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Have a Break, Have a Wagashi : Shiseido Parlour & Minamoto Kitchoan @ Ginza

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Every weekend, tens of thousands of Tokyoites flock together on Ginza shopping streets, hopping around designer shops and hyped restaurants or just enjoying a little window shopping. In the afternoon, after having enjoyed whatever, they need to find a place to sit down and have a break. Seeking out a traditional cafe like GINZA WEST is definitely a good choice, and there are more opportunities to find a cozy space unique to this luxurious area. Here are some places I recommend.

Shiseido, now Japan's largest cosmetics company, had an American style drugstore in Ginza 100 years ago. The founder was really attracted to US contemporary culture, and so imported a soda fountain from the US and installed it in his store. This was the start of SHISEIDO PARLOUR cafe & restaurant, which is still in operation at the same location.

The first floor of an eleven-story building established in 2001 is a confectionery shop, and at a corner is a waiting list for the cafe on the third. After browsing through the store waiting for your name to be called, you are asked to take an escalator up to the third floor. On reaching the top, you find yourself in a luxurious hall with pink decorations and white tablecloths.

In the room, time seems to slow down. It's as if you've been transported back to one hundred years ago. I ordered a pastel-coloured Ice Cream Soda Float, which hasn't changed its flavour since 1903. The sweetness of ice cream and soda juice must've enchanted Tokyoites back then, and it's just as refreshing and delicious to this day.

As a delicate touch, dishes full of fruits also decorate the tables. If you’re in the mood to taste them all, why not try “Shiseido Parlour Story,” a dessert sampler of the month in which you can enjoy all seasonal dishes.

For "WAGASHI" Japanese confectionery lovers, MINAMOTO KITCHOAN definitely has the best selection. The shop started in Okayama Pref, then moved to Ginza and built their headquarters. Nowadays its brand is widely known to foreigners, as they have expanded internationally and have opened thirty branches overseas.

The coffee shop is located on its second and third floor. Cozy tables and chairs under warm ceiling lights and traditional Japanese ornaments welcome every guest looking for a chance to take their weight off their feet and put down their heavy shopping bags.

On the menu is a combination of Wagashi confectionery and Matcha tea. At a first glance, wagashi may look a bit smaller than anticipated, but that’s okay. Remember, in Japanese tea ceremonies, drinking tea is the main thing and wagashi is just an accompaniment to enhance the umami of the tea. When I tried this combination, cutting the wagashi into pieces and drinking tea in turn, to my surprise, I finished my tea first. But no worries, another helping of tea is complimentary so you can linger longer.

Besides the wagashi platter, this cafe's specialty is actually fruit desserts. Authentic European desserts, like pudding a la mode or tarte tatin, add more beauty and richness to the tables.

On the way out, at the confectionery shop on the first floor, I found the same wagashi pieces I just had in the cafe. After selecting a few morsels, I left the building with yet another shopping bag!

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