Book lovers, we’ve found the perfect paradise for you in Jimbocho, the second-hand book capital of Tokyo. A sanctuary for book lovers and students alike, Jimbocho is strategically located between universities. From trade books, paperbacks, and leather bounds of all genres; you name it, they’ve got it. Any bookworm will surely have their kid-in-a-candy-store moment at Tokyo’s Jimbocho. And the best accompaniment to a great book is, of course, a great cup of joe. Jimbocho has a wide array of coffee shops offering cozy nooks where you can get lost in new worlds composed of paper and ink, in your mint or not-so-mint books. This Jimbocho Food Guide will introduce you to the top places to dine or grab a cup of coffee while you get comfy with a new (or old) book.
Starting off our list of some of the most well-loved cafés in Jimbocho is Saboru, a kissaten, or traditional Japanese cafe. Saboru, meaning “to skip school” is the perfect place to hide away from the world for a day. Its quaint interior is laden with all sorts of knick-knacks, cluttering the cottage-like shop. There are two Saboru shops, located right next to each other. Saboru 1 is a cafe offering snacks and a good cup of joe, while Saboru 2 is a lunch spot known for Japanese-style spaghetti, heavy on the ketchup. One unique thing about Sabouru’s morning coffee is that it is served with peanuts, which apparently is a custom in Ethiopia, coffee-growing country. The café also serves breakfast and snacks and is frequented by students looking for a study nook.
2. Paperback Café
Another popular place in Jimbocho to get your dose of caffeine is Paperback Café, which is housed at the bookstore Tokyodo, a nearly 100-year old establishment. Want to get some work done in a cozy and relaxed environment? With free Wi-Fi and many konsento (Japanese for “electrical outlet”), this is the spot for you. The café serves affordable coffee and sandwich sets, as well as few varieties of spaghetti, and desserts like cheesecake and coffee-flavored Mont Blanc. True to its name, Paperback Café has a huge collection of paperbacks for you to peruse at your leisure while sipping a hot cup of joe.
3. Glitch Coffee & Roasters
For a seriously killer cup of coffee in Tokyo, head on to the Glitch Coffee & Roasters main store in Jimbocho. You’ll be welcomed with the wafting scent of freshly-roasted-and-brewed coffee and the sight of burlap sacks stuffed with top-quality coffee beans. At Glitch, you can even see the in-house roasting machine, a sign that the folks working there take their coffee seriously, with the dedication to craft the perfect cup of coffee from start to finish every time. However, while they may strive for perfection at Glitch, the owner, Suzuki Kiyokazu, also has an appreciation for failures in life. The name “Glitch” refers to the wonderful discoveries that can arise even from errors.
4. Yamituki Curry
If you are craving something hearty for lunch or dinner after passing a few hours in a cozy coffee shop, try Yamituki Curry, which serves several different types of curry and offers five heat levels to challenge your taste buds. Not quite Indian or Thai style, Yamituki Curry does its own thing, even incorporating cheese into a few curry dishes. Their menu is also very affordable; all of their curries are 900 yen or under and are served with rice.
5. Craft Beer Market Terrace
If you’re into the craft beer scene in Tokyo, the Craft Beer Market Terrace, which boasts thirty taps of both Japanese and international origins, is the place to wind down (or wind up) for the evening. The terrace outside, which seats about twenty people, is the perfect place to hang out on a cool evening, sipping an icy cold beer while chatting with buddies. While they have a table charge fee of 300 yen and a maximum stay of two and a half hours, this rule keeps the bar from becoming overly packed and the atmosphere stays relaxed and chill. Glasses go for 480 yen, while pints are priced at 780 yen, and the beer menu’s offerings are always changing. The food menu consists of succulent slow-roasted chicken made in-house, and casual bistro-style foods.
Jimbocho, the second-hand book capital of Tokyo, is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day cafe-hopping with a worn, dog-eared paperback in hand. You can find all kinds of study nooks, places to caffeinate and power through your work, or eclectic little cafes to enjoy a novel and a little afternoon snack. Later, treat yourself to a wide selection of thirst-quenching craft beers. It’s the perfect way to spend a chill day in Jimbocho.
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.