Shinjuku is one of the most buzzing places in the world. But you might like to have some quiet in such a place. Where could you possibly do that? Try Shinjuku Gyoen Roman-tei, a cozy wa- (Japanese) cafe right across from the Gyoen National Park’s main gate.
It is already calming just to walk from JR Shinjuku Station towards Roman-tei – the street increasingly becomes quester along the Shinjuku Gyoen, with less and less people on the footpath. After a nice 15 to 20 minute stroll and passing some cool and upmarket cafes and shops, you’ll see the main gate (大木戸門) and Roman-tei emerges at the very corner.
Walking inside Roman-tei, it feels like we were back in the Taisho Period (1912-26). As its name already suggests, Roman-tei is all about “Taisho Roman”. It refers to cultural stylings that emerged during this period, and indeed Roman-tei has a romantic vintage feel. As you walk in, the first thing you notice is the three-seater velvet sofa that would have been a rare and expensive piece of furniture in the period. Don’t be shy and take that sofa if it’s available – it’s the most comfortable seat you can find in Shinjuku.
Roman-tei is well known for its Japanese wa- (Japanese) sweets menu. If you google “Great matcha sweets in Shinjuku”, Roman-tei pops up everywhere. According to one staff, who dressed just like a waiting person from the Taisho Period, their signature and most popular sweet is matcha parfait (1080 yen). If you order a dessert, you’ll get a drink for only 200 yen.
It is a cozy place, with nine or so wooden tables and the red velvet sofa. Many of the customers during our visit were sitting alone, reading a book or checking iPhone. No one was talking. Silence was broken only when a group of cheerful elderly women walked in, chatting earnestly that it was a great idea to go for a walk in Shinjuku Gyoen. You should do that, too, if you can spare an hour or so.
It is a great, calming place to have a break in this busy city. When you are there, try imaging the Taisho Period and what the Shinjuku Gyoen, once-a-shogun-and-an-imperial-property, was like at that time. Take your time and enjoy a time trip back to the period of Taisho Roman and matcha paradise in quieter Shinjuku.