Unwind at a Kissaten
Kissaten, which literally translates to “tea-drinking shop” in Japanese, are traditional cafes which grew in popularity during the Showa era (1926-1989). Rooted in the nostalgia of dim-lit wooden interiors and a no-frills approach to coffee and cake, Japan’s kissaten (or kissa for short) are known for their special, often moody atmospheres, a key reason why they continue to thrive today. It’s worth mentioning that a junkissa (pure cafe) is a kissaten which only serves coffee and no alcoholic beverages. Many junkissa are over 50 years old with a distinctly retro feel and old-school menus hard to find in today’s cafe scene. Whether you’re looking to lounge over a cup of joe or a glass of cold beer, here are some amazing kissaten to check out in Yokohama.
Coffee Graduate School Lumiere de Paris: Quality you can taste and feel within a leisurely atmosphere.
This cafe’s name alone will draw you in. Once you walk, excitedly, into Coffee no Daigakuin (which translates to “Coffee Graduate School”) Lumiere de Paris, its interior and atmosphere will never disappoint. The coffee’s flavor confirms that you are visiting a legitimate junkissa (traditional “pure cafes” that primarily serve coffee). Usually 10g of coffee beans are served for a cup of coffee but this particular cafe uses 20g and is dripped with a siphon. Every good junkissa serves quality food and this cafe is not an exception. Spaghetti, curry, hamburg steaks and Western-style fried shrimp, sandwiches and croque monsieur are sure to fill your stomach.
There is a noticeable French influence which is naturally reflected by the name Lumiere de Paris. Additionally, the 20th century French writer Proust in “In Search of Lost Time” writes of madeleine cakes and tea, which draw the protagonist into a recollection of the past. These are some of the most popular vignettes at the beginning of the story but croque monsieur also appears in this seminal novel. A classic French snack. It’s easy to lose yourself in junkissa-style cafes as they have a unique ambiance which is reflected through these idiosyncrasies. So are boyfriends and girlfriends who used to secretly come to gather at cafes. Step back into “good old times” over a croque monsieur and cup of aromatic coffee.
What will you order and what kind of memories will you recollect?
Coffee No Daigakuin Lumiere de Paris
1-18 Aioicho, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Mon – Fri 9:30am – 9:30pm, Sat 10:30am – 9:30pm
Closed Sun and Hol
A picturesque kissaten that will make you feel just as special as your surroundings, Model is worth a stop on your Yokohama journey.
Certain places have the strange yet magical effect of slowing down time, or transporting you to a different time altogether. In Japan, such spaces are found in traditional cafes known as junkissa (literally “pure cafe”). Model is one such cafe, classic with the nostalgic flair characteristic of junkissa culture – difficult to find in an era of more modern, casual cafes. A maze of red brick walls serves as partitions between tables, where customers can nestle into their seats as they await their order. Seated beside a window draped by a lace curtain, you can watch the shifting silhouettes of passerby as copper lamps overhead envelop you in their warm glow.
Model may appear to be just another retro coffee shop, but a step inside and you’ll understand what makes this place special. The cafe has attracted numerous filmmakers and media personalities, and has featured as a backdrop for magazine photoshoots and scenes in the movie Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (starring Riisa Naka). “Picturesque” may be the best word to describe this junkissa. Despite its popularity, the cafe gives off no air of pretension. A small, family-owned business, Model welcomes all who enter its doors.
If you happen to be in the vicinity of spots like Harbor View Park or the Foreign General Cemetery, Model is a certainly a worthy stop.
1-7 Yoshihamacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Sun – Mon 10am – 5pm (Open year-round)