(☞ﾟ∀ﾟ)☞ JAPAN 2013 MASTERPOST
I guess serendipity is walking, hungry, in dark, rainy, cold Kyoto streets looking for a Japanese-style diner, not finding any and eventually settling for a 'Western food' cafe (which we had sworn to avoid on this trip), only to meet one of the sweetest people ever and end up having an amazingly fun evening.
珈琲工房 (Coffee Workshop) was the place.
Coffee Workshop is run by Kazuya-san and its adorable imitation of a little Western cafe is very quintessentially Japanese in its own way.
It's all about the little details, from the handwritten and illustrated menu to the coffee filters along the bar table to the teacup collection and the vintage telephone booth in one corner.
The menu is simple - primarily toast, pizza bread and pancakes. Nothing particularly groundbreaking to someone who is used to this sort of food on a daily basis but decent enough, and perhaps designed to complement the coffee which none of us ordered, not being coffee drinkers (and thus clearly misusing the cafe's specialty)
What we didn't expect was striking up a conversation with Kazuya-san, I think over the cameras that S and I brought with us that were used to take the photos above.
It's kind of hard to describe what a lovely person he is - he just has an incredibly friendly, cheerful aura.
He has the tradition of taking photos of foreign visitors - either from other Japanese cities or overseas - and asking them to draw a little greeting page for his folder and he has the largest collection of markers, decorative paper and stickers, which he provided for us to use.
He's also a photography enthusiast and showed us beautiful photos of the nearby temples in autumn which he took himself. He has an adorable camera set up, lots of portrait and pose ideas and a knack for making his subjects laugh because of his endearing enthusiasm - 'OK! OK! いいね！ナイス！' were the repeated exclamations.
We ended up staying well past closing time, taking a pseudo photoshoot and he took the time to painstakingly print us a copy of all the photos (there were a lot) while we wrote a page for his guestbook and ended up giving us some more small presents before we left. We eventually did leave, honestly, quite shell shocked from sheer kindness.
This was very much a one-time-lucky encounter so I urge you not to visit, if you do, with the expectation of special treatment. But if you do meet Kazuya-san, I'm very sure he will touch you somehow with his kindness and exuberance.
There's no website but I have scanned a business card. It's literally right outside Kinkakuji-michi bus stop so, if you're in the area, drop by so you can assess the coffee quality on my behalf (: