Cafes are usually open all through the afternoon rather than just lunch and dinnertime, and they often serve light food items as well as coffee, tea and desserts.
See Kansai cafe map
A big, sprawling, comfortable cafe under the train tracks and highway. The menu is varied and casual, and lunch is served to 3pm.
Nakazakicho-Nishi 2-55, Chelsea Market. (next to Umeda Center Building, about 5 min. E of Umeda sta.) Open 11am-midnight daily.
A funky-casual cafe with outdoor seating (heated in the winter) and three stories of dining space; the second floor is fashioned after a European brasserie, and the top floor is a popular party space. The inexpensive food menu includes pizzas and pastas, spare ribs and the ubiquitous Caesar salad.
Bakuromachi 4-4-7, BBB Bldg. 1/3F. (5 min. N of Shinsaibashi Sta.) Open 11:30am-10:30pm (LO) daily.
This is health food in an attractive cafe setting, with plenty of brown rice and soy milk. The extensive drinks list includes matcha cappucino, black sesame smoothies and plenty of Chinese teas; food ranges from brown-rice onigiri and vegetable curries to organic cakes. Weekend hours start later (10am), and there's no smoking.
Nanba 5-1-60, Nanba City 2F. (on the way to Nanba Parks) Open 7:30am-10pm daily.
Osaka: Shinsaibashi -- Link
Serious gourmet coffee from around the world, in a stylishly modern coffeehouse that wouldn't look out of place anywhere in North America. [See FULL REVIEW
Higashi-Shinsaibashi 1-13-19, NT Bldg 1F. (from Midosuji turn E on the street that runs along the north side of Daimaru; keep walking for 3 blocks until you get to Family Mart on your left hand side; at Family Mart turn left; Link is located about 10 meters north, on the right hand side) Open 9am-10pm. Closed Mondays.
A pleasant, trendy little cafe in the heart of Shinsaibashi with hip decor and a nice vibe. Unusual for Osaka, they serve an American breakfast plate from 7am-noon.
Nishi-Shinsaibashi 1-5-24, Hearton Hotel 1F. Open 7am-midnight daily.
Osaka: Umeda -- Amadeus
This bright and airy dining room offers a far more interesting menu than the typical hotel coffeeshop, with many organic and vegetarian dishes in the "Nature Cuisine" section. There's also a popular buffet lunch and Friday and Saturday evening dinner buffets.
Oyodonaka 1-1-20, Westin Hotel Osaka 1F. Open 6:30am-11pm daily.
Osaka: Umeda -- Amelie
The provincial cuisine of Bretagne (Brittany) is the specialty here, including some 40 varieties of galettes (savory buckwheat crepes). Lunch is served till 3pm, and in the evenings the bar is open till 2:30am; the regular food menu is served till 11pm. The interior is huge and spaciously laid out, and outdoor terrace seating is also available.
Dojima-Hama 1-4-27, Dojima Nakamachi Bldg. 1F. (1 min. from exit C-92 Kita-Shinchi station Dojima Chika Center) Open 11:30am-3am daily.
This hip little cafe with attached art-oriented bookstore is a relaxing place for a break from shopping in E-ma or nearby. There's a substantial, inexpensive food menu featuring quiche, stews and lasagne plus pies and cakes.
Umeda 1-12-6, E-ma B1F. Open 9am-11:30pm daily.
Osaka: Umeda 2-chome -- Al Avis
A spacious Italian-style cafe in the basement of Herbis Ent, serving panini sandwiches during the day, and wine, cocktails and light dishes after work.
Umeda-2-2-22, Herbis Plaza Ent B2F. Open 10am-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Osaka: Umeda 2-chome -- Roll Madu
Given their prime location at the underground entrance to the splashy Herbis Ent complex, Roll Madu would probably be full if they only sold coffee in styrofoam cups. Instead they offer a nice variety of desserts, including Belgian waffles and their namesake "roll cakes".
Umeda-2-2-22, Herbis Plaza Ent B2F. Open 10am-11pm daily.
Another French bistro-cafe arrives in Kyoto: this one is a branch of the excellent Tokyo-based chain, known for their authentic French style and well-prepared food. The Y1000 lunches are a good deal, and there's a full dinner menu from 6pm.
Karasuma-dori Shijo-sagaru, Suiginyacho 620 Cocon Karasuma 1F. (on W side of Karasuma-dori, just S of Shijo) Open 10am-11pm daily.
Run by the Actus furniture store, this very stylish cafe serves everything from dessert and coffee to full Tuscan dinners, with dishes like stewed rabbit. Wines range from Y2000 to Y50,000, with the median around Y3500; it's also served by the glass or carafe. Open till 1am weekends.
This converted townhouse on a quiet back street has the air of a very hip used bookstore - the comfortable chairs and tables are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books and magazines that you're welcome to browse through. The menu includes cakes and coffees and teas (like Moroccan-style chai) as well as light snacks.
Nijo Yanaginobanba. (on Nijo about 7 blocks E of Karasuma-dori) Open noon-11pm (LO) daily.
Perched in the corner of a mini-shopping complex on Sanjo, this European-style tea room offers cakes and other desserts to go with your tea. They also sell tea leaves to go.
Sanjo-dori Tominokoji-nishi-iru, Sacra Bldg 1F. (NW corner Sanjo and Tominokoji) Open 11:30am-7:30pm. Closed Wednesdays.
The air is fragrant with incense as you walk into this charming teahouse - newly built in 2003 and tastefully decked out with Kyoto-style artwork and furnishings. Besides tea and dessert you'll also find inexpensive food like noodles and simple rice dishes.
Karasuma Sanjo-nishi-iru. (N side of Sanjo 1 block W of Karasuma) Open 10am-9pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Perhaps the Bohemian epicenter of Kyoto, this student-hangout basement cafe features artfully exposed brick, peeling paint and well-worn stone floors. The 75-year-old building also houses a great experimental music record shop and contemporary art galleries. Lunches are very cheap (from Y500), and drinks include Belgian beers.
Gokomachi Sanjo, 1928 Bldg B1F. Open 11:45am-midnight daily.
Kyoto: Kyoto City Hall -- Meal Muji
Inexpensive bakery and deli items and salads from the famous no-brand design store Mujirushi.
Kawaramachi-dori Sanjo-sagaru, Yamazakicho 251 Kyoto BAL B2F. Open 11am-8pm daily.
This hip little cafe has a very comfortable atmosphere, and is plugged into the local art and underground music scene. At dinner the inexpensive menu features Mediterranean-influenced dishes like herb-grilled chicken, pork chops and risotto.
Fuyacho-dori Sanjo-agaru, Benkei-Ishicho 38-1. Open noon-midnight daily.
This lively cafe is perched in an ideal people-watching location midway up the Kitanozaka hill, with a popular outdoor sidewalk terrace that takes full advantage of the view. The menu includes everything from light snacks and sweets to full-course French dinners (from Y2500).
Yamamoto-dori 1-7-21. (1 block S of Yamamoto-dori and Kitano-zaka) Open 10am-11pm (LO) daily.
Certainly one of grandest cafe settings in town, Freundlieb occupies the former Kobe Union Church, a Kitano sightseeing landmark. The menu includes sandwiches and salads as well as fresh pastries and bread from the Freundlieb bakery downstairs.
Ikuta-machi 4-6-15. (1 block E and 1 block S of Kanocho 2-chome crossing, in the former Kobe Union Church) Open 10am-6:30pm (LO). Closed Wednesdays.
Kobe: Kyukyoryuchi -- E.H. Bank
Featured in architecture and design magazines as well as restaurant guides, this beautifully repurposed space is the former lobby of a British bank built in 1938. It's a stylish spot for an afternoon coffee or an after-dinner drink (but less inspiring for dinner).
One of the few places in town where you can find a multiplicity of Belgian beers, in a convenient location right at the foot of Ikuta Road.
Kita-Nagasa-dori 1-1-3. (at the base of the road leading up to Tokyu Hands, at the railroad tracks) Open 11:30am-11pm daily.
A rooftop oasis right in central Kobe, this cafe looks out onto a big garden area, with seating both indoors and out. The casual, inexpensive food menu is a mix of Japanese and Western dishes - oxtail stew, pork cutlets, pastas, and of course desserts.
Goko-dori 8-2-6, Kobe Kokusai Kaikan 11F. (on Flower Road about 3 min. south of JR Sannomiya station) Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.