A trip to the heart of coffee culture in Takarazuka City
Takarazuka is hot these days as a city of coffee. Recently we had the pleasure of visiting the three local shops run by young female roasters who form the TAKARAZUKA GIRLS ROASTER, a cooperative striving to keep Takarazuka’s coffee culture piping hot!
First, I headed to COFFEE STAND Wily, a great place to take a break on the road to Kiyoshikojin Seichoji Temple from the nearest train stop, Kiyoshikojin Station. Relocated and opened in June 2022, this new store is in a renovated historic row house built more than 50 years ago. The wide open interior filled with music is an ideal place to relax while watching the steady stream of people passing by the window.
Ms. Hanayama, the store manager, was originally a designer. Seeing the number of visitors to the temple gradually decline, she started to wonder if she might be able to create something fun for her childhood stomping grounds. Then, while studying café management, she became fascinated with roasting and finally became a roast master.
“Beyond the temples here, the area has a majestic environment of mountains and rivers,” Ms. Hanayama said. “I hope younger generations can get to know these natural wonders and I’d like to keep the good old days of Kiyoshikojin alive.”
Workshops to experience the art of “hand-roasting” are also featured at the shop. Simple English-language lectures also make it enjoyable for overseas visitors. Be sure to try the Cake Set, where you can choose from three kinds of sweets. You will also enjoy the choice among the six types of beans from different regions. In the summer, the top choice has to be the gelato topped with coffee, the Affogato Latte.
Store name: COFFEE STAND Wily
Business hours: 11:00–17:00
Closed: Every Wednesday and 4th Thursday of each month
Address: 3-2-9 Kiyoshikojin, Takarazuka City
Access: 5-minute walk from Hankyu Kiyoshikojin Station
Workshop reservations available through the website
Next, we visited SHIZUKU COFFEE ROASTER, opened in 2014. Just five minutes from the Takarazuka Grand Theater, the café is a favorite among both Takarazuka fans and their beloved performers known as “Takarasienne.” The low-lit interior carries an air of maturity and sophistication, with an area dedicated to posters and photographs of the Takarazuka Revue, including a lovely picture of a cute bear drawn by a former Takarasienne.
The café owner and founder of the Takarazuka Coffee Association, Mr. Asano, once worked for an overseas fashion brand. However, inspired by memories of foreign sailors who once visited his grandmother’s café bar in Kobe, he also yearned to create a space where people from around the world could come together to exchange ideas, and seized the chance to make his dream come true on this road. Inheriting the same feeling, his daughter is also on the path to become a roaster.
We recommend the daily “Specialty Coffee.” Specialty Coffee is a precisely defined type of coffee bean that has scored 80 points or more in the world standard Q grade taste test, approximated as the top 5% of the world’s coffee beans. Although gradually gaining popularity in Japan, there are still few such specialty coffee shops. French toast is also a popular choice at the café.
Ms. Asano gave us some recommendations around town. “Just browsing the souvenir shop at the Takarazuka Grand Theater provides a sense of the world of the opera troupe,” she told us. “The flower path in front of the theater is also famous for springtime cherry blossoms.” How about stopping by for a coffee break while strolling around the city?
Finally, I came to the shop called TOBERA, a 10-minute walk from Obayashi Station, three stops from Takarazuka Station on the Hankyu Imazu Line. The fetching exterior catches the eye amid the residential neighborhood. The name “TOBERA” comes from the Japanese word for door “tobira,” conveying the concept that the café may be a gateway to the enjoyment of coffee.
Ms. Morikawa, the store roaster and manager, had long dreamed of opening a café. While in high school, she worked part-time at Yuri Coffee Shop, a pioneer of home-roasted coffee shops in Takarazuka City. Seeing her enthusiasm for the brew, Yuri Coffee Shop’s owner invited Ms. Morikawa to open a sister store, which eventually became TOBERA and opened in March 2021. “Having a coffee professional help set up the store was a great support” Ms. Morikawa remembers.
The hot coffee brewed with lightly roasted coffee beans stands out. The equipment used for extraction, called “Tatamiori,” is from the famous manufacturing town of Tsubame Sanjo in Niigata Prefecture. Seasonal parfaits and dog-shaped cookies are both sweet and cute. The coffee cheesecake is not to be missed!
“It’s a little far from Takarazuka, but it’s a warm place where people from the neighborhood often stop by.” Near the shop is “Ino Town,” a complex made from traditional row houses with six shops including interior goods shops and bookstores. A great place to spend some time while exploring the area.
Store name: TOBERA
Business hours: 10:00–17:00 (opens at 8:00 on Sundays only)
Closed: Mondays, national holidays
Address: 2-17-10 Takatsukasa, Takarazuka City
Access: 15-minute walk from Hankyu Obayashi Station
So, what do you think? Hopefully, you’ll want to stop by and experience the distinct coffee culture of each shop! The passionate members of TAKARAZUKA GIRLS ROASTER are taking action to share the pleasure of coffee roasting among today’s generation, causing a stir not only among the locals, but also among coffee lovers beyond the borders of Takarazuka City.
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