For the last 4 years. I’ve worked out of maybe a hundred cafes and co-working spaces all over Tokyo. Here’s a regularly updated list of my favorite remote work cafes and co-working spaces.
My current favorite place to work. I discovered it when my friend’s wedding was at the hotel. It has a classy, low-light lounge vibe, and there are work desks and leather couches everywhere. There’s a gorgeous outdoor area too, where you can bring in food from anywhere to eat. Tip: the coffee at the Trunk Bar is hand-drip, but expensive (550yen). Go around to the Trunk Store at the outdoor area for cheaper coffee (200yen). Trunk Hotel opens early and closes late.
Work while being surrounded by dinosaurs, desert plants, science tools, and art. Located on the 7th floor of the Tokyu Hand’s in Shibuya, Hand’s Cafe is one of the most creative cafes I’ve ever found in Japan. When I’m tired of working, I love walking around the floor, looking at the exotic plant shop outside, and playing with their science toys. There’s even a pet shop one floor down, where the cutest hamsters and birds will relieve your stress. As you can see in the picture, there are several Mac desktops here that are free for anyone to use. The electric outlets are a bit hidden, but if you find them, you can use them. The employees don’t care. Also, definitely try the curry rice here.
Living Room Cafe
Living Room Cafe has music shows going on during the night and weekends, but on weekdays from 11am-5pm, they are very remote worker friendly. The time window to work here is pretty short, and the prices for coffee are a bit high, but it’s such a well-furnished and artistic place that it makes it worth going there. Food here is quite good, too.
Nakameguro / Ebisu
TimeOut Tokyo Cafe
TimeOut Tokyo Cafe is a cafe inside of TimeOut’s music event venue in Ebisu. That’s why it’s no surprise that the best part about this cafe, is the alternative jazz and relaxing bass house music playing from their huge subwoofers. The people hanging around here are usually artistic or music-related, too. It’s never that crowded, and the staff will help you find an available electric outlet so don’t be afraid to ask for a seat that has one. Three bad parts: 1) the wifi kicks you out after every hour, and occasionally hard to sign on 2) Randomly closed on somedays due to day-time music event. 3) Smoking is allowed through-out the place.
Anjin (inside Tsutaya Daikanyama)
*Caution: no free wifi here. I just really like it.
Anjin is a classy lounge in the middle building of Tsutaya in Daikanyama. The Tsutaya building itself is so beautiful that it’s worth the trip here. For all the nightowls out there, this place is open until 2am. If you want to charge your computer, make sure to get a counter seat and ask for the electric outlet box.
It’s on the pricier side, with coffee around 900yen. If you go there and its too crowded, there’s a Starbucks right below, with decent seating, but no plugs.
Nagatacho / Akasaka mitsuke
Oh my Jesus. Yahoo Lodge is my favorite co-working space in Tokyo. The fact that it’s free (at least for now), makes it even better. The space is on the 18th floor of the Yahoo Japan building. The view from here is magnificent, especially during sunset. There’s free conference rooms, white boards, extension cords, and books that are welcome to be used by anyone. During lunch time on weekdays, there’s a buffet area where you get anything you want and pay by the weight. Yahoo Lodge is a very social environment too, where talking to each other and to Yahoo Japan employees is encouraged. It also has interesting events going on almost every day. The entrance area on the 2F also has multiple delicious restaurants as well. If you want to get some exercise I recommend going out of the building and to the near by bridge, where there’s a shop to rent a row boat for the pond below. Also, I highly recommend going up the escalator to the 4th floor of the building. Trust me, just do it.
*Currently you can get a one-day-free pass and just get one again every time you want to use the place. They may start charging past Nov 2017.
Nagatacho GRID is a co-working space / event hall that’s 2 minute walk from Yahoo Lodge. There’s a paid co-working area on the 5th floor, but people can also come work for free on the Basement floor, 6F, and Rooftop. There’s even free coffee on weekdays on 6F. It’s nice to hop floor and find new creative areas to work in, to change the pace. There’s a lunch place on the first floor which they let people work out of as well. I also highly recommend the gourmet doughnut shop around the corner on the first floor.
Starbucks (Roppongi hills)
I usually don’t recommend people to go to Starbucks to work. It’s not some hipster-hangup of mine; I actually like their coffee and the liquified cakes they call frappuccinos. It’s that Starbucks is everyone’s go-to workspace, and hence, it’s almost always crowded. That being said, you’re sometimes in Roppongi during the day, and you’ve got to work somewhere, and the Roppongi Hills Starbucks is my default choice. They recently added an entire basement area as shown in the picture, which has made it relatively uncrowded. It’s also nice that when you want to get some exercise, the Roppongi Hills mall is right above you.
Mercedes me Tokyo: DOWNSTAIRS COFFEE
Mercedes me Tokyo’s DOWNSTAIRS COFFEE is a new (and welcome) addition to workable space option in Roppongi for me. A fancy, highbrow, minimal environment. Big windows looking over the Midtown area street. Cool cars walk around and look at when you’ve been sitting down too long. If you want to meet friends or clients for lunch, the second floor is a restaurant (also run by Mercedes) called Upstairs, and the prices are pretty reasonable, considering the area.
Deus Ex Machina
Every floor of Deus Ex Machina is exactly how I’d want my company’s office to be like. It’s designed well, but minimal. It’s right on the street. There’s multiple small rooms in which you can work / drink your coffee.
I’d recommend the basement area to work from. Also, don’t go home without trying their sandwiches, too.
I CAN’T FIND ANYWHERE GOOD IN SHINJUKU. I’VE TRIED FOR YEARS. I’VE GIVEN UP. PLEASE HELP.
(Update, found one) Brooklyn Parlor
Brooklyn Parlor, despite its name, feels like a cozy underground cabin in Alaska. Seats are comfortable, the mood lighting is calm, and they take their decor seriously. If you’re here before 3pm on a weekday and order lunch, then you can get infinite refills on your coffee or tea, which is a heck of a deal in Japan. If it get’s crowded, then they’ll kick you out after 2 hours, though. All that being said, I’ve known of this place for years, but there’s a reason I didn’t list it here. It’s because, until now, it’s always been too crowded for me to even get a seat. I’d definitely keep this a weekday option.
Coffee Valley is a tucked-away coffee shop near the center of Ikebukuro. It prides itself on coffee; it even has a tasting menu where you get to try three flavors. The best part is that it’s the calmest store to work from in Ikebukuro. The rest of Ikebukuro tends to be so commercial and dirty, but my stern distaste for Ikebukuro is for another time.
1F~2F of Toranomon Hills
Honestly, I can’t imagine why you would end up around the Toranomon Hills area. It’s in a place between Shimbashi and Roppongi, where only salarymen usually find themselves. But, if you’re in the vicinity, I strongly suggest you check out Toranomon Hills. There’s a beautiful path from 1F to 2F that wraps around the building, where there are also multiple coffee shops with desks to work on. My favorite is the section behind the FamilyMart convenience store on the 2nd floor. There you’ll find cute cafe-cubicles as well as bigger shared desks to work out of. If you don’t care about electric outlets, then there’s over 60 lounge chairs placed along the gigantic exterior windows, where you can look out into nature.
HEAR ME OUT. Despite the usual image of McDonald’s, McDonald’s in Japan are often pretty nice. They’re well-designed spaces with multiple floors, free wifi, and electric outlets. Best of all, you can utilize that space for as cheap as 100yen. When you’re at a random station on a weekend and you’re desperate, McDonald’s welcomes you with open arms. Bring earphones though, because, you know, crying babies.
I'm on Twitter @shoinwolfe if you ever want to talk.