March 16, 2023

Everything everywhere all in my tummy day 6: 3 cafés

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It's our second morning in Tokyo, and time to get ourselves some coffee. We were starting to feel a little tired from the traveling, so we got ourselves out the door around an hour later than I had planned. No matter. Still plenty of time to hit two cafés, both in the Tsukiji (築地) neighborhood.

I first came across Coffee Amikane (コーヒー網兼) in 2014 when Fergie and I were wandering around the Tsukiji Outer Market (築地場外市場). It's a cute little hole-in-the-wall, and back then Hatsue baa-chan just looked soooo cute in her apron, working the enamel pot and heating the coffee cups in a water bath over a gas stove with two hobs. The coffee was simple and cheap, but Fergie and I just loved the place with the vibe. It had been open for more than 50 years by then, and it was just a piece of Tsukiji's history. I managed to return the following year for another visit, but hadn't had to opportunity to go back since then. With each subsequent visit to Tokyo, I wondered about the lovable grandma, especially considering her advanced age. Was she still with us, and was she still running the shop?

Some time last year I came across an Instagram account purporting to be run by the café. This made me all the more curious about the current status of the place, so I put it on our itinerary for this trip.

We sat down and I ordered up a cup of coffee. It still costs JPY 250 and the taste doesn't seem to have changed. I am ever so grateful for that.

On my first visit I told myself that I would also order the toast on the next visit, which I failed to do. So I made sure to ask for it today, and chose homemade apple "jam" as the topping. I actually really liked this.

I did ask about Hatsue baa-chan, and was relieved to hear that she's well, alive but not quite kicking as she has mobility issues. She is currently in a care home and no longer works at the café. I am comforted at hearing the news. After all, she's well over 90 years old by now.

This was a pretty small and relatively weak cup of coffee, so we walked a few blocks to Turret Coffee. This place has made a name for itself, and the number of seats indoors is just as small as Coffee Amikane.

I took a sea salt caramel latte and was surprised at the size of the cup. I was also surprised at how strong the coffee was, although this was masked somewhat by the milk and the caramel. I thought this would have been exactly what Foursheets needed, but she would tell me later that her digestive system had trouble handing it.

Our next stop was Shibuya Sky, the observation deck on top of Shibuya Scramble Square (渋谷スクランブルスクエア). I had looked at the website for booking tickets, and it appeared there were still available tickets in the morning, so I didn't bother to complete the booking. That turned out to be a big mistake, as all tickets for the day had been sold out when we arrived.

Given Foursheets' condition, I knew I needed to get lunch taken care of ASAP, so I abandoned both options I had prepared and we just dined at Toriya Kou NEO (とりや幸 NEO) in the building.

I took the lunch set with deep-fried chicken thigh and cartilage (匠の大山鶏ももと軟骨のから揚げ). The fried chicken was pretty decent, although relatively under-seasoned.

After lunch saw us take a train ride to Kichijoji (吉祥寺) for the main event of the day - at least for Foursheets. The minute we found out about Capyneko Cafe (カピねこカフェ) it got added to our itinerary. After our happy visit to play with some capybaras in Taiwan last year, Foursheets couldn't wait to play with one again.

The shop is pretty much by reservation only, and there is room for 6 patrons for each 1-hour timeslot, which can be extended by 30 minutes for an additional fee.

There are about a dozen cats here, in various stages and poses of slumber. Their photos and names, along with a short introduction, are posted on the wall for our reference. They also have a roster of cats who have "graduated", meaning they have been adopted into families.

But the star is undoubtedly Kiichan (きいちゃん), the lone capybara in the house. She is very very cute.

As soon as Kiichan is allowed to come out to play, the staff brings out plates of food for her. Initially the plates are placed in front of the patrons so that she would be near them and give the patrons an opportunity to pet her and take photos/videos. And she ain't numb. She runs after the staff as soon as the plate is empty. Which is why she gets multiple plates during the hour, alternating between cabbage and kibbles.

The cats loved to get attention and scratches. They also find that the top of the container that keeps the hot drinks warm to be a good place to nap.

Time flies when you're having fun, and our 1 hour was soon up. We said our goodies by Kiichan and the kitties, and hope that they find good homes sooner rather than later.

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