Translated by Richard Perkins
Cafe Freundlieb In Kobe - Enjoying Tea Time In A Former Church
Written by Kenji Hemmi
If you are feeling tired from sightseeing in Kobe, why not take a break in an elegant cafe? We’d like to introduce to you Cafe Freundlieb in Kobe, a cafe located inside of a building that once used to be a church.
A Former Church - Cafe Freundlieb, Ikuta Store
In Japan, there are many types of cafes. Cafes from long ago, chain cafes, and even very stylish cafes aimed at younger customers. When taking a break during a vacation across the land of the rising sun, why not take rest at an elegant cafe?
We’d like to introduce you to a building that was once a church but has been converted into a cafe. This is Cafe Freundlieb in the Ikuta area of Kobe.
Keeping the Outside Appearance of a Church
Only a 12-minute walk away from the center of Kobe, Sannomiya, Cafe Freundlieb is also just 10 minutes away from Shin-Kobe Station where the bullet train stops. This used to be the Kobe Union Church and was used by many Christians living in the area.
It has retained the same Neo-Gothic style on the outside as it had when it was first built.
In front of the building there is a flower garden. A plate with an explanation of the history of this place is displayed there. When the Port of Kobe was opened up this church was built for the Christians who would come to live and work in Japan. Over the years, the building faced several difficulties, for example in times such as World War II and the Great Hanshin Earthquake. But somehow the building managed to survive it all and you can learn about its fascinating history here.
In 1999, Japan recognized this building's importance and it is now registered as a Tangible Cultural Asset.
A Sacred Atmosphere that Drifts about in this Cafe
Once you go through the hall and up the stairs, you’ll be on the 2nd floor where the cafe is located.
Pictured above are the most popular dishes - the roast beef sandwich (2052 yen with tax) and the chef’s salad (1296 yen with tax).
The roast beef matches well with the rye bread that’s used in this sandwich. When you try this sandwich you’ll find that the thickness of the roast beef is superb, while the flavors and aromas will all unfold wonderfully in your mouth.
The chef’s salad is a large glass bowl that’s full of vegetables; it’s quite a big salad containing chicken, eggs, and croutons. There are apparently many people who order just this salad.
A Cafe Where You Can Experience History
Cafe Freundlieb also has a bread store. Inside it, you can feel history all over the place, so be sure to have a look around this store after resting in the cafe.
There’s an antique public phone here, just like the ones that you can normally only see in old movies. There are without a doubt not many of these in Japan, but, believe it or not, you can actually use the one that’s here.
This is a photo of the second generation owner of Freundlieb, Heinrich Freundlieb the Second. Freundlieb celebrated its 90th anniversary back in 2014.
No Compromises Made on the Breads They Sell
On the 1st floor, there is a store selling bread and cookies, all of which are made on site. Here you will not only find bread but also products that are sold at other Freundlieb stores in Kobe. Freundlieb has only established stores in Kobe, and is not sure whether they will open any elsewhere in Japan as, if there were to open up around the country, they wouldn’t be able to maintain the same level of quality that they demand. The manner in which their bread is made is a method that’s faithfully preserved, having not changed since the days of Heinrich Freundlieb the 1st. Their buttery cake is popular as a gift!
There are also a number of small, cute items placed throughout the store.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Freundlieb is a cafe that has moved along with the city of Kobe. When you come to sightsee in Kobe, how about stopping at this cafe and experiencing this unique, history filled atmosphere?