In Tokyo, you can find ANYTHING.
Maid cafes in Akihabara are well known, but there’s more than just that.
I’ve been to a Japanese pub in Shibuya that had an evil prison/hospital theme to it where they serve alcoholic shots in (plastic!) syringes. I’ve also been to a place in Ikebukuro where you can pet all the cats you want for a few hundred yen. Allergic to cats? Then how about a reptile cafe? Rabbit cafe? If animals are out of the question, then relax at Tokyo’s only hammock cafe in Kichijoji. Or if you’re looking for fresh sushi, theres’s a cafe where you can catch your own fish beforehand and then have it served to you later. If you want to dive into Japan’s geek scene, then try the Gundam Cafe or AKB48 Cafe, both in Akihabara, of course.
Whatever hobby or interest you have, most likely there’s a themed SOMETHING that both hardcore and casual fans could dive into.
So this had me thinking, there MUST be something railway-related in Tokyo. And low and behold, there are SEVERAL. But today, we’ll just look at one.
Cafe and Bar STEAM LOCOMOTIVE (カフェ＆バースチームロコモティブ) is located mere minutes from JR Yurakucho Station off the Yamanote Line.
Located on the first floor of the New Yurakucho Building, it was a bit difficult to find at first as it’s neighbors are all woman’s clothing shops…which made me wonder if I was in the right place to begin with. But as soon as you see the large steam train logo, you know you’ve found it.
As you walk in, there’s a rather large assortment of railway-related stationary such as pencils, stickers, keychains, file holders, and so on. What caught my eye were these:
Knowing my feet were already 15cm too long for these to fit, it would still be a good purchase for those looking for a unique gift.
As for the cafe, in the middle is a large model train diorama, complete with a miniaturized version of Yurakucho station itself.
I’ve seen model trains dioramas before, but I think this was the first time where I was able to stick my nose as close to the rails as I could get. The amount of detail put into this set almost makes you wish you could shrink yourself and wander the parks and streets scattered throughout.
When I went to the railway museum in Omiya, children easily outnumbered adults 2 to 1, so I was expecting a loud, busy atmosphere at the cafe. Maybe we went during the off-peak time (not sure if there’s even a peak time), but more adults seemed to be lost in thought as they watched the miniature trains made their rounds around the miniature track.
It being a cafe, I had to remind myself to order something, even though I just came from dinner. The menu doesn’t scream ”WOW!” or anything, but it also doesn’t fit into the category of being a gimmicky kind of place where the quality of the food takes the backseat.
Going from top to bottom, you have it’s signature SL Salisbury Steak Platter, the Children’s set which comes in the shape of a shinkansen,Carbonara spagahetti, Margarita pizza, hashed beef stew(?), beef curry, and the daily special. On the back of the menu, which I forgot to take a picture of, has a list of its desserts and drinks.
I got the churros with vanilla ice cream because, honestly, where else are you gonna find churros outside of Disneyland??
I found this cafe to be a bit more relaxing than I initially thought, but I couldn’t help thinking of some ideas that could make the place even better.
For example, on one side of the diorama, tables and seats are right along the track…and the seats are positioned in a way where it doesn’t matter which side you sit on, you’ll have a decent view of the ”action.” On the other side, however, the tables are placed along the wall, and are turned in a way where half of the seating forces customers to have their back to the diorama. It almost begs the question, ”Well, what’s the point?”
Also, it’s a bit brighter than it should be. Most of the buildings and set pieces around the diorama have lighting, which really showcases the smaller bits of it all. The overhead lighting, unfortunately, drowns some of it out and misses the opportunity to create a night scene for the diorama.
Not major issues, but small suggestions. There are other train cafes in Tokyo,Nagoya, and Kyoto which I plan to eventually hit one of these days. Let’s see how those compare!
Ahh…to live in the big city. Someday, maybe?
Cafe and Bar STEAM LOCOMOTIVE is open all year long, except on January 1st. Open from 11am-11pm on weekdays, 11am-10pm on Saturdays, and 11am-8pm on Sundays.
Official Website (Japanese) – Includes detailed directions, hours of operation and a few other related links.