Nestled between two towering malls, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cove, is the cozy Commune 246.
Text and pictures by Natalie Jacobsen
Last spring, Tokyoites knew it as 246 Common, but it has since been closed, re-imagined, and resurrected earlier this year. An almost entirely outdoor food court and community space, it’s a haven for those seeking a place that feels far from the bustling streets of Tokyo.
Vintage lighting and decorations, hanging vines and overgrown wildflowers, wooden benches, and antique aluminum food carts make for an atmosphere that feels like a small southern U.S. town in summer—even though it’s just steps away from one of the Tokyo’s busier streets. Members and directors of Commune 246 have designed the space meticulously, adhering to their three principles of “Freedom, Random, and Wisdom.”
Stroll off the sidewalk of Aoyama Dori (near exit A3 of Omotesando Station) and into the organic wonderland, or ride your bike and make use of the space they have reserved for riders. Plop down on a spacious bench outside one of the food carts with friends, or choose a seat at the cafeteria-style seating area beneath the wide, sheer arch. Brimming with colleagues grabbing a beer after work and couples sharing snacks on a date, it’s a lively atmosphere fit for any hungry passerby.
By Tokyo standards, customer demographics are quite diverse, and the culinary offerings are just as varied. Most booths and carts offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on their menus, making for one of the highest concentrations of Tokyo restaurants that are flexible for sensitive eaters. Meat lovers, fear not: there are plenty of options for you, too—from grilled Japanese-style to loaded hot dogs, meat stews, curry and fish. It’s reasonably priced, with many items able to be bought with a handful of that loose change in your wallet.
More than just a place to snag a bite to eat, Commune 246 offers what other food courts do not: a rentable stage, event areas, a petit art gallery, and even a place to stay. Their site boasts a fully furnished (yes, hot shower and WiFi too) caravan to call your own for a weekend. It’s just around the corner from two other food trucks, tucked in a small nook for privacy. The stage and galleries have already hosted a wedding, a concert, and grand opening parties for companies in the area.
What makes it truly worthwhile is the sense of community. Although there are separate businesses within Commune 246, all of the workers interact, creating a shared, collaborative network. They’ve teamed up to self-publish an information magazine that features interviews with owners, provides a history of each business, and gives information on the idea behind the project. The art gallery is interactive, and is meant to incite conversation and curiosity; the communal stage is open for anyone; and a lack of walls between carts and seating areas (one could say that the layout of the place is a free flowing piece of artwork itself) makes for an open setting and open minds. The space encourages patrons to open up and share their table with strangers who might be looking for a seat.
It should come as no surprise that a creative space like this would have a healthy relationship with social media, and they invite visitors to send pictures and event notices to their Instagram and Facebook pages, preserving memories and enticing countless others to capture theirs at Commune 246.
3 Chome-13 Minamiaoyama
Hours: 11:00–22:00 (average; individual businesses inside sometimes open/close earlier/later)