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Tranquil moment in a tea room : TORAYA @ Akasaka

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

A ten-minute walk from AKASAKA Metro Station, facing the Akasaka Imperial Residence where the Akishinono-miyas, the Emperor's brother's family reside, there's the flagship building of the TORAYA Japanese confectionery store and its tea room. Toraya has long held the Emperor's royal warrant ever since 16c of the Muromachi Era starting in Kyoto. It changed its location to Tokyo in 19c when the Emperors' family and the capital of this country moved to Tokyo.

The wood based building, recently refurbished, is designed to be modern and simple yet still maintains its long tradition. Its surprisingly spacious floor plan in the centre of the capital makes visitors feel relaxed. Although the tea room on the third floor has a long queue of around 60 minutes every weekend, visitors can enjoy the waiting time in a museum in the basement to learn the history of the store, or in a shop on the second floor to browse special seasonal products. There's no need to worry about losing your place in the queue, as it's controlled digitally so that everyone can check the status on the web.

When it's their turn, each group is ushered into a room with bright sunlight from large windows. There's not much to the menu: a piece or slice of confectionery picked up from the shop and a pot of green tea. It's true that anyone can have the same items at home, so why do so many people bother to visit this small tea room?

You'll find the answer once you experience it. You see the small confectionery neatly placed on a black tray. You may slice it into smaller pieces and take plenty of time to eat them with each sip of tea. You can understand how comfortable it is to feel as if time is standing still and how privileged you are to be savoring a tranquil moment filling this tea room.

Placed in the centre of the photo above is a slice of 'yokan' azuki bean jelly, designed to look like a tiger's stripes. 'Toraya' literally means 'Tiger shop' and this product is sold exclusively in this main store. It won't take long to eat up this small slice of Yokan, even if you slice it into much tinier pieces. Nevertheless, you must be feeling happier when you finish it all. Then, it's time to go downstairs to buy newly designed wagashi (Japanese confectionery) products. Those are the must have items to recreate the tranquil experience in your own home.

Photos on the Menu. Cards Accepted.

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