Kayaba Coffee, situated in Yanaka, a popular tourist destination in downtown Tokyo, has been beloved by locals for over 100 years.
Despite closing its doors once, thanks to the voices of the locals, the shop reopened and came back to life stronger than ever. This coffee shop is popular with people of all kinds, with a unique charm that conveys both its modernness as well as its cozy, old-fashioned charm.
Introducing Kayaba Coffee, where you can experience the unique "kissaten culture" of Japan, and learn about its differences from region to region.

What is a kissaten and how does it relate to Japanese cafe culture?

Image source: PIXTA

The image of the "kissaten" (喫茶店) in Japan is similar to, but a little different than that of the "cafe."
Nowadays, a "kissaten" refers to a place where you can drink coffee that usually has a traditional, retro vibe. A "cafe" is more of a chic, modern shop where you can enjoy coffee as well as the newest sweets.
However, the cafe actually has a much longer history in Japan.
The first cafe in Japan was said to be the Kahisakan, which opened in Ueno, Tokyo, in 1888. Here, people could mingle with each other while enjoying a nice fresh cup of coffee. Afterward, the concept gradually spread throughout the world. From the Taisho Period to the early Showa Period, cafes began to spring up all over.
At that time, the word "cafe" referred to more than just these shops where you could drink coffee and mingle. It also referred to bars, cabaret clubs, and other such places in which customers were served alcohol by female staff.
To distinguish one from the other, shops that purely sold coffee and light meals came to be known as "jun-kissa" (純喫茶) or "kissaten" – coffee shops.

Morning Service Breakfast Menu

One unique part of kissaten culture is the Morning Service. When you order coffee at breakfast time, you can also get bread, eggs, or salad added on for free, or at a discount. This morning service is often simply called 'Morning,' or モーニング in Japanese. It also refers to the breakfast menu itself.

Where the name "Morning Service" came from is not exactly clear, although there are several theories that it began in Aichi and Hiroshima prefectures. One of the predominant theories is that it started as a service for people who used kissaten for morning business negotiations where they served peanuts and boiled eggs.
Eventually, each shop developed its own original menu consisting of popular breakfast foods, such as egg sandwiches and…

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