When we were on our annual trip to Japan this year we were lucky enough to stumble upon a hidden gem in Kyoto where we were in search of blooming cherry blossom trees. “Kotoba no haoto”, which roughly means “the buzz of words” is a cafe housed in a Machiya, a traditional wooden townhouse and was an oasis of calm after a frenetic cherry blossom viewing session in the nearby imperial palace gardens.
Although we had read about the cafe previously we didn’t really have a plans to visit, it was just that we had arrived in Kyoto quite early and after 2 hours of looking at and taking photos of the early blooming cherry trees decided it was time to move on. As it would happen the cafe was only 10 minutes walk from where we were. With the aid of Google maps we set off through the back streets of Kyoto.
As we arrived there was already a queue though the shop wasn’t due to open for another 40 minutes. As you an see we were number 7 and 8 in the queue with Marc holding our place as I took the photo.
In the end only 10 people were allowed in for the sitting. We were so fortunate to have been there at the right time. Once inside we were seated at traditional Japanese tables and given time to take in the surroundings while our food order was freshly prepared. Every corner of the cafe had something to see – not all of it cat related. Can you spot the unseasonal interloper dressed in red among the photos? The cafe was very relaxed and customers were encouraged to keep noise levels to a minimum so people could read the many books on offer or just enjoy the atmosphere.
We even had time to enjoy some games. I’m not sure Marc really knew what he was doing but at least it was good practice for his Japanese reading skills.
However, the main reason we wanted to visit Kotoba no haoto was for their food, in particular their dessert. And we were certainly not disappointed. All the food is orgamic and the menu on the day of our visit was a beef burger served on a slice of aubergine (eggplant) with a side salad and rice. The Neko Parfait are hand made by the owners and are limited to only 20 per day. With all the intricate work required I’m not surprised. They were so cute looking it was a real shame to eat them but they tasted as good as they looked right down to the white chocolate whiskers.
If you think the parfaits are cute, the little drawings previous customers had made on the comment books left on the tables, were just as cute. As our drawing skills are about the level of a two year old, we decided to just enjoy them.
The cafe is unsurprisingly booked to capacity everyday, with the people behind us in the queue waiting a couple of hours inside for the next sitting. They obviously know it;s worth the wait. We’ll certainly be making a point of returning next time we’re in Kyoto.
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