Thank goodness for Shinya Sakurai. In the year since he opened his elegant boutique-plus-tearoom in the backstreets of Nishi-Azabu, it has become one of the city’s great resources for all things ocha (tea). Its official name is Souen, but it is the English subtitle — Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience — that best describes the owner’s labor of love. Browse the shop, examine the tea paraphernalia, sniff and sample before making your purchase. Then make your way through to the back, install yourself at one of the low counter seats and watch Sakurai at work, expertly whisking sharply bitter powdered matcha, carefully steeping some delicate leaf tea, or infusing aromatic hōjicha (roasted tea).
In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.