Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 4-28-8 2F
Hours: 13:00 to 20:00 daily, closed every other Tuesday
Walking away from JR Harajuku Station towards Omotesando, turn left on the second street after the large Meijingu-Mae crossing. It’s just a short walk, five minutes or so, down that small street on the left.
The Jazz Union Café is truly an oasis in the heart of Harajuku. This cozy jazz cafe is an ideal space for healing mind and soul. The flurry of shopping and fashion outside disappears as you sink into the chairs and wrap yourself in great jazz.
The owner, Doctor Kuwasaki, is a big jazz fan. He opened the cafe on top of his Harajuku Mental Clinic in collaboration with Disk Union, one of the biggest record chains in Japan. Every other month, Disk Union brings around 600 new CDs and LP records, from classic jazz to new releases, to be played in the Café. The turnover means there will always be something new, and something old, to hear.
Anyone can request the music you want listen to from their selection, which contains in total around 800 recordings. The state-of-the-art sound equipment is composed of custom-made JBL speakers and custom-made pre-amp, run through McIntosh vacuum tube amplifiers. A small red upright piano fills one corner, and is played at the two monthly live shows. That’s about it for decoration, but that’s really all that’s needed, since the café is about listening, not looking around.
The menu offers a select variety of coffees and teas. There is no alcohol or food, but you can bring in your favorite snack. There is free wi-fi. This is a wonderful café devoted to hearing jazz in perfect conditions.