Translated by Masahisa Matsunuma
Itsuki Garden - A Kamakura Cafe Perched High in the Sky
Written by MATCHA
Itsuki Garden is a lush garden cafe in the coastal town of Kamakura. Take a look at the tranquil break you can take in the ancient town.
There's a quaint cafe in Kamakura that only opens on sunny mornings and closes at sunset. If it's raining, you're out of luck and will have to come back the following day (of course, if weather permits)!
It's a 15 to 20-minute walk from Kamakura Station. In the sunlight scattered by the shadows of waving leaves, delicious handmade cakes and the owner's smiling face will be awaiting your visit. Since the cafe is almost like a part of nature, the opening hours vary according to the weather conditions.
Itsuki Garden ("itsuki" translates to "forest garden") is a healing sanctuary situated in the forest where it's essential to check the weather forecast before going. It's one of my favorite places to go.
Serene Cafe Facing the Mountain
Once you walk past Kamakura's Great Buddha, you'll arrive at this cafe located at the foot of the mountain. It'll suddenly come into sight after trekking up the hiking trail.
It originally operated as a cottage and started to serve as a resting place, furnished with only a few chairs, for those tired from walking. Here, visitors coming from the city can let go of their daily concerns and worries.
Some customers have even coined it "The Cafe in the Sky" since it appears as if the tables and chairs are floating in the forest.
On a clear day, you can spot Mt.Fuji and the Great Buddha of Kamakura from here. Unfortunately, I couldn't see them on the day I visited.
Am I the only one who's excited to see this signpost that measures the distances of overseas cities? To the south of the cafe is Sydney while to the east is Los Angeles. This quirky addition adds to the charm of this cafe.
A Serene Sanctuary Surrounded by the Sea and Mountains
I was impressed by the beautiful greenery visible at Itsuki Garden. During my visit, I managed to speak with the owner and ask why he renovated his cottage into a cafe and what are his recommendations here. Please read below for the full interview.
Why did you decide to open a cafe here?
I was initially going to only use this building as a cottage. However, since it is a popular pitstop along hiking trails, we unexpectedly had many visitors who inquired to use the bathroom, telephone, or simply couldn't keep on hiking any longer.
At that time, not many people owned cell phones, so it made sense that there were plenty of hikers who had lost their way on the trail. That was when I decided to make this into a resting place. That is how [the cafe] began.
I love drinking the Kamakura Plum Cider served here. What other items do you recommend off the menu?
Our herb tea and cakes are very tasty, too.
This cafe is a lovely place, but it's a bit far from the station.
Right. Kamakura has long been a tourist location. It is a town meant to spend time strolling around. Visitors who spend their time in the hustle and bustle around the station have different needs. I do, however, think that cafes and shops around the bustling station can coexist with hideaway cafes like us.
One last question. How would you personally describe Kamakura?
It's a place complete with the ocean, mountains, and rich history. Please come visit for a nice, relaxing stroll with your pet.
Take a Deep Breath in Elaborately Arranged Spaces
Thanks to the ubiquitous Internet access and convenient transportation network, customers come from both the Kamakura and Tokyo area.
Itsuki Garden is an oasis in the forest that will gently soothe tired cafe-goers. By the way, the bricks on the premises were piled up—one by one—by the owner. And this meticulous process took 30 years! You can catch a glimpse of his care and passion towards objects that may not appear particularly special at first glance.
Seasonal flowers and colorful plants also add to Itsuki Garden's charm. I highly recommend having a BBQ here during the summer.
Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life will allow you to take a breather—and take a deep breath. Fill your lungs with fresh air and feel it purify your body. While it's great to chat with your partner or friends here, you may want to treat your visit as a peaceful holiday and spend it leisurely reading books.
Surrounded by the nature of Kamakura, please take advantage of being here and experience a day different from any other.
By the way, I happened to take the wrong path and ended up walking an extra 15 minutes. So carefully check the map because it's a little tricky to reach the cafe. Nevertheless, it was a happy mistake that led to a refreshing walk along the scenic hiking trails.