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Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.

But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.

The Nanja Monja Café is located in Yokohama’s Mitsuzawa suburb. Being the closest (and at the time hungriest) member of the RocketNews24 team, I decided to check the place out.

There’s one thing I had to do first, though, and that’s consult the weather report. Since it’s built in the boughs of a tree, with almost all of its seating outside, the café shuts down if its rainy. Thankfully, the forecast called for partly cloudy skies, so Operation Eat Lunch in a Tree was a go.

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The closest station is Mitsuzawa Shimocho on the Yokohama Subway Blue Line, but if you’re coming from certain parts of Tokyo or Kawasaki, you can save yourself a transfer by getting off at Tammachi Station on the Toyoko Line and making the walk from there, which takes about 20-minutes.

▼ Kind of a long stroll, but hey, maybe you’ll meet your soulmate along the way.

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As I headed up into the hills, I started seeing fewer and fewer people. That is, until I actually arrived at the café.

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Being built in a tree means there’s only space for about a half-dozen tables at Nanja Monja café, and if you go on a Saturday, you can expect a line. On the plus side, all that standing around does give you a chance to admire the exterior design.

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With birds chirping and sunlight filtering down, it’s evocative of either a Disney or Ghibli movie, depending on where your cinematic passions lie.

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Still, it’s probably a good idea to bring a book, fully-charged smartphone, or companion who’s a good conversationalist, since the wait for a seat was well over an hour.

▼ Luckily, at one point this dog came by and provided a few moments of excitement.

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Finally, a spot opened up, and the waitress beckoned me to the top of the narrow but sturdy flight of stairs.

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Before grabbing a seat, customers head inside the treehouse and place their order at the counter. There’s a pretty limited menu, consisting of nothing but bagels. On Saturdays, Nanja Monja cooks up just 30 French toast bagels, which were all sold out by the time I got in, but they still had all of their other 350-yen (US $3.20) varieties, such as spinach bacon, raspberry sweet bean jam with cream cheese, pumpkin cream cheese, and orange peel chocolate available.

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There are a couple of tables inside, but the real draw are the outdoor seats, where you can enjoy the breeze while gazing out at the surrounding greenery, hills, and rooftops.

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At one point, a group of neighborhood kids walked by underneath, waving up at everyone seated in the café. The atmosphere is extremely relaxing, even if the floor does shake just a little bit every now and again.

▼ After all, the restaurant is in a tree, and a tree is in the restaurant.

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The upside to the small menu is that your order comes out pretty quickly. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t really have the happiest relationship with bagels, and most of the time I’d rather eat a sandwich or donut instead. Nanja Monja’s bagels are a legitimately tasty class unto themselves, though, moist and flavorful through every bite.

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This may not look like a lot of filling, but the gooey chocolate and tangy orange peel deliver a solid punch to the taste buds.

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Things were a bit denser inside the raspberry sweet bean jam bagel.

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▼ Like we learned when making green tea rice cooker pancakes, sweet beans make everything better.

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As a café, Nanja Monja also serves coffee and tea, plus thick, frothy banana juice for 600 yen ($5.49).

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▼ Looks good, tastes even better

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And if hanging out in a treehouse is making you feel just a little too close to your inner child, you can reaffirm your adulthood with a 700-yen bottle of Kirin Heartland Beer.

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As tasty a brew as it is, though, Nanja Monja probably isn’t the best location for heavy boozing, given the long way down should you drunkenly tumble over a railing. What it is, on the other hand, is an extremely unique and unquestionably memorable place to sit back and have a snack with your friends, date, kids, or pet bird.

▼ Seriously

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Café information
Nanja Monja Café /なんじゃもんじゃカフェ
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ku, Mitsuzawa Higashicho, 5-55
Open noon-5:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Photos: RocketNews24