I had a most wonderful outing last week on Thursday. I needed to go to Kyoto to pick up my blouse from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. I had forgotten my passport last time, which meant I couldn't buy it tax free. I contacted one of my Lolita friends in Kyoto who said she could meet up so my Lolita date was set.
We decided to meet at a cafe called Café du Thé François in Shijo Kawaramachi so I chose to wear Angelic Pretty's Wonder Party to match the cafe theme. I matched it with off-white accessories including a beret from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. Rest Room Selfie, anyone?
I wore a wig for the first time in ages to cut down on hair styling time. The wig is from Gothic Lolita Wigs and its definitely my favourite. This blonde doesn't make me look washed out and the hair style is cute but elegant. The reason for leaving early being is that I had to head off early to buy some Japanese sweets as souvenirs before meeting up with my friend.
Buying Mochi at Futaba
The sweets shop I went to is called Futaba and is situated in Demachi Anagi. It's already quite well known for Mame-mochi but I was there to buy the Sakura Mochi! It's readily available during the cherry blossom season and is a gorgeous glossy pink colour wrapped in a Sakura leaf. Sakura is a slightly strange sweet leafy taste and with the leaf being salty and the mochi being sweet it quite an interesting sweet to eat. I didn't like it the first few times I ate it, particularly the leaf but with the mochi being recently advertised on the T.V. with high recommendations I didn't want to miss the opportunity to try it again.
When it comes to popular foods, in my experience, the Japanese have a different way of thinking to what I've seen in Australia. Firstly, Australians seem to be less enthusiastic about something simply because it's introduced as popular and on top of that most Australians seem to avoid waiting in long lines. Conversely, it seems that the Japanese are happy to line up in order to get something that's been advertised as it means they are sure to get a good product at the end. This certainly seemed to be the case at Futaba as the line curled around three times in front of the shop. There was a person outside the shop reminding people to keep moving forward and that the wait was around 20 minutes. They were also there to stop the line from moving too far over on the path.
There were so many people and I didn't want to be late for my date so I didn't stop to take photos except for this one above. The line moved quickly and smoothly. Before long I was at the front of the line and my order was taken, the mochi was placed in a plastic pack, wrapped and handed to me in a bag. With my souvenirs in my hand, I walked to the bus stop to head to the cafe.
The Cafe and Kamogawa
I arrived at Shijo Kawaramachi bus-stop an hour before I was scheduled to meet with my friend. It gave me a chance to look around and take some pictures of the newly bloomed Sakura.
The cafe is situated on Kiyamachi Street is a beautiful street with Kamogawa River running beside it and Sakura running down each side. In the Edo period (around the 18th century) many traditional style cafes, restaurants and bars were built to entertain the travellers who would come to the area. Today, the area is still a place for travellers to come to eat, drink and be entertained, however many of them are foreign travellers, like myself. Many of the places have a traditional shop front and some are even award winning gourmet restaurants.
I also took a few snaps of Café du Thé François complete with poodle.
History of Café du Thé François
Café du Thé François was listed as Registered Tangible Cultural Property in 2002. While it was originally a machiya, a Japanese townhouse for merchants or craftsmen, the shop was opened by Shōichi Tatemoto in the 1934 with the building redesigned into a western-style cafe with a design to reflect the spirit of enlightenment through socialism and art. The name of the cafe is a nod to painter Jean-Francois Millet. In 1937, during the second Sino-Japanese war, Tatemoto was jailed for anti-war activities, which included raising money for the Japanese communist party and distributing anti-Facist publications. After his time in jail Tatemoto had the interior re-designed by an Italian architect friend, Alexsandro Bencivenni, who himself had run away from Facist Italy. The interior was designed to resemble an ocean liner travelling between Europe and Asia and is a mix of 17th century Italian Baroque and Renaissance in style. The cafe kept running through the Pacific War when it was re-named Miyako Sabo (Kyoto Tea house) due to the law not allowing the use of enemy languages. Bencivenni, who refused to swear allegiance to the Italian Socialist Republic when the alliance was decided, was even sent to a prisoner camp in Nagoya for two years. The shop eventually closed in 1944 due to food shortages. The shop was re-opened in 2002 with the instatement of it's new status and is now run by the owner's three children.
I didn't take many pictures of the rest of the day but safe to say my friend and I had a great time, which included ordering matching Maple cake and coffee with cream set. It was absolutely delicious and ended up being my lunch. In between I went to buy the blouse and we moved to cafe number two to enjoy a coffee float chatting until 6pm. We promised to get together again in Kyoto as soon as we could manage. It really was a wonderful day.