Usually the only way one can watch trains whizz past you whilst eating some food is to just sit on a platform bench eating an onigiri (rice ball) or a sandwich. However, there is a cafe in Tokyo which has taken this simple idea and made it a reality.
Most visitors to Akihabara usually hang right at the main road (known as Chuo-dori Street) having left the Electric Town exit but if you turn left and cross the Kanda-gawa River, you’ll see the remains of an old station that has been redeveloped into a cool and modern shopping area.
The former Manseibashi Station, named after the nearby bridge, actually closed down way back in November 1943 but trains still pass through it today. Our destination was inside somewhere but actually finding the entrance was quite difficult and we even thought it was closed at one stage! Thankfully we persevered though and eventually located it. On entering Platinum Fish Cafe, there were train station staff uniforms hanging up for kids to put on whilst they dine in the restaurant.
In that weird part of the year between Christmas and New Years Eve, and just a few days after we’d been to see the big buddha in Takatoriyama Park, James and I were together again, and George joined us too for our annual meet-up. One of our previous get-togethers was at a train curry restaurant so I set about searching for another train-related place and came up with this fairly unique one. I do actually remember reading about it many years ago but given the huge turnaround in businesses in Tokyo, I assumed it had probably long closed! How wrong I was!
We bypassed the indoor seating area and headed straight through to the terrace which is closest to the unused platform. Of course it is colder to sit there but if you’re going to make the effort to go to such a rare cafe location then you may as well get the true experience. Unless it’s raining of course! Flash photography is understandably forbidden as presumably that can potentially affect the vision of the train drivers.
It didn’t take too long for the trains to start going by fairly frequently as this is Tokyo after all. You can really feel the Chuo-Sobu line trains as they speed by with the highlight being the occasional time when they pass in both directions.
Beforehand I thought it might be a little noisy and disruptive but it’s really not and this special attraction allows you to see the trains up close from a fairly rare angle in the sunny glassed room.
The lunch menu is quite limited with just five dishes costing between 800 and 1000 yen each which is admittedly more than I usually pay for lunch but reasonably priced for such a restaurant. The menu choices were spicy curry, Japanese fish, pasta, a salad plate and a hamburg steak plate. Salad and soup were included too.
We all opted for different dishes and the two below are the fish and the hamburg. They were fine but nothing too special. That matters not really as you don’t come to such a cafe for the food!
That was it in terms of lunch but George had proposed taking the train to Akebonebashi for something a bit more adventurous. Leaving the cafe proved to be a lot easier than entering. If only we’d known about this way in and out on our arrival! If you can find the entrance then it is a fun place to spend an hour or two and is definitely recommended for any train enthusiasts.
- Platinum Fish Cafe is located at 1-25-4 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. It is open from 11:00 till 23:00 Monday to Friday and from 11:00 till 21:00 at weekends.
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