Coffee and Books: Visiting retro cafes at the book town “Jimbocho”

The quarter Jimbocho in Tokyo, known as THE book town, has more to offer than books. In this area, you will find many historical and unique coffee shops just by strolling around. This time – as special guests – I took my parents who are visiting Japan to my favorite retro cafes at Jimbocho.

Graffiti all over the walls?! This is why Sabouru is one of the most loved cafes

When you see Sabouru, a coffee shop founded in 1955, for the first time, it makes quite an impact. For some reason, they have a totem pole in front of their entrance.

The entrance of Sabouru (or “savour” – originally from Spanish for “to taste”)

The store looks like a mountain hut. The semi-underground floor looks like a mysterious and attractive grove that is likely to appear in Harry Potter, like a secret society meeting place.

Also – I don’t know why – but every time I visit this cafe I think of the novel “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami. Maybe it’s the atmosphere. I imagine students from nearby universities gathering here in the 60s and 70s, and talking about how they would change the world.

There are countless signs and messages written on the walls. Some are from the student movement and some are famous artists.

You may be surprised, but for “Sabouru” we recommend fresh juice! Strawberry flavor is especially popular.

Fresh juice
Tuna toast

Dad: The juice was delicious! The cafe also had these Japanese thick fluffy toast and sandwiches which I love. You can’t get these in many countries, so therefore I was really happy.

Thick toast slices

Mom: The staff was very friendly. “Sabouru” is a long-established coffee shop and you might expect older customers. But there were many young people and it was a fun atmosphere!

At night, this counter turns into a bar

1-11 Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Nearest station: Jimbocho Station

A famous coffee shop with hand-brewed coffee and amazing coffee beans – Sabo Kanda Burajiru

“Sabo Kanda Burajiru” (“Burajiru”meaning “Brazil”) is very unique. It has European landscape paintings, Japanese washi paper partitions, retro coffee cups, and a fireplace.

This is the entrance of “Brazil” – well-known and long-established cafe in Jimbocho
A traditional Japanese fireplace

The variety of coffee beans make every coffee-lover’s heart beat faster. Especially when he sees with how much love and care every cup of coffee is made hand drip style.

If you like the beans, you can also buy them.

Mum: The cake set was great! The set menu goes well with the coffee. Absolutely recommended!

One look at the menu exactly tells you how the different coffees taste

Dad: The menu has notions about the taste of each coffee. The bitterness is expressed by a dark brown bean mark while the acidity is shown by a light brown bean mark. That’s why I had no difficulties to find the perfect coffee for me even though I can’t read any Japanese. I had “Guatemala” and I tell you: it has been a long time since I had such a delicious coffee.

Dad: “That was really good coffee!”
Sabo Kanda Burajiru

* Smoking allowed
Komiyama Building B1F, 1-7 Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Nearest station: Jimbocho Station

Family photo in front of “Brazil”

If you love coffee, you have to visit at least one of the many retro cafes in Jimbocho. How about coffee time including cake sets with friends and family at a calm location?
Also, if you find a book you like at one of the bookshops, a retro cafe is the perfect place to go and read while enjoying a cup of delicious coffee. Jimbocho is great. That’s for sure. Why don’t you find out for yourself?