“Laundry” may be an odd name for a café, but would it make more sense or make it even odder if it came equipped with washing machines? And what if, not only that, it had clothes dryers, ironing boards and even sewing machines?
That is the concept behind Kissa Laundry, a cozy little café located in the quiet residential neighborhood of Chitose across the Sumida River. It was established as a sort of community center for everyone, from local hardworkers to itinerant tourists, to offer them a place to sit back and relax.
Designed to be welcoming and comfortable, the café has a very homey vibe, housed in the renovated sixty-year-old building of a closed mitten factory. It’s furnished with retro tables and chairs collected from old cafés across Tokyo and beyond, their woody warmth contrasting the gray walls and ceiling showing bare concrete.
Kissa Laundry proved to be a success. Nowadays, the café draws everyone from busy mothers to dog-owners to remote-workers taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Flea markets featuring handmade jewelry, secondhand books, and vinyl records occur from time to time.
The menu is just what you would expect from a Japanese café, plus some. In addition to AeroPressed coffee, apple juice for children, curry rice, tuna melts, and a selection of cakes, customers will find hot yuzu tea and four kinds of craft beers. And, of course, options for wash & dry. For 1,000 yen, you can either wash-and-dry your clothes and get a drink, or ask the staff to take care of your laundry and pick it up three hours later.
This unusual style of café may not have revolutionized the industry, but it has succeeded in causing a faint ripple to spread across Japan. Now there are two branches in Kanagawa, in addition to multiple sister locations of different names and concepts throughout the country, each giving a new life to an old building and serving the interest of its community.
Know Before You Go
The café's operating hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Fridays, when it is open until 10:30 p.m.