As if by magic, time has stopped inside the coffee shop, Jashumon, just a short minute from Ogikubo station. This old kissaten started serving coffee, tea, and other drinks in 1955.
If you are an intrepid wanderer of this vast city, you may discover in other backstreets of other languishing neighborhoods old kissaten bearing the same name, “Jashumon.” These iterations resemble each other in their collections of antique clocks gracing the tinged walls, their abundance of lanterns and lamps lighting the heavy-framed oil paintings crowding the pendulum clocks, and their preservation of a venerated past.
The original Jushamon operated on a side street in Kunitachi for decades. (The small, leaning building still sits there locked up tight.)
The coffee shop owner and proprietor, Nawa-san, was also an accomplished magician who, more than half a century ago, had tutored a group of young people in the art of legermain. And in honor of their revered teacher, some pupils opened their own “Jushamon” kissaten in different parts of the city.
Walking up and down the very steep stairs from the first floor kitchen to the second floor coffee room must be keeping Furota-san spry. (The photo shows the view from upstairs.)
She will arrive at your table with a pleasant smile and your carefully prepared cup of the day’s featured bean, or your cappucino, your “Vienna” coffee—black coffee with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, or your sophisticated Italian coffee.
This Jashumon speciality comes with a cup of hot lemonade which you are to sip between sips of the dark Italian roast.
On a recent visit, Furota-san commented on the collection of ancient muskets racked above a window. She says these weapons found their way into her family generations ago, and they were fired in three wars: the Spanish War of Independence, the American Civil War, and the Satsuma Rebellion of the samurai.
Some people have commented that, at her age, Furota-san should retire and take it easy, but she says that as long as the joren (the regular customers) keep coming, she’ll keep going.
Sitting at second-floor table, looking at the defunct dusty reel-to-reel tape recorder, the stack of discolored manga, or the grafitti of names and dates scratched or inked onto the walls, one indeed is transported to an earlier, analog Tokyo.
Back in the day, Furota-san helped lay the bricks that support the walls that support the multitude of clocks which are now tick-tocking away the minutes.
1-6-11 Kami Ogi, Suginami Ward
Open daily 2:30 pm to 9:30pm
Jashumon is just a minute walk from the north exit of Ogikubo station. Exit the station and bear right. You’ll soon see the overhead yellow sign of the “Ogikubo North Exit Shotengai.” Turn in there.