the national sumo wrestlers pray after they’ve won a tournament, home to the largest portable shrine, and an antiques market most Sundays. You can check my extended description here.
  16. After you finish, exit the west entrance and head to the neighbouring Fukagawa Fudo Temple, one of the most important Buddhist temples in the city. It is a lively and active temple, with lectures and an unusual set-up where you can walk inside to a small lecture hall and see the statues and other cultural artefacts of the temple. You can check out my extended description here.
  17. Once you’re done, walk out the main entrance to the local commercial shops (typical of traditional temples and shrines). You can grab a beer at one of the izakayas, sit down in a restaurant, or try the street snacks.
  18. Stop at the Monz Cafe for your last coffee sample of the day.
  19. Optional: Pick up a shio daifuku (salty, sweet red-bean daifuku) at the Fukagawa Iseya at the corner of the street, if you didn’t do so earlier. It’s right across from the metro station exit.
  20. Optional Food: If you’re hungry, visit Menya Endo or Somen Monzennakacho close by (red pins on the map) for some of the best local ramen. Otherwise, head into the Tokyo Metro and head to your next destination!

Option 3: Full-Day Coffee Tasting Tour

Start: Kiyosumishirakawa Station (Hanzomon Tokyo Metro Line)
Finish: Monzennakacho Station (Tozai Tokyo Metro Line)
Distance:  ~6 km
Estimated Walking Time: 2 hours
What You’ll See: 6-8 Cafes, 1-2 Japanese sweet shops, 2 important shrines & temples, local canals, a historic Meiji building, and local neighbourhood shopping streets.

  1. Start at 9:30am or later.
  2. Walk from Kiyosumishirakawa Station through Kiyosumi Park towards ARiSE Coffee Entangle* for your first cup, either drip or espresso-based.
    *Note: Opens at 9:30am, closed Mondays. This assumes you are doing a full-day tour beginning in the morning.
  3. Optional: In Kiyosumi Park, just across from ARiSE Coffee Entangle, is the Fukagawa Library, which is a Meiji-Era building. Go inside and check it out! The library is closed on Mondays.
  4. Either chill at ARiSE Coffee Entangle, at Kiyosumi Park, or at the next coffee shop (Blue Bottle Coffee) until around 11am, until the other shops open.
  5. Optional Sight: At the street corner of Kiyomisu Park, just after your cross the street, you can pick up a shio daifuku (salty, sweet red-bean daifuku) at the Fukagawa Iseya at the corner. If it isn’t open yet, you have another chance at the end of this walk at another branch of the same shop.
  6. Continue East to Blue Bottle Coffee*. Have their daily drip coffee or an espresso-based drink. It’s better to go on a weekday to avoid the line-ups. It has three long bar tables for you to sit.
    *Note: Open every day from 9am.
  7. Optional: Go to the next block and try the original ARiSE shop in the corner just up the block from Blue Bottle. It’s been serving drip coffee under the radar, with its skateboard lined walls for years.
  8. Optional Food: Visit Fukadaso* for lunch. They have comfy sofas, a warm lounge atmosphere, and an array of desserts and savory options. At least one of the owners speaks great English, having lived in LA for some time.
    *Note: Opens at 1pm, so if you are too early, move on to the next place below.
  9. Head up (North) through a quiet residential street towards Futaba Okashiji to pick up one of their famous goma daifuku (sesame daifuku). It’s a 65 year-old family shop in the middle of a community commercial street. The owner is a friendly fellow who often stands outside his little shop. You can also check out the other small shops around the area.
  10. Continue heading up (North) and over (East) to Hikidashi Cafe for brunch / lunch. 
  11. Optional: Take a detour to The Northwave Coffee, a hole-in-the wall serving a serious selection of drip coffee. It’s nestled in the Morishita neighbourhood commercial street, which has a selection of small eateries and shops.
  12. Next, head towards The Cream of the Crop Coffee to try a cup of drip coffee. They’re mostly a roastery a few seats to chill on.
  13. Optional:  En route to Cream of the Crop, pick up a shiyo daifuku (salty, but still sweet, red bean daifuku) at Yoshida Sweets. It’s the local specialty! Pick it up on the go or eat in.
  14. Next, when you leave Cream of the Crop, circle behind the roastery to walk along the canal down (South). Canals are a typical part of Koto-ku (Koto Ward) as the area is where three major rivers (the Sumida, Ara, and Edo) empty out into Tokyo Bay. Historically, it’s had many villages, and the gridded canals are remnants from the Edo period.
  15. Continue walking south, and cut through Kiba Park. You will need to head West back to Allpress Cafe to try an espresso based coffee. They are originally from New Zealand and Australia and serves great espresso-based options. They have one long table and a few small tables. If it’s a nice day, you can also sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  16. After that, go down along a pedestrian small park (South) one block to Sunday Zoo* to sample another drip cup.
    *Note: Sunday Zoo is only open Friday and Saturday (10:30-18:00) and Sunday (10:30-16:30).
  17. Walk behind Sunday Zoo and check out the canal.
  18. Cross the bridge and continue down (South) towards Fukagawa Coffee. This is probably the oldest coffee establishment in the area, and looks the part. If the timing is right, have a cake to go with your coffee and just chill with a book to enjoy the jazz music in the background. Read my extended description below!
  19. From Fukagawa Coffee, head under the tall overpass / highway and look for a pedestrian street lined with trees and a tiny creek flowing through. It is one of the historic entrances to the Tomioka Hachimangu, your next stop.
  20. Check out the Tomioka Hachimangu, the shrine where the national sumo wrestlers pray after they’ve won a tournament, home to the largest portable shrine, and an antiques market most Sundays. You can check my extended description here.
  21. After you finish, exit the west entrance and head to the neighbouring Fukagawa Fudo Temple, one of the most important Buddhist temples in the city. It is a lively and active temple, with lectures and an unusual set-up where you can walk inside to a small lecture hall and see the statues and other cultural artefacts of the temple. You can check out my extended description here.
  22. Once you’re done, walk out the main entrance to the local commercial shops (typical of traditional temples and shrines). You can grab a beer at one of the izakayas, sit down in a restaurant, or try the street snacks.
  23. Stop at the Monz Cafe for your last coffee sample of the day.
  24. Continue down the street until the main intersection to
  25. Optional: Pick up a shio daifuku (salty, sweet red-bean daifuku) at the Fukagawa Iseya at the corner of the street, if you didn’t do so earlier. It’s right across from the metro station exit.
  26. Optional: If you’re hungry, visit Menya Endo or Somen Monzennakacho close by (red pins on the map) for some of the best local ramen. Otherwise, head into the Tokyo Metro and head to your next destination!

 

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If you want to learn more about these cafes, you can visit my post with a brief description of their coffee and ambience.

If you found this useful, please share with your friends. Thanks!

2 responses to “Tokyo’s Local Coffee Walking Guide: Kiyosumishirakawa and Fukagawa

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