A Taste of Waseda: Inside the Uni-125 Cafe

A Taste of Waseda: Inside the Uni-125 Cafe

Fuad Olajuwon

When asking tourists who visit Japan what they would like to see and experience, how often do such individuals mention going to a university? Outside of potential international students and professors, even a university as prestigious as Waseda is not mentioned to in foreign tourist circles. Well, with the Uni-125 Cafe right at the heart of campus, one could get a glimpse at university culture in Japan while imbibing on local delights that leave many in the community coming back for more.

Nestled in the heart of Takadanobaba, Waseda University is one of the premier learning institutions in Japan. Attracting countless numbers of students from all over the globe, the university has a little bit of something for everyone. Despite the high level of diversity on campus, one place where students, alumni, and locals congregate is the Uni-125 Cafe.

Built in early 2002, the cafe remains just as popular as the day it first opened. Burrowed under a blanket of lush foliage, it’s easy to miss if you’re not paying much attention.

Inside of the cafe is just as magnificent as the surrounding gardens, invoking a feeling of comfort and belonging. During the day, the large windows provide most of the lighting, yearning to capture the natural essence of the nearby vegetation. The warm glow of the sunlight, matched with the aroma of freshly baked goods creates a lasting impression one will remember for years to come. The main entrance holds the gift shop, where you can buy various odds and ends to scratch the Waseda itch. Walk past the store, and you will see the cafe in front of you.

Waseda University store

One of the signature highlights of the cuisine is the various array of dishes served throughout the year. The set meals change on a weekly basis, so you’ll always have a new culinary experience. Baked goods are made fresh throughout the day, gracing the cafe with a constant scent of delectable treats. Various flavors of ice cream are an excellent reprieve from the outside elements, satiating the inner sweet tooth in all of us. Language imparities are not a problem, as many international students work there. So feel free to ask for any recommendations to get you started on the right foot.

Depending on the day, the cafe offers an assortment of different meals to satisfy the curious and the hungry. This time, Uni-125 offered a set of flaky bagel sandwiches that melt in your mouth with each bite. With several options to choose from, you wouldn’t go wrong no matter the decision.

Talking with one of the staff members, she mentions alumni often come back to the cafe. The establishment holds a special place in the hearts of many who traversed through Waseda walls, a reminder of times when they were young and had their whole lives ahead of them. Imbibing on the homemade cookery is one way to rekindle that nostalgia. “It’s amazing how much people care about this place,” she replies, enthusiastically. “Moments like these are the reason why I chose to come to Waseda!”

Whether you’re a member of the famous university, a former graduate or a tourist looking to explore an area less traveled, the Uni-125 Cafe is sure to liven up your overall experience.

View from Waseda Uni. Cafe 125