The アメ横商店街 Ameyoko Shopping Street in Tokyo's 上野 Ueno neighborhood is one of the most famous shopping streets in Japan.

A beloved Showa era cafe

It also happens to be home to quite a few establishments that have been around since the Showa Era and even earlier. One of them is 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (sometimes written as Oujyou), a traditional 純喫茶 jun kissa coffee shop that has maintained the mood, decor and many of its menu offerings just as they were when it first opened its doors nearly half a century ago in 1975.

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

Whether it's their seats and furnishings, the beautifully decorated ceiling and light fixtures...

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

...the store sign outside with a retro font set on a royal purple background (since 王城 means "royal castle")...

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

or dishes like Napolitan pasta, an iconic menu item strongly associated with the Showa Era...

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

...their morning toast with unbelievably thick slices, served with butter and jam...

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

...or their "cream sodas" (ice cream soda floats), everything about Kōhī Ōjō has a nostalgic mood that continues to please customers.

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

When it comes to desserts, their chocolate parfait is also a popular choice.

Uplifted by a fan's encouraging message

However, just like many customer-facing establishments around the world, Kōhī Ōjō struggled during the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Kōhī Ōjō's Twitter account (@coffeeoujyou), the third-generation owner related an episode that uplifted his spirits and encouraged him to continue the business he had inherited from his father.

In 2020, as the effects of the pandemic became more severe, there were times when Kōhī Ōjō only earned 10,000 JPY (not more than 93 USD at 2020 rates) a day and the possibility of going out of business was constantly on the owner's mind.

Then one day, a customer who had ordered a chocolate parfait left the following message on a paper napkin:

Copyright free images from 珈琲王城 Kōhī Ōjō (@coffeeoujyou)

    It was very tasty.
    Next time I will come back to have the pilaf.
    Don't let Corona win!

The owner was greatly encouraged by the uplifting message of support as well as the cute illustration of the chocolate parfait.

In a follow-up Tweet, the owner ads that it inspired him to keep doing his best and it helped him find the courage to keep going until now.

The Tweet was widely viewed and shared, eliciting numerous comments such as:

  • "It makes me cry. It's so important to communicate your feelings."
  • "I stopped by this store when I was at Ueno Station! The interior and the sweets are wonderful, I want to go back!"
  • "I really want to try their chocolate parfait."
  • "I hope you keep up the good work since you're my favorite cafe. I'm rooting for you too!"

Even if they enjoyed the food and service, not many people in Japan actually convey those feelings to the establishment.

It's a shame since kind words can truly be uplifting, even to the extent of contributing to a cafe or restaurant's decision to remain open.

If you'd like to visit an excellent example of a jun kissa coffee shop with a wonderful Showa era mood and great food and desserts, why not stop by when you're in town?

Store Information

  • Name: 珈琲 王城 Kōhī Ōjō
  • Hours: 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM (last order 6:00 PM), lunch served from 11:00 AM
  • Time restriction: 90 minutes per visit
  • Address (JP): 〒110-0005東京都台東区上野6-8-15
  • Address (EN): 6-8-15 Ueno, Taito Ward, Tokyo 110-0005
  • Access: A 4-minute walk from Ueno Station
  • Tel: 03-3832-2863
  • Reservations: Not taken
  • Payment: Cash or e-money, no credit cards
  • Smoking area: None

By - grape Japan editorial staff.