A dimly-lit little café with just a few wooden tables, Miles Davis playing in the background, and hundreds of photos of cats that lined the walls.
The thick fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans that permeate the air of the place.
A cuppa hot chocolate between my hands, providing the much-needed warmth.
Everything about this little hole-in-the-wall contributed towards a perfect escape from the cold, rainy outdoors I had just come from. And more so, this establishment provided a much appreciated reprieve from the hustle and bustle of ever-busy Tokyo.
Nestled in the neighbourhood of Yanaka, Tokyo, is Café Rampo. If I had to describe the café in a single sentence, I’d say it’s a tiny café where the owner has a penchant for cats and jazz.
The people in Yanaka love cats apparently; the whole neighbourhood was filled with statues, posters, monuments of cats as well as the actual creatures. (Or does “Yanaka” mean “cat” in Japanese? Perhaps someone could enlighten me on this) But one could say that this particular cafe perhaps exemplified one’s true love for cats.
The owner, an elderly man, who understood enough English to take my order, tinkered behind the messy counter, occasionally brewing some coffee, washing some cups, or perhaps just acting busy. I was practically the only guest in the café for the 45 minutes I was there; one person walked in for five minutes, spoke to the owner then left without even a drink.
After serving me my cup of hot chocolate, he came by again, with a guestbook, filled with writings and drawings from guests over the years, and notioned for me to write something in it as well. He came by a second time, this time, to pass me a map of the area, and on the map he circled the location of his humble little café, perhaps in hope that I’d share with others the joy of simply sitting in his cafe doing absolutely nothing.
And indeed, here it is, a quiet café in the busy Tokyo, worth visiting and sharing:
2-9-14 Yanaka, Tokyo, Japan