A while back I went to check out the Balthus exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno. This exhibit was a little different from what I usually like to go see (the ornate girly stuff). I didn’t really know much about the guy before so I thought I’d go see something new.
So Balthus was like an old school 20th century perv who pined for the days when dudes could creep on young girls in peace. He often painted girls chilling on a sofa, sleeping or staring off into space, with their skirts innocently displaying their underwear and would title them “the good old days” and stuff like that. Skill-wise, it didn’t seem like he was super masterful, more like edgy and controversial so of course a hit with other pervs around the world. Of course Japan loves him and he loved Japan since they share common interests *cough* He also liked cats and would insert really awkward looking ones into his paintings so that scored extra points with me.
Look at this crazy cat wuttt
Creepy awkward cat
I’m not going to post pics of his more not safe for work paintings – feel free to google them!
After the exhibit we looked for a nearby cafe. I have a deep love for Showa era crusty Tokyo cafes, so I always try to look for one when I’m in older areas of the city like Ueno. After a little googling, we found out about Kojou (古城), which means castle. It’s like a European castle inside (from the Japanese perspective of course), and a great example of what is called “Showa gorgeous” decor. The Showa era was Japan’s big boom period, and although technically longer, refers to the golden years of the 1950s-80s. Japan had tons of money to burn in those days and it shows in the OTT decor of the period. Some might call it tacky, but I think it’s awesome and charming!
After a bit of searching we found it~
Classy neon signage
The entrance – the cafe is in the basement.
The one thing I really hate about these places is that most of the time smoking is allowed inside. Sometimes they have non-smoking sections or air filters to help a little with the smell, but usually it’s a really baked-in, 40 years of smoke type of situation.
You can almost smell the smoke in these pics. Look at these crusty chairs, haha!
There’s a stage on one side with some crazy stained glass behind it!
They had an old Electone there on the stage. I was hoping someone would play it while we were there but it didn’t happen 😦 It might not even work anymore since I believe this model is from 1972!
They had a typical kissaten/coffee shop menu. I ordered hot cocoa~
Izzy ordered a ミルクセーキ (technically “milkshake” but these tend to be more like eggy pudding flavored milk without the thickness).
We also shared a ham sandwich
My cocoa was really good! Nothing else was super remarkable, but you don’t go to this place for the food, it’s more about the interesting atmosphere and taking a break from the Tokyo crowds.
Thank you for reading!