Updated: Feb 15, 2021
I have been a digital nomad for years when this term was not yet invented to define people like me so I know very well the frustration of looking for a suitable place that allows us to concentrate in the shortest possible time and keep us focused for a long time avoiding counterproductive distractions. In my case, coworking spaces had not yet been invented, but even if they were, I would not have had the money to frequent them regularly. If I had had them I would probably have preferred to spend them on an apartment with an attached studio instead of the often shared, windowless 2m by 2 holes that I could afford in Southeast Asia! but fortunately times have changed now, coworking is no longer a dirty word and many cafes offer inside spaces used for this purpose. And I would like to focus on these in this article. In the common imagination, when you think of a digital nomad or a student in a foreign land forced to find an economic alternative to the office, the first word that comes to mind is Sturbucks. But will it also be the best? Personally I think not, not in Kyoto at least, not in the city center where you will probably want to move. The Starbucks in central Kyoto are often overcrowded (I’m writing this in full pandemic where overcrowding is just a memory) and many times I have been forced to wait even more than 20 minutes for a seat that often did not correspond to the ideal place to create quality content for my work or too close to bathrooms or external currents like doors that open continuously thus making me lose concentration every two minutes. Anyway but it’s free, what are you complaining about! I’m Italian, I complain regardless! We like to do it, possibly with lively gestures! It is not free! Of course you can stay there as long as you want but a drink can cost you on average 600 ¥, if you get hungry while you are concentrated, the over 1000 ¥ is just around the corner. What to do then if the place at your disposal does not have an electrical outlet nearby? Here the whole day becomes a few hours in a moment. Free Internet is not always as obvious as it is given. So here are my best alternatives to Starbucks to spend an afternoon of study or work in Kyoto:
1) Saizeriya: It is to be conceived as the macdonald`s of Italian cuisine. There are some everywhere in the city, you can always find a table and once you have ordered the drink you are not practically disturbed anymore. If you are hungry, a plate of pasta is also available for less than 400 ¥ and if you take the drinkbar with 200 ¥ you can go on until the evening of tea, coffee, sugary drinks and go! It is not cool at all but it is perhaps my favorite place.
2) Komeda`s coffe: They are pretty much everywhere. Offering a large selections of food and drinks (drink bar not available), free and quite fast internet and mostly not as crowded as starbucks. Comfortable chairs and relaxed atmosphere.
3) Kokoka International Community House: Is not really a cafe and it is not a franchise but it is something more. For my first two years in Kyoto it was my second home and when I can I always go back with great pleasure. Located relatively conveniently in Kyoto, it offers a large free parking for motorbikes and bicycles (a rarity in the city) while paying for cars. Inside you will find a large hall where you can study, work and why not make friends. Dedicated Internet and power outlets everywhere. There is a cafe on the first floor but there are also vending machines located everywhere. However, no type of consumption is necessary. On the second floor there is also a large library where you can draw on didactic material in many languages and even some computers for watching films. If you are in Kyoto to study Japanese you can find qualified teachers or volunteers for a few hundred Yen per hour. For more information click here. There is also a very good restaurant on the second floor with a very affordable lunch menu. God save the Kokoka! The Kokoka website is: https://www.kcif.or.jp/en
4) If, on the other hand, you prefer coworking as a base for your study or work stays in Kyoto click here:
Or you can always opt for the solution that wasn’t there until recently. Groliving Kyoto, a coworking, coliving, community space, roof terrace and studio apartment all included in the center of Kyoto, created by a former digital nomad for digital nomads. For more information please visit the Groliving page. Hope to see you soon!