Feel the Japanese 70’s – Traditional Café “Miwa”

Feel the Japanese 70’s – Traditional Café “Miwa”
19 March 2016 Shohei Fujita Pop Culture, Food
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My co-worker noticed that I started writing articles here, so he recommended me a café near our office to write about. According to him, the café is “Matured with time and filled with unknown comfort”. I decided to visit there during my lunchbreak one day. A good cup of coffee is considered as a must have for the average office worker, and that’s no different in Japan.

So above is the look of the café. It’s named “Miwa” and that’s all information I had. Take a look at that brilliant purple of the electric signboard. “純喫茶” (Junkissa) means a café that doesn’t serve alcohol. This way of saying `café` was said during the Showa Era (1926-1989), but the name has already lost its meaning, since nowadays people simply say “café” and they don’t expect to drink alcohol there. So if you see a signboard that says “純喫茶”, it means that the café has been in business for at least 30 years. It’s like the same thing as you don’t see the phrase “SUPER RAD!” or something nowadays. The word “Rad” meaning it’s something from the 80’s.

Stepping in, I realized why my fellow co-worker suggested this place. It has a distinctive style of the cafés of Showa Era. He knew what I liked; Lots of low red sofas and tables are linearly placed as if they are on an invisible chessboard. Beautiful (and elegantly matured) waitresses wear cherry-red dress uniform which the fashion is a different culture than mine, being born in the Heisei era (1989-Present). A cup of coffee is 300 yen, quite cheap compared to the national average price of 420 yen. The lighting is nice and comfortably dark. If they served alcohol, customers would be staying here forever, sleeping or seducing someone.

Here’s a fun tip. If you enter this kind of café, take a seat and when the waitress comes close, immediately tell her “hot”. Then she knows you want a “hot” cup of coffee. Don’t worry, it will be taken as an absolutely ordinary order. I always came to this thought whenever I say “hot” to the waitress, but it will only mean “a hot cup of coffee”. You’ll need a different line when you think she really is hot.

So, well then, coffee is served. To tell you the truth, the quality of coffee was fine, so I am indifferent. The taste is just OK. This place is more for comfort that anything else. The low sofa lets you sit back and relax. People are chatting silently, a sound of trumpets filling the room, and I actually went to sleep, unintentionally losing my precious work hour.

Last but not least, this café is partially a smoking establishment. You can feel the purple perfume of cigarettes, even from the non-smoking corners. Love it or hate it, but understand that this place was established during the Showa Era. Back then, smoking was considered cool. Do you remember, or know the time when movie stars were smoking in films? Everybody was smoking everywhere.

Personally, I like smoking in cafés. Trivial thing, but in Japanese “café” is written “喫茶店” and it contains a Kanji “喫”, which literally means “Smoking”. But nowadays, even a Non-smoking café has signboards written with “喫茶店”. I am kind of peeved that they don’t rename it to “茶店” – But I digress,

While I was checking out, the beautiful waitress in the cherry-red dress counted my coins and told me “Thank you for visiting!” I asked her “How long has this café been running for?” and she replied, “Oh boy, it’s been 50 years!” and she smiled. What I almost told her was “So you’ve been working here for 50 years?” but I refrained. Because, you know, you its not polite to ask a beautiful lady how old she is.


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