If you think you’ve explored everything Tokyo (東京) has to offer, think again. There’s a place in Jiyugaoka (自由が丘) that is literally hidden from the public eye but could make your jaw drop, especially if traditional Japan is your thing.
Kosoan (古桑庵), a tea house, is a real hidden treasure which is open to guests but is often ignored because of its location. There is no eye-catching signage that would tell you of its existence. You can pass by its entrance and still miss the beauty that lies beyond. But not anymore…
Today, we’ll take a peek at this pristine place that retained Japan’s traditional tea house atmosphere, plus the delectable array of authentic Japanese matcha (抹茶) and sweets available on their menu.
With Jiyugaoka’s hip and trendy culture, it can be difficult to imagine how something traditional can exist in the area while maintaining an entirely different ambiance from the city’s modern lifestyle.
Kosoan is set on a 100-year-old Japanese house and it’s almost impossible to tell that it’s actually open to the public. Apart from a wooden signboard with kanji characters, there are no other signs welcoming you to the tea house. But if you have a good eye, you’ll see a narrow pathway with stepping stones that eventually leads you to a beautiful garden just behind the main house.
As you pry open the sliding door and step inside the tea house, you’ll get the feeling of being transported to ancient Japan with a view of tatami (畳) floors, antique furniture, hanging scrolls, Japanese dolls, and vintage pieces of art.
A Japanese staff will then escort you to the main tea room where you can make yourself comfortable.
Complementing the serene ambiance of the area are some delectable treats ideal for a relaxing snack time with friends or while on your solo trip.
By the time you’ve settled down on a spot, you will be given a menu which is written both in Japanese and English, with accompanying images in case you’re not familiar with the delicacy.
Here are some of the treats you should try:
- Amakaze (甘酒) – a sweet wine made from fermented rice
- Shaved ice mixed with anmitsu (あんみつ) – a combination of sweet beans, agar, and black syrup
- Strawberry milkshake
- Iced cappuccino
- Hot matcha with shiratama zenzai (白玉ぜんざい) – white glutinous rice balls and red bean paste
- Frothy matcha served with wagashi (和菓子) – traditional unbaked sweets meant to even out the bitter taste of the green tea
Their menu changes from time to time so be sure to ask one of the staff for their best recommendations.
Kosoan is open daily except on Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 6:30 PM and is approximately a seven-minute walk from Jiyugaoka Station (自由が丘駅).
Just a heads up, people who frequent the place are mostly locals (students, parents with their kids, couples, etc.) so don’t be surprised if you’re the only foreign guest in Kosoan. Given its isolated location, there are only a few travelers who get to discover and enjoy its beauty. You’re part of the lucky ones!
Lastly, if you wish to bring home some proof of your visit, there’s a small shop at the entrance selling homemade items. Grab one memento and share the experience with your loved ones!