Looking for a spot away from the hustle and bustle of busy neighborhoods like Shibuya and Shinjuku? Jiyugaoka has got you covered. Literally translating to “Freedom Hill,” Jiyugaoka is filled with trendy boutiques, cozy cafes, and sophisticated zakka stores - Today’s Special is a personal favorite. The neighborhood oozes a chic European feel, even dubbed Little Europe.
Want to be transported to Italy without having to take a flight? Head to La Vita Jiyugaoka. Modeled after the bridges in Venice, you’ll feel immersed in the European aesthetic and there’s even a real gondola! The pedestrianized Marie Claire street offers Parisian vibes with the cobbled roads and endless benches filled with locals. You’ll see leisurely shopping, lots of dog walking and a slow Sunday feel no matter what day you’re there.
The Jiyugaoka food scene is incredibly varied with offerings including traditional Japanese sets, Sardinian sweet treats, Aussie brunch plates, and classic French patisserie. Walking around the neighborhood you’ll see it’s a sweet lover's paradise, with a Sweets Forest dedicated to all things sugar-based. Although much of Jiyugaoka is sleek and sophisticated, there’s plenty of small alleys lined with smokey izakayas, listening bars, and karaoke, keeping the area well balanced and true to Japanese night culture.
Jiyugaoka Station is only a 10-minute train ride from Shibuya on the Toyoko Line making it easily accessible but just far enough to enjoy a slower pace of life.
Here are some of the best cafes and restaurants in Jiyugaoka to curb your cravings for all things sweet, savory & everything in between!
Coffee shops around Tokyo aren’t hard to come by, but a good coffee roaster is something you have to dig a little deeper for. Alpha Beta Coffee Club gives that little bit extra, offering a rotation of curated artisan coffee and a selection of tasty craft beers. Enjoy the fresh air on the outdoor terrace, or the welcoming setup that allows both leisurely coffee drinking alongside ample workspace.
The coffee shop-cum-workspace is a hit amongst the locals; only a short walk from the station, it’s a perfect pit-stop for a coffee and a spot of brunch. Their offerings are simple but tasty, including avocado toast, acai smoothie bowls and a range of toasted sandwiches. The drinks menu includes the usual coffees: drip, espresso, and lattes, as well as teas and soft drinks. On top of this, ABC offers a subscription service, with the aim of introducing specialized coffee into the busy Japanese work life and making the coffee world a lot more accessible.
Jiyugaoka is a sweets haven and Rusa Ruka is one of many reasons why. Famed for their fluffy oven-baked pancake, they have become a success for both sweet and savory pancake delights. Enjoy a variety of flavors including chocolate orange, lemon cream pie, and caramel banana as well as teriyaki chicken, cheese mountain, and silky omelet to name a few! There is a 90-minute window for free pancake refills if the one stack doesn’t quite satisfy. Or enjoy the afternoon tea set for something a little more refined.
Tucked into a more residential area, Rusa Ruka is a 10-minute walk from Jiyugaoka Station. Once inside you will see a quirky interior with eccentric ornaments dotted around the space. The take-out menu also includes my favorite “Fruit Omelette” - fresh seasonal fruit and whipped cream stuffed between a fluffy pancake. The perfect on-the-go treat!
Burgers in Japan are known to be considerably smaller than their American counterparts, but if you’re looking for a jaw-breaking burger, Jiyugaoka Burger has got you covered. Fresh, organic ingredients are what sets these burgers apart, with a rounded menu of the usual suspects: classic, cheese, chili, and even a chicken burger, you know you're in for a treat. All of the burgers are served with smashed roast potatoes rather than fries which adds a little difference. Burger sets start from ¥1200 and a smaller-sized patty (95g) is available for something lighter.
Stacked up high, these burgers are totally photo-worthy and worth the wait. With a terrace-like seating area filled with plants, it’s a great spot to enjoy a juicy burger and a homemade ginger ale during the sunnier months.
Inspired by Melbourne cafe culture, Latte Graphic is a chic space to enjoy specialty coffee alongside a health-conscious food menu. The interior is modern, stylish, and very spacious, with an open kitchen and bar allowing you to engage and appreciate the care going into each dish.
Opening from 7am, Latte Graphic is a hotspot for brunch. Enjoy classics like eggs Benedict, avocado toast, and a full breakfast, all coming in at a super reasonable price (from ¥600). The fresh and light a la carte menu celebrates a plethora of cuisines with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Choose from a truffle & mushroom pizza or an avocado & soy meat salad as well as creamy salmon pasta and Galician-style sauteed octopus.
A focus is placed on their quality coffee using Allpress coffee beans, and with an in-house barista training program, you know your coffee will be great!
Kosoan Tea House is the perfect hideaway for an authentic Japanese tea and wagashi experience. Look closely or you might miss this spot; it’s only the small wooden “open” sign that gives any indication of what the beautiful wooden building houses. The tea house is located around the back with views of a traditional Japanese garden, leaving you feeling like you’re a million miles away from the busy streets of Tokyo, a safe haven.
Inside is as traditional as you would expect, lined with tatami flooring and dark wooden beams with Edo-style art pieces across the walls. The ambiance is relaxed and you feel welcomed as soon as you step foot inside. The menu offers up some tasty Japanese delights including kakigori, anmitsu, shiratama zenzai and some of the finest matcha tea paired with delectable wagashi. There’s also an English menu so you can enjoy the full experience! It really is a moment of calm, a place where you can relax and immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture.
Famed pastry chef Hironobu Tsujiguchi, known for his work at Mont St. Clair, fulfilled his dreams of owning a roll cake and patisserie store. Rollya is a petite bakery housed inside a slither of a building that creates and sells some of the softest roll cakes in Tokyo. Roll cakes are not the only thing that has lines stacking up outside their door; delicate choux buns, soft scones and their trademark swirl cookies are also in the mix.
The roll cakes have a selection of in-house staples such as the classic “Jiyugaoka,” matcha and chocolate, as well as their tempting seasonal flavors. A personal favorite is the "Spring Sakura" roll; subtle cherry notes with a hint of salt from the sakura leaf. All of the sweets are made fresh every morning using the finest Japanese ingredients, ensuring that their precision and care shines through in the quality and presentation. The shop is small and only takeout is available, but the service and welcome from the staff are unrivaled, making it such a pleasure to go here.
With even more delights to be discovered in Jiyugaoka, I urge you to leisurely browse, dig deep and you will be rewarded with some fabulous cafes, tasty sweet treats, and many friendly faces.
Aside from the Jiyugaoka, there are many more charming neighborhoods in Tokyo. Join a food experience in Tokyo and discover them with a local guide!