For a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto, drop by Otafuku in Kawaramachi. Though it’s right in the heart of the city, you’ll be whisked away to another world in this retro kissaten.
Otafuku – image © Chris Rowthorn
There’s no shortage of good to great coffee places downtown – Inoda Coffee, Drip & Drop Coffee Supply, and Weekenders Coffee Tominokoji all come to mind. But drinking coffee at a kissaten is a distinct experience in itself. These retro cafes serve ink-black coffee, and with their environments recalling hints of European belle époque, they’re perfect for a quiet escape from busy city environments.
Otafuku is one such escape. It’s right in the heart of the Kawaramachi area, but you wouldn’t know it from the inside. Blink and you’ll miss the entrance, but it’s there, and you’ll have to descend the stairs to this warm little basement cafe. As you walk through the door, the motor-driven din of downtown Kyoto subsides, replaced by cool jazz along the lines of Miles Davis. If it is not otherwise serenely quiet, there is the opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations carried out in gentle, melodious, Kyoto dialect.
The house blend here is less darkly roasted than the average kissaten and produces a more balanced cup – juicy and full of depth, without the burnt bitterness many kissaten favour. But this is by no means quick coffee: it is hand-poured through a filter, the beans freshly ground and water newly boiled for each cup.
Should you not want coffee, there are other temptations: tea, cream soda (a brilliant, radioactive green), and egg pudding. The pudding is optional, but know that it is worth ordering. Incidentally, you will know the proprietor Noda-san by his infamous sideburns, which give him an uncanny resemblance to Lupin the Third.
Otafuku features in our 1-Day Kyoto Foodie Itinerary. Check it out here.
For more Kyoto kissaten choices, see our Best Kissaten in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
609 Teianmaeno-cho, Teramachi-dori-Shijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku
Closed 15th every month
Non-smoking area: No
1min walk from Kawaramachi Station Exit 10, Hankyu line
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
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- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
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