The stationery café in Shibuya, Tokyo is one of the best lesser known themed cafes to visit in Japan. If you would like to visit a less touristy themed cafe during your stay in Tokyo and you like doodling, consider visiting Cafe Bunbougu. Tokyo is famous for its strange, weird and wacky cafes. You must visit at least one themed café during your stay in the Japanese capital.
From the crazy Kawaii Monster café and the Peter Rabbit café to the Robot restaurant and Prison cafe. There are an abundance of themed cafés in Tokyo. We debated which themed cafe we wanted to visit during our limited time in Tokyo. We knew we did not want to visit an animal café. We believe animal cafes are unethical, especially ones like the Owl Café where being awake in daylight damages the owl’s eyes. Many of the famous themed cafes needed to be booked in advance due to their popularity. Therefore, we did not want to visit an animal themed café or a famous themed café. We wanted to visit a slightly less touristy and lesser known themed café. Eventually we decided to visit a relatively unknown themed café close to Harajuku. The themed café that we visited in Tokyo was the stationery café known as Bunbougu.
Bunbougu is not well known amongst tourists and tends to mainly attract locals. Even the entrance is very low key so you could walk straight past it. One would expect the stationery café to have a colourful exterior. Yet its simply black exterior only holds one clue as to what lies as the bottom of the flight of stairs. A pencil can be spotted on the logo. This is the entrance to the stationery café.
Bunbougu (文房具) is actually the Japanese word for stationery. We walked down the stairs next to beautiful sketches which were attached to the wall. At the bottom of the stairs was a bijou stationery shop on the left and the cafe lay the right.
There is no service charge at this restaurant unlike at some of the other themed cafes. You order your drinks, take a seat and get sketching! Your placemat becomes your sketch pad and you can choose from a wide array of drawing materials.
We ordered a black coffee and made ourselves comfortable.
I could have sat there for hours. Bunbougu café had such a lovely relaxing vibe. Everyone was drawing in the soft lighting whilst listening to instrumental guitar music and sipping their drinks.
I went over to the drawing supplies and gasped at the huge range. The café supplies every possible colour of pen and pencil. It seemed to me as if every colour under the rainbow could be found in this little café.
Not only could pens and pencils be found but there were also stamps to use.
Once I had collected a few drawing utensils I sat back down and tried to decide what to draw. Staring at my blank canvas I wanted to fill it with doodles and colours. As we were living in China at the time, I tried to write my name in Chinese. Once I had written it in Chinese, I then wrote Anna in Japanese.
Now I had practised writing characters I wanted to draw an image. I debated drawing Pikachu as we were going to the Pikachu outbreak festival the following day. Or I could have drawn the outline of Japan. In the end though, I knew what I wanted to draw. Feeling that my doodles on this placemat needed to represent our travels in Asia I continued to draw what I felt was one of Japan’s most iconic symbols. I wanted to draw a torii gate.
We had seen many torii gates during our 14-day trip around Japan. A torii is a traditional Japanese gate which symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred. On the way to see Otagi Nenbutsi Ji we saw a beautiful torii gate in the sunshine. Whilst we were in Kyoto we saw the famous Fushimi inari torii shrines as well as a huge one we went under whilst sitting on a bus.
As I happily drew my torii gate, Alex was enjoying looking through the little sketchbooks. So many visitors had been to this café before us and left little doodles to be admired. Short messages were also in the notepads. Alex decided that rather than doodling he would unleash his inner math geek. He began to write math puzzles in the notebooks. I wonder what the next person who picks up the notebook will think when they see Alex’s mathematical equations.
If you happen to live in Tokyo and would like to become a member at the Bunburgo cafe, you can sign up for a one off 700-yen fee and you are given a key. This key enables you to access the secret drawers under the table which hold exclusive stationery.
I am not sure how long we sat there and doodled. Yet we must have overstayed our welcome as a waitress came over and said we had to order another drink. We said we didn’t want one and she began to get angry. It was almost £4 for a standard black filter coffee, a big one admittedly. Yet we didn’t really want to stay much longer. Therefore, we packed up our bags and started to apologise. She seemed angry and said we had to buy another drink, but we continued packing up whilst apologising and gave her the money for the coffee. We truly were in our own worlds just doodling away!
I am quite happy we left then though as we probably wouldn’t have seen as much of Tokyo if we had just sat drawing all day! It was a lovely café and it was really nice to just stop and relax after our hectic travelling schedule. We enjoyed escaping the rain outside, given the fact our visit was during the typhoon season, and enjoyed taking shelter in such a cosy place.
If we had had more space in our bags, I would have looked more closely at the nice shop from which you could purchase stationery from.
The magnificent drawings on the wall were also a pleasure to look at. As we are both fans of Japanese anime, we were pleased we could experience this part of Japanese culture.
I would most definitely recommend the stationery café as a themed café you should visit whilst in Tokyo. Just make sure you do not overstay your welcome like we did! Unleash your inner creativity and enjoyed doodling.
Would you like to visit Bunbourgu stationery café?
Would you like to visit the Bunbourgu stationery café? Or would you prefer to visit one of the more famous themed cafes in Tokyo? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Also feel free to recommend any other lesser known themed cafes in Japan!