Craig Mod walked 1,000km across Japan in search of an institution: the Kissaten (lit. “tea-drinking shops”). These are cafés famous for their “morning service” of coffee, toast, and eggs, and for the true object of Mod’s obsession: pizza toast, which is exactly what you’d expect from the name.
These kissa are wonderful places of human connection:
“Canadian Coffee House was only open until noon on Sundays, and it was already 1:30 p.m. The other customers had long since left. It was just Sakai and me chatting away. I apologized for keeping him open longer than expected, and he looked at me like I was nuts. It was his pleasure. This was what kissa were for — community, connection, conversation, strange encounters.”
…but they’re also dying out, victims of Japan’s aging population, flight to the cities, and general cultural shifts. Mod’s journey is a fitting elegy.