Tea with John and Yoko: A Brief History of Café Kinohana

Tea time | © NajukusnijiRecepti/Pixabay
Tea time | © NajukusnijiRecepti/Pixabay
Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer2 June 2017

One day in 1979, a former Beatle happened to stroll into the Flor de Café Kinohana in Ginza, Tokyo. It was a chance encounter that changed the place forever.

Flor de Café Kinohana opened its doors on August 1, 1979. It was a classy café in Ginza, close to the Kabuki-za theater, but there wasn’t anything particularly special about the place. But the humble café got a lucky break when just four days after opening, John Lennon and Yoko Ono walked in, looking for a place to kill time before going to watch a movie with their son, Sean. John ordered a Colombian coffee, while Yoko opted for a Darjeeling tea. To this day, those are two of the most popular drinks on the menu.

These days, the café may be proud of its associations with the noble duo, but it doesn’t simply ride on the coattails of this chance celebrity encounter. They serve high-quality beans, ground to order, and healthy vegetarian lunchtime options.

Nevertheless, the couple did make an impression. The owner framed their signatures and placed them near the door, and many Beatles fans make a pilgrimage to this place when in Tokyo. Each year, the café hosts a modest tribute, playing the Beatles’ and John’s songs on December 8, the anniversary of his death in 1980 – just one year after his fateful visit to little old Flor de Café Kinohana.

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