Book Cafes Are In!

Maybe it is the latest thing? Book Cafes are springing up all over Hiroshima. I was able to visit three of them and want to let you know the atmosphere and strong points of each!

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Hon to Jiyu Cafe, Yokogawa

For finding cool books, the newly opened hidden nook, 本と自由(Hon to Jiyu) near Yokogawa Station in Hiroshima city is number one hands down! I realized that, as a customer, I want to buy a great book when I find it, and this cafe is actually a used bookstore. Not just any used bookstore, but his choices are unique: ecology, outsider art, the current music scene and socially-significant books! I guess you’d say “sub-culture” books.           DSCF7182 I enjoyed browsing and spoke briefly with the owner, Mr. Aoyama. The shop just opened on June first and, since it was a Sunday, the little counter space was crowded. I wish I could have sat down, had coffee and a chat with Aoyama-san! I really need to go back on a weekday!

Aoyama-san at his BookCafe

Aoyama-san at his BookCafe

This place is a little hard to find,but I definitely would recommend you check it out! it’s open from 1:00 to 23:00, closed Mondays. The address is 3-4-14 Yokogawa-machi, Hiroshima-shi   Tel. 082-233-9239

From there, we went to the Hondori area of Hiroshima and walked around looking for Cafe Espressibo. It had begun to rain and we were a little lost so we asked this nice security guard for directions. He took us in the building to look it up on a map! Thanks for the help!!

Thanks for the good directions!

Thanks for the good directions!

The cafe was on the first floor of an apartment bldg and we had to walk through the “noren” of an udon shop to get there. Normally this cafe is open from until 6:00 PM on SUnday, but they were closing early. I had called in advance and was told they’d be open till 5 PM, but when we went in at 4:15, the owner didn’t seem to want to seat us. “We are closing early today.” Finally. we did sit at the counter and have coffee.

Cafe Espressibo

Cafe Espressibo

There are around 700 books to look at . Novels, travel guides, cookbooks and ordinary fare. The menu is centered around pancakes, the most elaborate being their Hawaiian Pancake covered in tons of fruit an whipped cream. We just ordered coffee. To be honest, I wouldn’t go here again.   They didn’t seem to welcome us at all!

Cafe owner, Yuka Matsuura

Cafe owner, Yuka Matsuura

But FYI the address is 8-4-105 Highness Kokusai Bldg Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi   Tel  082-258-2099 (Cafe Espressibo)

Darts' Girl Natsuko enjoys her coffee!

Darts’ Girl Natsuko enjoys her coffee!

That said, the coffee was good and served in a generous-sized cup!

Oheso Cafe and Bakery

OK! I saved the best for last..well as far as food and overall atmosphere goes, you must take a country drive to visit the Book Cafe and bakery in Sera-cho. It ‘s one and a half to two hours from Hiroshima, but is a pleasant dining experience in a spacious old Japanese farmhouse!

Oheso Cafe and Bakery

Oheso Cafe and Bakery

The Oheso Cafe and Bakery is run by Kyoko Daida and her Spanish husband, Frank Castella. According to the info on the menu, oheso(Belly button?)means “connected”, especially that we are connected to nature, and to all other living things.

 

The decor is great, our waiters are all foreigners (read Americans and Brits and other non-Japanese) and the pizza was great. It is apparently baked in a Spanish-style brick oven.

 

 

We had the one with prosciutto and black olives. We also ordered the risotto with chicken. Everything was delicious.

Brick-oven Pizza!!

Brick-oven Pizza!!

We enjoyed looking at some of their books. She has a total collection of “Tennen Seikatsu” and “Kunel” magazines and tons of other books and magazines to look page through while you sit on the engawa and enjoy the breeze!

"There are a lot of books that interest me"-Kanae

“There are a lot of books that interest me”-Kanae

Our server, Jo-Jo was from New Jersey and he said he is a Woofer. I found out that means someone who works for free for room and board to experience life in another country.

Jo-Jo from New Jersey

Jo-Jo from New Jersey

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Oheso owner, Kyoko Daida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bought some of their sourdough 天然酵母 bread. Kyoko told us the starter is made from just wheat and water. It is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and has great flavor. I didn’t get to meet her husband.

All-Natural Sourdough Bread

All-Natural Sourdough Bread

We had a great time and if it wasn’t so far, I’m ready to go back again. This restaurant uses organic vegetables and provides natural homemade soap in the restroom. It’s nice to meet people who care about the environment and support anti-nuclear and ecology movements.

I want to open a Book Cafe, though it may be more of a dream than a reality. But visiting these places made me realize what things are desirable in the eye of the customer. A friendly welcome, books to buy (if possible) and a calm, open atmosphere. Good bread helps!

Relaxing with books at Oheso Cafe

Relaxing with books at Oheso Cafe

I hope to visit the Hon to Jiyu cafe again soon and talk more with the owner, He looks like an interesting person. So I’ll report back on that! And you must take a drive and enjoy the Oheso Cafe. It is closed on Wed and Thur The hours are 11:00 to 5:00, but lunch is only served between 11:00 and 2:00!

Oheso Cafe  広島県世羅町宇津戸1155  050-2020-5515

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Jul 14, 2013 @ 12:47:32

    Oh! For many years I’ve wanted to open a book cafe with my best friend. It’s one of those dreams we talk about doing some day. I’ve never really come across a book cafe in my place. The ones you’ve cited sound interesting… the last one looks tempting! 😀

    Reply

  2. todaysillustrationtomorrow
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 13:43:16

    ahhh! That’s my all time fantasy to open a book cafe, too! I really want to visit the first one (Hon to Jiyu) and the last, Oheso cafe. We don’t really have a used book store/cafe type place in Philly either….maybe I should open one up…just daydreamin’!

    Reply

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