One of my first tasks as an intern was to travel to Kyoto to visit the Obubu cafe in one of Kyoto’s largest department stores, Daimaru. Daimaru in downtown Kyoto was opened in 1912 and easily rivals Macy’s or Selfridges, in size and variety.
At first I was a little overwhelmed by the prospect of travelling to Kyoto on my fifth day of being in Japan, especially with only having basic Japanese. However, after a colleague drew me a foolproof map, I felt confident. In fact, travelling from Wazuka to Kyoto was far more simple than I expected; even in the countryside most train stations have directions written in both English and Japanese. I was impressed at how clean and regular the trains were and before I knew it, I was at Kyoto’s Shijo subway station.
Daimaru has an underground entrance from the subway passage (exit 18) making it incredibly easy to find, but if in doubt you can always ask any of the station attendants ‘Daimaru wa doko deska?’ and they’ll point you in the right direction. The entrance will take you straight into the food court, and If you turn right and you’ll find our cafe.
The café is run by Hayato and Shota, who have both worked in Wazuka harvesting the tea, thus are experts in understanding how the tea is made. While I was there I drank a delicious genmaicha, but there’s a variety of teas to choose from. Traditional Japanese sweets are also on offer, which perfectly compliment the tea. Shota is fluent in both Japanese and English, so was able to explain to me how to perfectly brew the tea, using a Japanese tea pot known as a kyusu.
Despite being in such a busy food court, the Obubu café is tucked into a cosy corner and manages to have a great atmosphere, where you can come and relax while learning about tea. I would highly recommend anyone coming to Kyoto to check out Daimaru, since it’s a great place to buy uniquely Japanese gifts, and while you’re there, pop into the Obubu café and taste some great tea.
The café is open 4pm to 8pm and closed on Tuesdays.