Precious People-Watching Moments

Now I generally don’t like to promote corporations or chain stores, but I’ll make an exception in this case because of three key factors invaluable to travellers and wanderers–power, people and wi-fi.

Anybody who’s spent 30 seconds in Japan is familiar with UCC–the ubiquitous canned coffee in vending machines throughout the nation. The U in UCC stands for the family name of Tadao Ueshima, who is regarded as “the father of coffee in Japan”, at least according to his company’s website. (There were European coffee houses in Tokyo in 1888.) The C’s, unsurprisingly, stand for Coffee Company.

In 1933, Tadao Ueshima, who had founded a wholesale business in Kobe dealing in butter, jam, and other Western food products, was amazed when he sampled his first cup of coffee at a shop.

With the advent of WWII, coffee imports were banned in Japan and remained so until 1950. Ueshima reignited his coffee business, finally opening his first cafe in Kobe in 1965–a mere 32 years after he first encountered the liquid black gold!

Fifty years later, there are now 155 Ueshima coffee houses across Japan–50 in Tokyo alone. There’s one just outside Koenji Station’s North Exit, however I’m not trying to promote the whole chain–just one location.

People, Power & Wi-Fi

At the midway point of Asagaya’s Pearl Shotengai is the branch in question. It has a table (and a bench) outside the front of the shop as well as a takeout counter. The high table is the perfect location for people-watching, especially on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It seats four, but of course only two seats are facing passersby. The bench in front of the table is lower and offers seating for two.

Perhaps the most incredible thing this inconspicuous little location has to offer is electricity. There is power-charing bar built into the table. It has one USB charging slot and two regular sockets. And that’s not all–the outlets are polarized! (This means it fits those plugs with one side bigger than the other. Which means it permits foreign plugs being inserted into the slot! A lot of apartments don’t even allow this.)

Last but not least, Ueshima has free Wi-Fi, something that is somehow still a rarity in Japan–and even Tokyo.

Oh yeah, they also have great sandwiches… and pretty good coffee.


The power bar
The Egg BLT
A true smoked salmon sandwich: capers, cream cheese, fresh dill and onions. On rye.
Takeout counter and vantage point
Shop info:
Ueshima Coffee House (上島珈琲店)
Asagaya S Bldg 1F
1-36-11 Asagaya-Minami
Suginami-ku, Tokyo, 166-0002
Tel: (03) 5305-5186
Closed: Never
Email:none found
Twitter: @ueshimacoffee

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