The pitfalls of ordering coffee in Tokyo’s Old Town


Deb Campbell wins £250 and this week’s Just Back travel writing competition for her account of cultural challenge in a Tokyo cafe.

Language was no barrier to ordering coffee in Tokyo, and as we escaped to a café where the old men sat drinking and smoking, we were offered an English menu that showed an array of coffees, with the corresponding translations in beautiful Japanese calligraphy below.

We watched the elderly woman’s brow furrow as we pointed at the cappuccino and the mocha, and as she walked away, my husband laughed. “I’m not sure what we’re going to get.”

But we didn’t mind. It was quiet in here. Through the window, the street was bustling with texting teenagers dressed in kimonos,…

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