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Four Must-Visit Retro & Japanese-Style Cafes in Kyoto

In Kyoto, you can find “relaxing spots” – such as a riverside cafe created by self-renovating the garage of a traditional townhouse – that are perfect for breaks in-between sightseeing. Below are some relaxing, retro cafes in Kyoto. <*This information is from Kansai Walker (issued October 10, 2017)>

Get Warm and Cozy by Taking in the Aroma of Kyocha Coffee While Viewing Shirakawa River

Shirakawa Cafe is a 13.2sq.m cafe that is housed in the renovated garage of a machiya (traditional Japanese townhouse). It is distinguished by its facade, which uses reclaimed old fittings and a red sign. It primarily serves kyocha coffee, which is a mixture of Japanese tea and coffee, so you can relax with the gentle scent of Japanese tea. Enjoy a coffee break in the ancient former capital while gazing at the willow trees swaying in the autumn wind.

Shirakawa River flows right in front of the cafe, which has terrace seating that will let you feel a gentle breeze.

You may want to take your drinks to go and walk along Shirakawa River. The roads on both sides of the river are scheduled to be resurfaced by next spring.

The storefront, which was renovated to blend in with the neighborhood, has a take-out window.

A cozy 13.2sq.m cafe housed in a renovated garage of a traditional Japanese home by the owners.

Pictured above is the Hojicha Coffee (right, 400 JPY) that has an elegant aroma of high-quality tea Uji leaves and the Yuzu Soda (left, 600 JPY) that is only offered for a limited time. The soda is made with yuzu from Mizuo in Ukyo Ward.

【Here's the Appeal!】
The manager, Mutsumi Nishimura, said, "Our concept is to be a place that connects tourists with the locals. We want our customers to enjoy the special experience of having a relaxing conversation with elderly ladies from the neighborhood in a traditional home that has a view of Shirakawa River from every seat”.

Capacity: 11 seats (7 table seating, 4 terrace seating)
Drinks: 11 choices, including Hojicha Cafe Latte (550 JPY) and Barley Coffee (450 JPY)
Food: None
Sweets: Hojicha Ice Cream (400 JPY) only
Smoking: Non-smoking (smoking allowed on the terrace)

■Shirakawa Cafe
Phone: 075-744-1619
Hours: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Closed: Tuesdays
Parking: None
Access: 5 minutes on foot from Higashiyama Station on the subway

Shirakawa Cafe

559-4 Karatohana-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Renovated a Japanese-style Building from the Early Showa Period Into a Stylish Cafe

Founded in 1907, Murakami Kaishindo – a Western confectionery store that is famous for its Russian cakes – has finally opened a much-awaited cafe on its grounds. It offers coffee and sweets that are only available at its cafe, which is housed in a nostalgic Japanese-style building from the early Showa period.

A modern Japanese atmosphere with Scandinavian antiques.

A picture of the Sweets Set (Fondant Chocolat) (1,200 JPY) that is only available at this cafe.

The Sweets Set (Hojicha Chiffon Cake) (1,200 JPY) made with hojicha tea from Ippodo Tea Co. is only available at this cafe. This set comes with coffee or black tea.

【Here's the Appeal!】
The owner, Shoichi Murakami, said, "It's an unusual building with a Western-style stucco front and Japanese-style back. The Japanese-style section used to be a residential area, but it was carefully renovated into a cafe".

Seating: 15 (15 table seating)
Drinks: 6 choices, including Kaishindo Blend (750 JPY)
Food: None
Sweets: 2 varieties of Sweets Sets (Hojicha Chiffon Cake) (1,200 JPY), which are only available at this cafe
Smoking: Non-smoking

■Murakami Kaishindo Cafe
Phone: 075-231-1058
Hours: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Closed: Sundays, Public holidays, Third Monday of every month
Parking: None
Access: 4 minutes on foot from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station on the subway

Murakami Kaishindo Cafe

Nijo-agaru Higashi-gawa, Teramachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

A Stylishly Renovated 80-Year-Old Building

KAMEE COFFEE, a cafe that debuted in Sanjo Shotengai, offers a wide selection of sweets and food from the owner's home prefecture of Okinawa. Espressos and hand drip coffees made with strong coffee beans from Okinawa’s YAMADA COFFEE are served.

An 80-year-old wood building that was renovated into a cafe.

They serve a variety of dishes, such as the Okinawa Zenzai (regular size) (front, 580 JPY) that is available until mid-October, the Sata Andagi (middle, 70 JPY - 100 JPY) that is available in four flavors (including chocolate), and the Coffee Float (left back, 560 JPY).

【Here's the Appeal!】
The owner, Yoshikatsu Nakazato, said, "This space was designed to retain the warmth of wood. We paid special attention to the fittings, such as tables made with reclaimed materials and American-style decorations. The second floor, which can be used as a private room, will be completed on September 30!"

Capacity: 36 seats (36 table seating)
Drinks: 28 choices, including Cafe Latte (480 JPY)
Food: 8 choices, including Taco Rice (780 JPY)
Sweets: 8 choices, including Pound Cake (380 JPY)
Smoking: Non-smoking

Phone: 075-406-5109
Hours: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Closed: Unscheduled
Parking: None
Access: 10 minutes on foot from Nijojo-mae Station on the subway


50-1 Kamikawara-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Take Off Your Shoes and Relax in a Machiya-Style Cafe with Quiet BGM

ENGAWA cafe – which is popular for its dishes made with namafu and yakifu (fresh and grilled wheat protein) – has opened a sister cafe called OTYOBO by ENGAWA cafe further down the street. You can take home sweets made with fresh namafu from the owner's family home, or you can enjoy them at the cafe. Some of their dishes can only be eaten on-site!

A serene atmosphere.

There are a variety of menu items available here, such as the OTYOBO'S Namafu Manju (front, 313 JPY - 399 JPY), which comes in six flavors, including Sayuri (plain namafu and matcha sweet bean paste) (313 JPY). You can also get the Kimagure Namafu Crepe (back right, 702 JPY) or the Ippudo's Cold Brew Green Tea (back left, 540 JPY).

【Here's the Appeal!】
The manager, Sakura Hagizaki, said, "You can really relax in this retro building because you have to take your shoes off to enter. The roomy second floor is particularly popular. We hope you will come and have a special experience in our space, which is at the back of a street. It has the feel of a hideaway!"

Capacity: 11 seats (5 counter seating, 4 zashiki seating, 2 table seating)
Drinks: 10 choices, including Ippudo's Matcha Green Tea (648 JPY)
Food: None
Sweets: 13 choices, such as OTYOBO's Namafu Parfait (885 JPY)
Smoking: Non-smoking

Phone: 075-746-2488
Hours: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed: Thursdays
Parking: None
Access: 4 minutes on foot from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station on the subway


155-4 Tachibanayanagi-cho, Nijo-agaru, Shinkarasuma-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 10.18.2017]

*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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