Saturday, May 2, 2015

Maruya Cafe - Think Outside the Box for Tropical Chillout

They say good things come in small packages, but I have to admit I have passed Maruya Cafe hundreds of times without stopping because it was raining and I didn't realize there is indoor counter seating. Well, I finally stopped by, and I have to say, the owner has managed to pack a lot into this little establishment.

The menu is surprisingly extensive, and the owner is happy to accommodate requests if he can. For example, the menu changes from winter to summer, and he's added a pasta lunch in addition to hotdogs and snack foods. This place is jut as much a stylish little bar as it is a cafe. You can eat in or order to go, and if you make a reservation, you can even have a barbeque on the patio. The owner does not speak much English, but he's done his best to translate the menu for foreign visitors.

I was drawn to the sign describing Hawaiian Iced Coffee and . . . oh dear. I could go on for paragraphs about this cold, sweet, creamy, frothy blend. Unlike your typical (fill-in-the-name-of-a-chain-cofee-shop) iced coffee that's mostly crushed ice, this drink was worth the price-tag. Underneath the layer of froth and coffee, at the very bottom, is a layer of sweet condensed milk. Give it a little whisk and you have heaven in a glass.

So enough about my new energy drink! The interior is cozy, but cozy like home, not cozy like the Tokyo Metro. Take off your shoes at the entrance and leave the grit of daily life outside. The wide counter separates the dining area from the kitchen nicely, and, in this tight space, you'll probably appreciate the fact that the bathroom is outside.

This section of Kusugawa isn't a big stop for tourists, although many people pass through when traveling bewteen Miyanoura and Anbo. And just a couple minutes up the street from Maruya Cafe is Yawaraka, the forest fragrance factory that immerses visitors in calm. So if you're looking for a little time out from the tribulations of hiking in Yakushima, be careful not to overlook this town.

Maruya Cafe
Location: Kusugawa 1473-72 (30.40388,130.6181). Makinogawa or Shimomakino bus stop.
Hours: Thursday~Monday, 10am to 5pm.*

*Hours are subject to change, so please call the restaurant or check ahead.

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