Egon Schiele and Kissa-ten

I went to see an exhibit of Egon Schiele, the collection from Leopold Museum in Ueno, Tokyo. Schiele is my favorite painter especially when I was in early twenties while I was studying illustration in collage. It was my first time seeing a retrospective of Schiele and brought back old memories. Back then,I really loved the way he constructed the images, how he played around with spaces. I also studied the way he drew the peoples, the abstract, distorted figures, the faces and the way he drew fingers..

I’ve seen his painting once, only one painting, long, long time ago so therefore I can say that this is my first time to see Schiele’s work. I didn’t expect much but ended up being blown away by his “raw” paintings. All the stuff you can never capture in printed images. The color of the flesh was so transparent, like you can feel the veins under the skin. The intricate brush marks and his massive influence from oriental art was also very intresting.



We decided to have a late lunch in the area and my husband selected a local “Kissa-ten”. Kissa-ten is a Japanese old school cafe. We are in the Ueno area in Tokyo and Ueno is an old city with lots of old establishments. Kissa-ten served Japanize western foods like coffee, tea, sandwiches, pasta and desserts.

Kissa-ten became popular when the western culture was introduced to Japan, became a trend setting place for the young and curious ( a artist used to hang around therefore a lot of underground culture are born), then turned into a place for young couple for dating, and when I was a kid, Kissa-ten were places where business man hangout for meetings with clients, the whole places was filled with cigarette smokes and eventually, it became unpopular among the young generation. (french style cafe came into the scene and ofcourse the invasion of Starbucks…this really killed a lot of unique Kissa-tens.) Now, Kissa-ten are becoming popular among the young generations. Actually the day we went to this place, we were the oldest in the crowds which was mainly around teens to mid 20’s !!

One of the reason Kissa-ten are gaining back its popularity is that a lot of places had become non-smoking. Therefore not so much business man and makes it easier for the young people to come in. The interiors are usually never renovated and the classic old school ambiance feels so new to the young and the most important, the classic food menu seems to grab young generation’s attention.

Kissa-ten was in it’s peek during the late Showa-era (1926~1989) . My first 20yrs in Japan was Showa, so I did experience the good old days of Japan and everything Showa is popular here in Japan now. The “City Pop” (the Japanese pop music in ’70~’80) are also in Showa and that had become a world wide trend…

OK, back to the Kissa-ten. The place we went is call [Coffee Oojou], Oojou simply translated as “Grand castle”…classic already right? LOL Oojou is established in 1975 (yes when these kind of establishments are becoming popular). They are famous for coffee and foods. We ordered coffee, Keema curry, meat sauce spaghetti and a chocolate parfait to share. Kissa-ten usually serves Japanese style curry rice so, serving Keema curry is very unique. It’s a Japanese interpretation of Keema curry but it was spicy and good. Spaghetti is popular Kissa ten menu. Don’t expect the Italian version and don’t be surprise that the pasta are not al dente!! Meat sauce and Napolitan are the two staple menu in Kissa ten and is a must if you want to taste the Showa. You will be surprised that it actually taste good. And last of all, every Kissa ten have their interpretation of parfait and Oojou’s was a huge mounds of whipped cream which everybody was posting on SNS. We had such a fun lunch, will make more visit to Kissa ten in near future for sure.




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