A traditionally working-class neighborhood in Tokyo that rose from the ashes to become one of the city's favorite retreats lies a stone's throw east of the Sumida River across from Nihombashi.

In the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa district, where cafes and boutiques have cropped up like wild flowers over the years and coexist with the purveyors of traditional fare such as rice crackers and simmered clams, people come from near and far coaxed by the savory aroma of freshly roasted coffee.

As joggers ply the shaded paths of huge Kiba Park, which bounds the area to the east and houses the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, New Zealanders and Japanese work together to pour the morning's first cups of coffee in a former timber warehouse a block away.