Little Tokyo, the tiny neighbourhood within the Blok M area in the South is clearly one of the most unique enclaves in Jakarta. There’s no old shrine or vending machines dispensing ramen here. But what they do have is plenty of Japanese restaurants and bars that filled the entire block.
The neighbourhood is pretty much similar to Jekyll and Hyde (a fictional character from Louis Stevenson’s 1886 that struggles with dual personalities). During the day, especially on weekend, the area picks up its pace during lunchtime, where families frequent the izakayas for lunch, before slowing back down again during late afternoon.
But once the sun has set, sign boxes from various Japanese restaurants flicker into life and Little Tokyo is awash with visitors, locals and tourists alike. White-collar Japanese expats are a common sight here, indulging in after-work drinks with their fellow countrymen. A handful of dodgy bars lodged themselves comfortably among the restaurants. Passers-by are free to speculate the kind of hedonistic activities taking place behind those doors.
Over the years, very little has changed in Little Tokyo. But the presence of third-wave coffee shops, like the popular Filosofi Kopi and Djule, has attracted a flow of younger visitors, adding another layer of character to the area. From young bicyclists, enthusiastic tourists, sleepy street vendors to spirited kitchen workers, Little Tokyo is one ecosystem where people watching is one heck of a gratifying pastime.