Skip to main content

In Which I Solve a Riddle and (Sort Of) Fake Being a Pro

So it's finally my second weekend here. I've rounded off my week with nine cafes and enough coffee that yesterday evening I actually felt sick and have decided to take day or two break. Fortunately most of these places have other drinks besides coffee, so now that I've tried it once I can give my stomach lining a break. To all you people who drink multiple cups of coffee daily: I don't know how you do it.

Moving on.

On Thursday and Friday I went to several interesting places. On Thursday I went to Nazoya Cafe, which loosely translates to "Mystery Cafe". It's so-named because the owner is a self-proclaimed lover of mystery novels, and not only are his foods mystery-themed (for example, he serves a "Miss Marple Maple Waffle") if you order a dessert, he'll give you a riddle to solve. Customers who eventually solve all 20 questions (you have to order 20 desserts though) are given a golden certificate that proclaims them a "Meitantei" or "Great Detective".

Of course I had to try this. I ordered a chocolate cake (called the "Black Trunk" which I assume is a reference to the Chinatown Black Trunk Mystery?) and with the cake was also delivered this riddle:



The goal is to figure out what belongs in the ?. I solved it (and sent it to my boyfriend and brother who also solved it). Anyone reading this blog who wants a hint (and who knows me), feel free to message me on facebook or text or whatnot and I'll tell you.

I suppose I should also talk about Nazoya Cafe's coffee as well. The owner had one interesting item: a machine for making cold-drip iced coffee.


Cold water is poured into the top sphere and over the course of eight hours drips through the glass spirals, through the grounds, and finally into two pots at the bottom (and to be completely honest it reminded me of an IV drip). Making iced coffee this way is supposed to make it sweeter and smoother to drink. The owner makes it every day, chills it more overnight, and then serves it the next day.


There's a closeup.


The next day (yesterday) I went to Katsura Coffee, a shop I read about in a Clubism (their July issue had an entire special on coffee shops in Ishikawa Prefecture so I promptly bought a copy). Even though I had the address, I had a ridiculously hard time finding it. I must have walked up and down the street several times before I spotted the correct sign:


The shop is a small six-stool room on the second floor, up those narrow, dark, creepy stairs. Do you blame me for missing it initially?

The shop is run by 77-year old Sakaguchi-san who opens the shop every single day without fail from 1-6pm. He doesn't have a menu. Instead, when you walk in and sit down, he asks you what sort of coffee you want. All I can say is that it's a good thing I've spent the last week being educated on types of beans and bitter versus sour/fruity coffee--I was able to say exactly what I wanted, and I even think he was a little impressed when he asked if he could make it a little stronger and I said ok (apparently strong German/Dutch coffee is best, and typical Americans drink this nasty weak stuff).



His shop is filled with antique machines: a 1960s bean grinder from America (pictured above), and others from German and Sweden from the same period. He can do all the machine maintenance himself--as well as taste a cup of coffee and identify every single type of bean used in the blend. To him, that independence is what defines a "pro". Looks like I have a way to go.

So day I took the day off from research. My host mom and I dropped my host dad off at the Komatsu airport (an hour's drive each way) because he's going to the Netherlands for a business trip, and then we took a brief detour to walk through the Kanazawa rose garden:




Tomorrow I'm planning to go to the Seseragi Sunday Market which has a variety of fun vendors and maybe go for a run by the river (keep myself active). Then on Monday everything starts again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.

Co…