before and after: cafe musashi in Ginza

The back streets of Ginza are an urban planner’s nightmare come to life. Streets lead to dead ends and there are no patterns or, for that matter, any coherent design at all. But there is charm to be found, especially behind the Kabuki Theater where hardly-beaten paths are dotted with small cafes, galleries and lunch spots. Along one of these streets in Higashi-Ginza was Café Stand Musashi, a long-standing coffee and lunch spot frequented by office workers nearby.

But it’s building, which once was a printing company, was wearing down and drastically needed a facelift. So in late 2012 the café closed up and their building was torn down. It’s now been replaced and the café has reopened as Cafe634 (which still is pronounced as Café Musashi thanks to Japanese mnemonic wordplay known as goroawase).

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Photos by Takahiko Fuse

Their name isn’t the only thing that’s snazzier. Thanks to architect Fuminori Maemi, the new space, with its greyscale look, is both modern and inviting. Inside, the sleek, minimal interior extends deep into the space where the counter lures in visitors. But it’s not until you climb the stairs that the real gem presents itself – sprawling 18ft ceilings that offer a rare sense of openness within the cellular structure of Tokyo.

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