American Vibes in Tokyo: Fussa Base Side Street
Feel like a taste of the USA but don’t want to leave Tokyo? Hop on the Chuo/Ome Line from Shinjuku to Fussa and spend the day in the western part of the city.
In under an hour, you’ll arrive in Fussa at Ushihama Station on the Ome Line. From the ticket gate head straight towards Route 16. The strip of this national highway that passes by Yokota Air Base—a US Air Force facility also used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force—is known as Base Side Street, and it’s where everything is happening.
Join us as we explore the area, beginning with a 10-minute walk through typical Japanese suburbia. But it doesn’t take long before we encounter our first taste of America: palm trees and billboards with English. Soon after turning onto Route 16, a huge sign for Okinawan Blue Seal ice cream leads us to our first stop: a café called HOOP.
I am surprised to see an extensive two-level modern shopfront with a large carpark, but am delighted that HOOP’s famous bagels are just moments away. I left my house early, with no breakfast or coffee, so my stomach hastens my pace to the entrance. As we open the door, our senses are immediately set alive by the sight, smell, and general atmosphere.
The owner was inspired by a trip to New York where he visited the famous Ess-a-Bagel, a shop founded in 1976 that is considered by many to be the city’s essential bagel maker. He was inspired to make bagels for the Fussa community and offer military personnel from the base a taste of home.
As the friendly staff shows us around, our eyes are drawn to the seasonal Halloween decorations and amazing selection of bagels.
Upstairs is an area where children can play, run, and make noise without disturbing other patrons, and food and drink ordered downstairs can be taken there. This space—which can also be reserved—is a draw for the restaurant, and there is often a waiting list.
Taking a seat, we browse the menu to see what’s on offer. There’s more than just bagels. Hot dogs, thick sandwiches, and fried potatoes all scream America, and the breakfast deal is superb. An all-you-can-eat buffet is available seven days a week from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.
The most popular bagel features smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, and capers. I indulge in this and am heartily satisfied with the flavors, presentation, and size. Yukari, the manager, tells me HOOP bagels are made to suit everyone’s taste and tailored to the Japanese market.
The bestselling items are the rainbow bagel and the original plain Hoop Bagel.
The variety of flavors is astonishing: mango, Earl Grey, chocolate chip, green tea, smoked cheese and bacon, maple syrup, fig, and pumpkin to name a few! And there are many seasonal delights. My eyes are drawn to the skull-and-bones double chocolate as well as the mummy-wrapped sausage bagels for Halloween. Yukari told me her favorite is the Gouda cheese bagel.
Feeling full and satisfied, we make our way back out to Route 16 for a stroll to a former military surplus shop that sells furniture.
Arriving at the furniture store, we’re welcomed by the manager, Yuko, who speaks excellent English. She explains that Deco Demode opened in 1997 as a surplus shop for military furniture. In the 1960s, Route 16 was dominated by similar stores. But as trends and designs changed, such shops became hard to come by. We soon learned that Deco Demode has also changed their products over the past 10 years to focus more on architectural products, such as doors, lighting, glassware, sinks, and accessories.
Yuko says that, as Japan’s population declines, a market for reasonably priced older homes is growing. Young couples in their thirties and forties who have bought one of these properties to renovate are their biggest customer.
Small, reasonably priced items, such as storage boxes and light switch fixtures, are the shop’s most popular offerings, along with furniture from the 1960s and ’70s, and pieces designed by Deco Demode.
Originally, all the items were from the United States. But, over the years, Deco Demode has diversified their collection to showcase products from other countries. The dominant style is mid-century vintage. I ask Yuko to show me her favorite items, and am delighted to find that we share the same tastes. She lovingly tells me about the old vintage European lights that would suit an old Japanese home just perfectly.
If you are looking to add a touch of class to a corner of your home, or redecorate, you will surely pick up some treasures at Deco Demode.
Details of shops visited.
2475 Fussa City, Tokyo
Hours: 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. 7 days a week
Deco Demode Vintage Furniture Store
2351 Fussa, Fussa City Tokyo
Hours: 11:00-20:00 7 days a week
This article was written by Sarah NishinaBack