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Ben’s Cafe: Takadanobaba Landmark Closes

July 4, 2011

Takada…no….what?  Say it slowly and I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it, Taka-da-no-ba-ba.  Easy enough? Right? Oh, the a sound is more like /ah/. So really it’s, Tah-kah-dah-no-bah-bah. Say that quickly a few times and will be ready for any tongue twister contest.

When I first arrived in Tokyo I kept hearing about this cool little enclave called, Takadanobaba. I actually read about it in an old edition of Time Out Tokyo that I bought for 150 yen (1.75 U.S. dollars).  I saw a place listed called, Ben’s Cafe, they had free wireless and the staff spoke some English. I soon found out the the staff in question was Yoshiko.

Through chance, luck, or no choice of Yoshiko became the owner of Ben’s Cafe.  Yoshiko is one of those spunky older/sister types who loves to make you feel at home. She would always welcome you with open arms, a smile and a laugh. When I met Yoshiko she was taking film and writing classes.  She could also be found exploring the theater community in Tokyo.  She is definitely an inspiration.

As a cafe, Ben’s had a way of connecting people over conversation, wonderful coffee and sinful desserts.  On my first visit to Ben’s I met one of my good friends here in Tokyo, Sheila . We met drooling over the dessert tray. Where else could you get homemade brownies, sweet potato pie, chocolate cheesecake, and dee-lish-us carrot cake with cream cheese icing?  Yum! Sheila and I are still good friends and we both met up again to say farewell to Ben’s and good luck to Yoshiko on the next chapter of her life.

I also met another great Tokyo friend named Kimi.  We were walking up to support our friend Greg who was hosting an LGBT meeting. Turned out there were only three LGBT people there. The rest of us were supporters of Greg. Kimi is gone now, but without Ben’s I would have never met a great afternoon sake partner.

Ben’s Cafe maybe gone, but the energy that Yoshiko blessed it with will never be forgotten!

Enjoy your new travels Yoshiko!  See you soon!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Yoshiko Toyama permalink
    October 29, 2011 2:51 AM

    THANK YOU sooooo much, Michaela, for such a nice words…

    • Michaela Chatman permalink*
      October 29, 2011 6:36 AM

      I have to say the same for you! Thank you for your sharing your spirit!

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