maruyama-cho's best kept secret

lion main 1 lion main 2 lion main 3 lion main 4 lion main 5 lion main 6 lion main 7 lion main 8

maruyama-cho might be one of the districts of shibuya that's infamous for its hub of love hotels & stuff, but there's an enchanting best kept secret there, established more than 80 years ago, which will surprise you big time. originally built in 1923 & then rebuilt to the same design in 1950 after being bombed in the second world war, this is the LION cafe. with two levels of pew-style rows seating, all facing towards the huge wooden speaker system, this place was created for people to come in to spend some quality "me-time". back in the days when japan was not rich, folks shared tiny apartments with almost no private space. so they would go to cafes like this to seek some alone time where they could just read, drink, chains-smoke & listen to classical music. under a glorious chandelier, customers sit in silence in front of some big ass speakers & a ginormous collection of vinyl + cds. those diligent whispering servers would come bring you drinks & ashtray, as well as "dj-ing" & introducing what the number is. while conversations are discouraged, the church-like air is made for a perfect afternoon nap. i'm telling you people, this place is calming, magical, & therapeutic. the music & the ambience will transport you back in time