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Best Cafes to Work from in Central Tokyo

January 26, 2018

Here in Japan, the image of the hardworking, tie-and-collar, briefcase toting salaryman is still alive and well; my daily commute aboard some of Tokyo’s most notoriously crowded trains is chocked full of them (including myself I suppose.) But just as in the rest of the developed world, the place where work is getting done is changing in Nippon as well. Whether they are road-warriors taking meetings and making client visits on the go, or full-on digital nomads, “Japan Inc” has started to acknowledge the role of the mobile worker. That’s a good thing because that also means the places where mobile work can be done and the attitudes towards it are growing positively as well.

It’s always been a common sight to see workers busily toiling away on their PCs in places like Mister Donut or McDonald’s, but amenities like wifi and power outlets used to be hard to come by; it’s no wonder inventions like portable hotspots and smartphone power packs came into their own over here. Recently the tide has started to change though and at least here in Tokyo, there are many places now that are mobile-worker friendly. Here’s a few of my favorites in no particular order:

  • Starbucks – Kind of a no-brainer here, SBUX is usually the default place people start searching for whenever they want to pull an all day study/work session out in town. They’ve recently updated their internet systems and stopped the paywalling of using wifi, so you can get to work easier. Most stores have power outlets as well.
  • Pier’s Cafe – In addition to having a fresh selection of pastries and coffee, this cafe is one of an astonishingly few to offer power outlets at every seat in their shops. In addition. Of course there’s free wi-fi and nice comfy chairs, sofas, and counters to accommodate a group needing to chat or just one person getting stuff done. The bad part? There’s only eight locations around Tokyo. Pop into one if you get lucky and see it on your journeys!
  • McDonalds – the Golden Arches just updated their image in Japan to appeal more to “Heisei Babies” that prefer to hang out in coffeeshops rather than the place where they were getting Happy Sets as kids a few years ago. This works out great for everyone because they’ve updated the furnishings for those that want to sit and pop open a laptop. They also added more seats with power outlets in many stores, and made a major update to their wifi system, namely there’s no need to have a subscription anymore. Just connect, agree to the capture portal, and that’s it. Have a Big Mac and a smile.
    Mos Burger – Not to be outdone, Japan’s homegrown burger joint is adding seats with power outlets as well as free in-store wifi to entice customers to stay longer.
  • Any “Eki-Naka” cafe – Most train stations around Greater Tokyo have free wifi and therefore any of the restaurants inside their station complexes are usually flush with free wireless goodness.
  • Most shopping mall food-courts – Most Aeon, Ito-Yokado, and other mall developments also have free wifi, and this includes the food court as well.
  • Convenience stores with seating areas – Pretty much every Tokyo area conbini has you covered with wifi for free. But a few have places to sit and enjoy a cuppa or bento as well. Lots of these also provide power outlets too.

These were just a few I know of, let us know your favorite spots in the comments!

By Jason L Gatewood

Image: “Coffeeshop Office in Japan” (CC BY 2.0) by Steve Nagata

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