A review of traditional kissaten (coffeehouse) in Shinjuku. Teijimaya Coffee sits at the edge of Omoideyokocho, aka Yakitori Alley. Notes are by an amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Most photos are shot with a second-hand Fujifilm X100 and illustrations are by a fellow cafe-goer Natalie Bleakly.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Apple pie is served cold with generous chunks of fruit — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

In Shibuya, the crossing — where the milieu converges and disperses into the fashion centres left and right, or perhaps the cafes tucked away in smaller lanes just beyond.

In Shinjuku, the train tracks — where silver serpents thread through the expansive landscape of neon and above the clattering heels working through the nostalgic alleyways.

In Shinjuku, one thinks of lights, bars, yakitori and the frantic, organic energy that is the city of Tokyo. Shinjuku is also a place of nostalgia, wrapped discretely in every corner that one cares to look. One of those places is the Teijimaya Coffee.

 

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

At the entrance of Omoideyokocho in Shinjuku — Photo by Athena Lam

The coffeehouse sits incongruously with its surroundings on a prominent corner with the cramped, sizzling, smoky eateries just behind. Yet, since its establishment in 1964 alongside the skewer joints of Yakitori Alley, Teijimaya has remained a quiet cornerstone of old kissaten, Japanese coffeehouse, culture amidst Shinjuku’s sea of futuristic LEDs and psychedelic signboards.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Photographing other people is not allowed, but the food is fine — Photo by Athena Lam

At about ¥1100 for a coffee set, Teijimaya is likely not a place to visit daily. However, the drink and light snack is a good ticket to enjoying the Showa Era ambience that local patrons with pipes will bring. Yes, the place is smoking friendly.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Chocolate toast coffee set — Photo by Athena Lam

An English menu is available. In summary, patrons can order a single origin coffee (generally starting at ¥600), the Teijimaya special, or a set.  The coffee sets include chocolate toast, cake, and apple pie and a chocolate brownie. Note that with the exception of the toast, all the other items are served from the refrigerator.

The coffee is standard kissaten — quite a dark roast. It’s not burnt, so I drink it fine black. However, I recommend coming here more for the ambiance, and the decent enough coffee and snack is more a bonus.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Second floor bar table seating at Tejimaya Coffee — Photo by Athena Lam

Teijimaya Coffee has space for remote work, although no plugs or Wi-Fi. The only reason I would suggest not bringing a large laptop is that it doesn’t fit the implicit culture of the place (a book, letters, or anything analogue is great, though).

Their Story / What I like About Them:

Tejimaya Coffee is a relic of Showa Era Shinjuku. Even though they have a total of three branches now, all of them are within a 10-minute walk of Shinjuku Station. Like many other kissaten, they roast their own beans.

natalie bleakly illustration

Illustration by Natalie Bleakly

Many of the kissaten that have survived modernisation will have a similar ambiance to Teijimaya Coffee, down to the china cups. This one has been successful and has built upon its success by accumulating a collection of items that make it charming: display plates, old kettles, and the like.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Ground floor seating feels like it’s from a bygone era — Photo by Athena Lam

Each of these items is kept in pristine condition, turning the space into a living museum.

Tajimaya Coffee 但馬屋珈琲店 本店

Retro prints — Photo by Athena Lam

As a random, personal thing, I happen to like their apple tart. The tart is nothing like the North American version, but is yummy in its generous chunks of soaked apples.

natalie bleakly illustration

Individual China cups at Teijimaya Coffee — Illustration by Natalie Bleakly

Good For:

  • Coffee: Pour over coffee (single origin and blends)
  • Food: Lunch, coffee set
  • Cafe Space: Ground floor and second floor (Note: smoking friendly)
  • Friends: Hangouts, catching up, reading
  • Workspace: Not the best for a laptop unless you get a table and go during weekdays
  • Remote Work: Bring your own pocket WiFi.
Address:  〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿1-2-6
1-2-6 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
Website:  Website
Hours 

営業日
定休日: 元旦

Daily: 10:00-23:00
Closed during New Years

If you liked this post, check out my list of Off-Centre Tokyo Cafes.

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