If you’re a freelancer, a location independent entrepreneur or you just need a space where you can concentrate and get some work done, then the Open Source Cafe in Shimokitazawa is worth a look. While not as cheap as a coffee at Starbucks, the 1,000yen for 1 day gets you a complimentary drink and a space where you can work undisturbed on whatever you like. While the emphasis and the philosophy of the cafe is centered on the geeky tech stuff, you can basically work on anything.
For the first time visitor, it does take a little bit of finding- if you’re unsure and following a map, it’s about 1 15 minute walk from the the station. Surrounding the Open Source Cafe is pure suburbia – which for getting things done, is a really good thing.
When I arrived at 10:30am on a Thursday, only the owners were there, but after lunch, there was a steady multi-national stream of visitors. In my experience, Japanese coders (and perhaps programmers in general) aren’t morning people so if you come here at 10am, you’re more than likely to get one of the better seats with plug-in monitors and nice chairs near the window.
The space is split into two – one side has the ‘shop’ where they serve refreshments and seems to be more of a communal area where you don’t have to concentrate on programming or whatever it is you went there to do. The other part consists of 10 seats which you can grab on a first in first served basis. There is also an extensive library (in Japanese) of programming and IT books. There are also a few English books in there if you dig around.
They have a couple of little specials. Usually extra drinks are 500yen, but if you ‘complete’ your task for the day, you can get it for 300yen. Also, if you bring someone else with you, they get in for 500yen, so it effectively costs you 750yen each for the day. Additionally, compared to similar places, they’re quite relaxed on coming and going – so you can pay your 1,000yen, head out for lunch and then return without having to drop another 1,000yen.