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“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” Those oft-quoted words by the romantic poet John Keats resonate here in Japan no less than in his native England. Now, two centuries after being penned, they are the inspiration for a splendid little cafe-restaurant in one of Tokyo’s lesser-trod neighborhoods.

The name, Keats House, gives the wrong idea, at least to European ears. You expect a genteel, aristocratic residence with a fusty academic air; what you find is a handsome old Japanese building transformed into a lively modern space where you can shop and browse, sit and relax, or settle in for simple meals of wholesome home-cooked food.

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