Demon Slayer, or Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 in Japanese, is the highest-grossing Japanese film of this year. The film is based on a phenomenally popular manga series, also called Demon Slayer, which to date has run to 120 million copies, making it one of the best-selling manga of all time.

Demon Slayer is set in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). Thanks to its runaway success, Taisho Romanticism is having something of a revival in Japan. Inspired by the manga series’ retrospective appreciation of the charm and sophistication of early twentieth-century Tokyo, a new ‘Taisho Roman’ cafe has just opened near Akihabara.

Nagomi Café is not a maid cafe but a tea parlour-cum-sitting room, with a Taisho era-style interior, designed to capture the romance of the time.

Nagomi Café calls itself a study cafe and has everything you might want to spend time working at your laptop or studying. The lighting is low and soothing piano music wafts through the speakers. Shelves of old English language books on the walls are designed to create a suitably studious ambiance.

Until the coronavirus hit Japan, this was an internet café called Nagomi Style Akiba. But the lockdown forced the management to close its doors in April and during the enforced hiatus, they had a rethink about what kind of space they wanted their café to be.

It was reborn as Nagomi Café in November 2020 as a hybrid of early twentieth-century Tokyo and London, but also as a hybrid of a café and a hotel. In its previous incarnation, there was no open dining area, just private booths, but during the refit, a large café area was created.

The walls were papered with beautiful wallpaper and Taisho era lamps and Chesterfield sofas were brought in, combining fixtures and fittings from Japan and England.

There are lots of other Taisho era adornments for visitors to appreciate, from the period door at the entrance to the stained glass in the windows. The spacious cafe area is lined with Victorian Era English bookshelves and furniture, and some of the tableware, glasses and cups have also been shipped over from the UK.

It’s only when you look beyond the café area that realise just what kind of study the management had in mind when they created the Nagomi Café. Behind the café is a library of approximately 10,000 manga comics, which customers are free to browse and read, and a warren of tiny reading rooms.

Photo by George Lloyd

Nagomi Café’s manga library holds all of the most popular manga series of recent years (including Demon Slayer, of course), although the most remarkable part of the collection is a small but carefully curated selection of famous comics from the Taisho period.

Nagomi Café is a place manga fans will find hard to leave. There are around 40 private booths, some big enough for three people but most designed for just one, which you can rent for anything from an hour (¥700) to 24 hours (¥5000).

Retreat to a private booth with a stack of your favourite comics and you might not come out for weeks. If you get thirsty, there’s a coffee machine. If you get hungry, there is a kitchen serving perennial crossover favourites like curry rice and castela. And when your body starts to hum, there’s even a shower room (30 minutes for ¥600).

Last but not least, you might feel tempted by the gifts and sundries on offer in the Official Iwashita New Ginger Museum Shop in Akihabara, which you’ll find in the reception area. Tokiwa Yokomiya, the charming manager of Nagomi Café, says there are plans to introduce dishes using Iwashita New Ginger in the near future.

Nagomi Café is in the basement of the Sakai Suehiro Building at 6-14-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021, right outside Suehirocho station.

The café is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, see their website here. You can contact them at email or call 03-6284-4369.

By - George Lloyd.