Wouldn't you just love to enjoy a soothing tranquil time in one of these Kyoto cafes built in a repurposed traditional machiya, a traditional wooden house? Here is a selection of 5 machiya cafes that you should not miss!
We especially recommend CAFE1001 to those who would like to spend some time relaxing and reading. This cafe is housed in a machiya built more than 100 years ago that has been repaired with as little added innovations as possible, so it offers an outstanding atmosphere. With a collection of over 2,000 books that includes illustration books, books about cats, books about subcultures, and more, this is also a book cafe. Some of the books are really interesting to look at even if you cannot read Japanese, so do try and have a look at some. The hand-dripped coffee, carefully made one cup at a time, is served warm, not hot, so that you can truly appreciate its aroma. Their dishes are delicious as well, such as their Maruichi Curry (950 JPY), a tomato-based curry dish with a fluffy and runny omelette on top, and their seasonal original desserts. They have different types of seats, including a tatami-floored zashiki space where you should take your shoes off, table seats, and sofa seats. Choose your favorite and relax!
2. rumah cafe
rumah cafe is a cafe bar housed in a machiya refurbished to evoke a tropical atmosphere, so you can almost feel like you are in a beach hut even though this is actually in Kyoto. The collaboration between the machiya and the tropical style, which includes surfboards used as decorative objects, creates an interesting atmosphere. The cafe serves authentic Indonesian cuisine such as nasi goreng fried rice and coconut curry at reasonable prices between 500 and 800 JPY. They also have a plentiful drink menu, and prepare cocktails to your liking. Enjoy a drink at their bar counter, which will make you feel as if you were in a street stall in a southern country. The restaurant plays groovy music in the background, and it also holds music events on an irregular basis. This is a cafe & bar with a homey atmosphere where you can truly unwind, which is exactly the kind of place that the owner wanted to create.
3. omo cafe
omo cafe is a cafe serving Japanese-style sweets and fusion cuisine in a refurbished machiya in Kyoto. The interior of the cafe makes the most of the original atmosphere of the machiya combining it with slightly dim lighting to create an elegant space that is very popular among local office ladies and young women. We recommend their cuisine, which is a combination of Western cuisine with a Japanese base. The cafe becomes a Spanish style canteen on Tuesday and Friday nights, and most of their dishes, including ratatouille and homemade roast ham, become available for 500 JPY, so you can enjoy this place even if you are not a fan of Japanese cuisine. The cafe offers many different Japanese-style desserts, including rolled cake and bavarois, all of which are served in lovely tableware that matches the atmosphere. If you are visiting during the summer, make sure to try their super popular shaved ice. The secret to its popularity lies in the homemade syrup, and it looks like their most popular flavor is strawberries and milk, which they serve with a strawberry syrup made from raw strawberries.
4. Iyemon Salon
Iyemon Salon promotes the timeless tea culture of Japan in a modern cafe. The interior of the cafe is spacious and has a relaxed atmosphere, and guests at the window seats can enjoy their tea as they indulge in a view of the beautiful Japanese style garden. The restaurant is very popular for lunch, dinner, and even for tea time starting at 3:00 pm, but they also serve breakfast starting at 8:00 am. Their rice, steamed in the cafe's original "kamado" (rice cooking oven) is fluffy and delicious too. And it is nice to note that you can upgrade your portion of rice to extra large for free! Breakfast in such a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere will surely contribute to making your morning all the more graceful. At the special tea counter you can taste tea carefully brewed by specialized staff one pot at a time. The drink menu includes green tea-based alcoholic drinks such as namacha beer and green tea mojito, making this the perfect cafe for grownups to enjoy green tea in a different way than the usual.
5. Nakamura Tokichi Honten
Nakamura Tokichi Honten is a famous store specializing in green tea sweets that has been ran by a tea seller for over 150 years. The restaurant, built wellhole style, features an 8 meter high ceiling and offering the perfect atmosphere to eat their exquisite matcha desserts. We recommend their namacha jelly (740 JPY). The namacha jelly served at the main branch of this store comes in a bamboo plate that matches the charming atmosphere of the building, and which will surely contribute to making the experience all the more exciting. In addition, this store offers the option to experience an authentic tea ceremony in a casual manner in a tea room from the Genroku period (1688 - 1704) after grinding the green tea in a stone mortar, so make sure to give it a try (2,160 JPY (incl. tax)). Nakamura Tokichi Honten becomes really crowded at opening time, so make sure that you have time to spare when you visit. It is located next to Byodoin Temple in Uji, so it is a good idea to visit both if you are going sightseeing. Besides the main branch, the store has threes other branches in Kyoto: the Byodoin branch and the Kyoto Station branches.
Machiya cafes offer an atmosphere handed down over generations, and you may notice that time seems to flow in a different way when you are in one. Enjoy a cup of tea, indulge in sweets, or read a book... the possibilities are so many. We hope that you will have a lovely time in one of these cafes.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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