Tree houses are the things of happy childhood memories—whether you had one or not, and if you’re feeling nostalgic, we have the perfect place for you. A ramshackle, magical, dream-like cafe perched high above the streets, Nanjya Monjya is as wonderful as you would hope it to be, and more. With a wooden staircase, mismatched chairs, a secret attic and a deck with views of Yokohama, this place will make you feel 12 again, on an adventure and not a coffee break.
The first thing you spot might be the queue, since this place only has a few tables and is obviously amazing—but don’t be dissuaded. There is no name list, so just join the line until you are called up the stairs. These are sturdy, despite how they look, but not too sturdy. The best thing about this cafe is how it still feels like it was made from found-wood and bits and pieces, over weekends and holidays in your own back garden.
You can make your way through the door to your left and order before taking a seat—your food and drinks will be brought to the table.
There are three seating areas: the outside deck, the cafe or the attic room. All three are lovely, and each has its own charm, so it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out (but you might want to come back to try the different ones!). The deck is studded with tree trunks from the cafe’s namesake and host, the Chinese fringetree, aka Nanjya Monjya. Enjoy sitting among the branches, with great views across the city—it’s lovely if there’s some sun and has blankets in case you get chilly.
The cafe inside is filled with quaint decorations and little touches that feel light and airy, but look snug and warm for winter. You can still see the views through the open doors and window panels and with a few tables for two, it avoids feeling crowded.
The attic is great for groups and feels really private, as you have to climb the tree-trunk-steps by the kitchen to the mezzanine-style deck. With cushions in place of chairs, there isn’t too much head room, but it feels just like a secret den, away from all the adults.
It’s a simple menu, but fitting. Like a nicer version of the sandwiches and snacks you would sneak up for breaks, the homemade bagels and scones fit in perfectly. With frequently changing fillings, the bagels are good for a light lunch, and can be followed with a scone if you’re still peckish. When we visited, you could choose between a chickpea curry with cheese, or a chicken and cream cheese option, but both seemed to contain meat, so vegetarians may want to be careful. The drinks menu is small, but has tea and coffee (iced or hot), orange juice, ginger ale and banana juice, as well as Kirin Heartland Beer if you want to re-live your rebel days. The bagels are 800 yen, and drinks range from 500-700 yen.
If you can face the queues on a Saturday, they do a limited serving of French toast bagels, which sell out fast, but would definitely make a lovely brunch.
Good to know
In true tree-house style, the cafe is quite open to the weather and therefore closes if it is rainy or very windy – you can check if they are open using their Twitter account (and Google translate) which will announce if they are open at about 10:30am each morning—as well as giving cute updates on the leaves in fall, etc. This is also shown via a live feed on their website.
Also, their website does warn that sometime Google maps can be misleading, so use the location provided on their website—luckily we have used theirs to make our map below, and it’s tried and tested!
The cafe is in the quiet residential area of Mitsuzawa; an area with plenty of cats, hills and winding pathways—all of which you will need to follow to find the tree house (ok the cats might not take you there, but they’re fun to follow anyway). Take the subway Blue line from Yokohama to Mitsuzawashimocho Station (only 2 minutes) and head pretty much in a straight line away from the station (exit 4) and up the hills. You may feel like your wandering into people’s driveways, but these little paths are ok, so follow your trusty map and remember to look up. There is often a queue which is an easier way to spot it, but it can be easy to miss if there isn’t!
Stay warm — and satiated — with these hearty winter Japanese foods.