Translated by Lester Somera
Stylish Kobe Spots - Cafes And Unique Stationery At Kobe Brick Warehouse!
Written by Kousuke DEKI
Kobe is well-known for its shopping areas, but the Kobe Brick Warehouse by the port is a well-kept secret, housing cafes, restaurants, stationery stores and other stores. Read to learn more about this shopping facility in Kansai!
Kobe Brick Warehouse, Right Next to the Harbor
Picture courtesy of Kobe Tourism Bureau
One shopping area in Kobe is Harborland, which faces out onto the ocean. The high-class atmosphere in this neighborhood is unique to a port city.
As the lapping of the waves reaches your ears, a grand brick building will come into sight.
This is the Kobe Brick Warehouse (Kobe Renga Soko). Built in the late 1890s, it was originally used to store goods arriving at the port of Kobe until 1987.
While you can feel the history emanating from it, the Brick Warehouse is now a multipurpose commercial complex containing three restaurants, a stationery store, a furniture store, and an event space. The Brick Warehouse one of Kobe's hidden gems, distanced from the central areas of Motomachi and Sannomiya. We will look at two places in the Brick Warehouse: a wonderful cafe and a stationery store we wanted to spend hours exploring in.
Savor Fresh Vegetables at the Goodays Department Cafe
Customers here range from young tourists to locals, drawn to the unique atmosphere.
Head through the entrance surrounded by brick and you will welcomed by an open and inviting atmosphere.
Soft music plays inside the store with its Hawaii-themed interior and surfboard-made walls. Time seems to pass slowly here. We recommend trying the dishes made using fresh vegetables and fruits. This time, we had the Good Morning (700 yen with tax), a set only offered from 8:00 to 9:00.
You’ll be amazed at the volume of this dish! The salad practically overflows the plate, topped with crispy fried bacon and made with 15 to 20 seasonal vegetables. Enjoy it with a drizzle of Caesar dressing.
The salad utilizes the freshest vegetables, and the green peppers and tomatoes have a fruit-like sweetness. It is also delicious when mixed with a soft boiled egg or piled atop toast.
The meal comes with two pieces of bread on the side: whole wheat bread and a danish. There is a bakery inside the cafe, where they are freshly baked on-site so that the outside is crispy and the inside is fluffy. You will notice the buttery aroma with your first bite.
For your beverage, you have a choice of coffee, cafe latte, cappuccino, or black tea, served hot or with ice. We ordered an iced coffee. It was served in a stylish mason jar.
Picture courtesy of Goodays Department
Another staple here is the sprout sandwich, which is served all day (1,000 yen after tax). Fruit-topped pancakes are a popular item, as well (caramel banana pancakes for 1,200 yen after tax, pictured).
Lemonade is popular on hot days. The medium-size lemonade (600 yen after tax) is generous in portion despite its name.
Products from Erbaviva, a organic skin care brand, and the cosmetics brand John Masters are in a corner of the cafe. Why not browse what they have available as you sip your coffee?
At Goodays Department, you can take a break from shopping and enjoy a substantial meal. We hope you spend some relaxing time here at this cafe.
Nagasawa, Wall-to-Wall with Unique Stationery!
Next, let’s check out Nagasawa. Founded in 1882, Nagasawa is a historical company in Kobe specializing in stationery.
With a high ceiling and walls made of brick, Nagasaw exudes a relaxing environment.
Highly popular with stationery devotees, Nagasawa’s appeal lies in their original products taking up fourth of the store’s space, and its unique merchandise. We asked manager Azusa Nagai, the manager of this location, to show us more.
Roughly 70 Varieties of Original Ink, Kobe INK Monogatari
First, we looked at Kobe INK Monogatari, one of Nagasawa’s main products. There are almost 70 colors. Each color concept is developed based on Kobe landscape. The creators’ affection for the city of Kobe and its sights is packed into each inkwell. We used an glass Bortoletti pen from Italy and tried writing with Harbor Sky ink, a color sold only at the Brick Warehouse.
Once you put the tip of the colorful and delicate glass pen in the inkwell, the ink rises up and is sucked in.
Clear blue ink flowed smoothly from the tip of the pen. This color was developed with the blue skies above Harborland in mind. It creates a pretty contrast with the intertwining red and yellow colors of the pen.
Harbor Sky costs1,800 yen before tax. The glass pen costs 6,700 yen before tax.
This fountain pen was developed in conjunction with famous fountain pen manufacturer, Sailor. An illustration of the Brick Warehouse is inscribed on it.
There are also many fountain pens in the store. While it’s becoming less necessary to handwrite messages these days, Ms. Nagai says she hopes people will discover how interesting fountain pens are.
She noted, "They get your hands dirty and need to be maintained. They’re a bit annoying to take care of as well. However, that’s exactly why they are so interesting."
You can choose from a variety of ink, and the more you write with one, the more the pen becomes like an extension of your hand. How about buying some ink from Kobe INK Monogatari and trying out writing with a fountain pen?
Treat Yourself to High Quality Stationery
Nagasawa carries unusual original products as well. You can use these items to upgrade the stationery items you use normally. Counterclockwise from the upper-left are authentic leather eraser jackets (1,200 yen before tax), a glue stick cover made of brass (4,300 yen before tax), a brass case for correction tape (1,850 yen before tax), and a ceramic stapler (2,600 yen before tax).
When you hold one of these items in your hand, you will feel their weight and high quality. Perhaps there’s no need to use such high-quality materials, but you can add some flair to your everyday routine by paying attention to the stationery you use. These items change color as you use them, giving them a vintage charm.
Miniature Stationery and Unique Lights
Next, let’s look at products that aren’t necessarily original, but are quite unique. These look like Converse sneakers, but they’re actually erasers the size of your thumb (380 yen before tax)!
The logo, outer sole and shoebox have been faithfully reproduced with fine craftsmanship. You can also use it as a cute decoration for your room if you don't want to use it as a regular eraser.
If you are looking for something around the same size, how about these colored pencils? The case is about the same size as a credit card and contains 12 pencils (450 yen before tax). They come with a special eraser and sharpener, and are made at the same factory for regular colored pencils by the brand Nakabayashi, so they are high quality. It might be somewhat wasteful to use these normally as well!
This looks like a delicious baked croissant, but turn off the lights and flip the switch, and...
It’s a light! This was actually made using real bread. Kobe-based artist Yukiko Morita loves bread and started working on this because she wanted to keep bread nearby. The light is made of bread from the famous French bakery Bigot in Kobe. The bread is hollowed out and dried through a special process, then given a full lacquer coating. Nagasawa also has miniature boule and coupe varieties, among other types of bread (the croissant is 6,400 yen before tax).
Enjoy Unique, One-of-a-Kind Products
We’ve only shown you a fraction of what Nagasawa has on its shelves. Many regular customers come often to see which interesting stationery is available. When we went a wide variety of customers, including families and tourists dropped by.
The employees, including Ms. Nagai, all love stationery. They each go to artists' galleries and exhibits to purchase pieces. In addition to the original products at Nagasawa, there many pieces from Kobe artists, radiating good taste and individuality.
Ms. Nagai didn’t want to appear on-camera, but she gave us a coaster of her likeness that a loyal customer kindly made for her.
While we were talking to Ms. Nagai, she was suddenly stopped by a customer who called her out for a game of rock-paper-scissors. Since she had become manager recently, they were running a special campaign where customers could win double points on their point cards by beating her at rock-paper-scissors. The playful atmosphere at Nagasawa is created by the employees' passion and ideas.
*The campaign is over.
Ms. Nagai said, “We don’t have products you can find just anywhere. I hope that people will come, browse around, and enjoy themselves.”
Two hours had passed by the time we noticed how long we were in the store. You can feel the craftspeoples’ touches and their stories in all of Nagasawa’s products. It’s so interesting that it might be worth making a trip to Kobe just to drop into this fascinating stationery store.
A Stunning Night View
When we left the building, it was totally dark outside. The Brick Warehouse is illuminated after sunset, creating a romantic scene.
Head home as you enjoy the night in Kobe, chosen as having one of the top three views in Japan.
Create Memories in Kobe at the Brick Warehouse
In addition to the places in this article, the Brick Warehouse is home to specialty pasta restaurants, cafes, Japanese furniture stores, and shop selling everyday-use items. Port Tower, a Kobe landmark, is close as well, and it’s one or two train stops away from the central areas of Sannomiya and Motomachi.
The Kobe Brick Warehouse has history etched into each brick. Inside you can discover products created with special care and affection and buy them for yourself. We hope you visit and spend some time in this unique facility.
In cooperation with Goodays Department, Nagasawa Kobe Brick Warehouse branch
Photos provided by: Kobe Brick Warehouse