Archive for August, 2014

Monozuki: Nishi-Ogikubo outpost of old school coffee

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

monozuki interior 2

Time has stopped in Monozuki, a charming old school kissaten a few minutes from Nishi Ogikubo station. This phenomenon may be due to the fact that none of the pendulums are swinging inside the dozens of antique wall clocks gracing the rough walls or because since Monozuki opened 39 years ago nothing has changed except the lines on the faces of the longtime regular customers.

monozuki floorWell, one more change—the mastership passed from the previous owner to  Yamada Hiromasa decades ago. Yamada left everything the same, still brewing Monozuki’s delicious coffee, cup by cup, using the paper drip method.

Monozuki is an exemplar of the mountain-lodge style of kissaten that spread across Tokyo in the 60s and 70s. The interiors are all rough-hewn timbers, antique lamps, framed oil paintings, and vintage knickknacks.

Saboru and Ladorio in Jimbocho are other classic models of this nostalgic trend. For the younger generation of Japanese, who think coffee shops equal Starbucks or Tully’s, these old school kissaten are eye-openers.

Not surprisingly, though, some regulars are college students who know great coffee when they taste it, and who need a quiet place to study. The background music is jazz, and the large globe aquarium with the lone goldfish swimming in circles makes for a soothing ambiance.


monozuki plum cakeA recent cup of deeply-flavored Kilimanjaro (¥500) showed off this bean’s pleasant bitterness balanced by its subtle acidity.

The shop also offers house-made cakes. The summer’s plum pound cake (¥380) is superb.

Monozuki’s prices are very reasonable. Most coffee shops charge at least ¥700 for their straight brews. A cup of the Monozuki Blend is only ¥450.

For that price, you can sit as long as you care to writing your unfinished novel, planning your next business venture, chatting with old friends, or just watching the hands of the clocks paused at their particular moment.


3-12-10 Nishi-ogi Kita

Suginami Ward

Tel: 03.3395.9569

Open daily 12 noon to 9 pm. Monozuki is about a five-minute walk from the north exit of Nishi-ogikubo station.monozuki exterior