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A Mysterious Blue Space! Soiree, an Iconic Kyoto Cafe with a Colorful Jelly Punch

Kyoto cafes have the image of being places of culture in front of universities or where artists and intellectuals gather. Among the many famous cafes favored by the intelligentsia, we introduce Soiree, a cafe with a mysterious feel. You can enjoy works by the famous painter, Seiji Togo, and gem-like gelatin cubes in a blue space that retains the atmosphere from the time the cafe opened.

A Cafe for Dreamers During the Postwar Revitalization Period

Soiree is a cafe with a mysterious atmosphere at the entrance of Kiyamachi, an area where eateries line the banks of Takase River. The strange blue light seeping through the windows may make one hesitate slightly before opening the door. The founder, Kazuo Motoki, opened the cafe in 1948. He chose blue light that is "flattering to women" on the advice of the dye artist, Rokuro Kamimura. The wood carvings that are everywhere from the walls to the toilet doorknob is by the sculptor, Sadaharu Ikeno, who was Motoki's fishing buddy. Soiree is so popular today that lines form in front of it at weekends.

Many come from afar for the Jelly Punch. Once you've enjoyed the fizzy soda and cute gelatin cubes, take a look at the paintings on the walls. Motoki, who was acquainted with famous artists, was also a collector of paintings and displayed works by Seiji Togo, the famous painter known for his depiction of the female form, in the cafe. Togo visited the cafe intrigued by the person who bought his "Yakaino Onna (Woman at Soiree)" and by the cafe. Since then, he produced numerous paintings of women for Soiree. This cafe, which was once beloved as a gathering place for artists and other people of culture, remains unchanged in its countenance yet continues to adopt new aesthetics that have evolved with the times.


The Jelly Punch (650 JPY) was invented 40 years ago. It is a charming drink with gelatin cubes in five colors floating on soda water! Lines form before opening at the weekend, so try visiting during the week.


The second floor has high ceilings giving it an open feel. The decorative rosewood wall carvings, including a powerful carving of Bacchus, the god of wine, makes it luxurious.


"Yakaino Onna (Woman at a Soiree)," the Togo piece on the first floor, is of a woman with her eyes open, which is unusual for this type of work. There is no background music so as not to interfere with the guests' conversations.


【Surrounded by Seiji Togo paintings】A drawing of a woman made for Soiree is on the cafe's card (left). There is also a set of two postcards (right), available at 300 JPY.


Notice the showcase full of coffee cups near the entrance! The original handkerchiefs are unfortunately no longer available for purchase.


These coffee cups and saucers by Koransha are valuable items that can only be touched in the shop. They were previously available for purchase. Works by Togo are depicted in gold on a lapis lazuli background that Koransha is known for. If you order the blended coffee (550 JPY) on the first floor, it will be served in this cup.

Soiree

95 Nishi-Kiyamachidori Shijo-agaru Shin-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Enjoy your very own cafe time in a space full of blue! [This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 02.17.2017]

*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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