Hiroshima’s coffee scene has grown significantly in recent times, with its rising number of independent cafés and the introduction of an annual city-wide latte art competition. Discover the best cafés in Hiroshima by exploring the city’s hipster roasteries, Japanese tearooms and independent artisan coffee shops.
In a country where tiny apartments are the norm, Japanese cafés serve as a kind of extended living room, where you’re just as likely to spot high-school students doing their homework as groups of friends hanging out. Although big chains such as Starbucks do exist in Japan, most cafés are independently owned and so the atmosphere, theme and menu will vary depending on where you visit.
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Some tips to keep in mind when visiting Japanese cafés are that meal service, if offered, will usually only be served between set hours, such as midday to 2.30pm, so you should check this in advance if the purpose of your visit is to enjoy a meal alongside your coffee. Another thing to bear in mind is that many of the more traditional-style cafés, known as kissaten in Japanese, still have smoking sections, so be sure to ask for a non-smoking seat if this bothers you.
Just a three-minute walk from Hiroshima Station’s south exit, Aki Café is attached to a guesthouse, so you’ll find the crowd here tends to be a mix of Hiroshima residents and international visitors. The building that houses Aki Café was renovated in 2019 to reveal a bright, airy space featuring wooden counters and cutlery, with cactuses adding a touch of greenery to the interior. Aki Café serves breakfast from 8am to 11am, featuring wallet-friendly plates such as toast (a popular café snack in Japan) and coffee sets for just ¥600 (£4.50). Aki Café’s lunch hours run from 11am to 4pm and original lunchtime dishes include omelette sandwiches or sautéed mushrooms with avocado and hummus. The café also has vegan and gluten-free options making it a safe choice for anyone with dietary requirements. Outside of regular meal-service, a selection of home-made cakes are on display to tempt you into an afternoon sugar-rush.
Whether to try their espresso or hand-drip coffee, coffee aficionados should pay a visit to Obscura Coffee Roasters, who currently operate two stores in Hiroshima. The company was started by a group of Hiroshima locals, and the original store is located in Fukuromachi, while the second one is on the main Hondori high street. Open from 9am until 8pm, patrons can expect a quiet atmosphere in the sleek, minimalist interior in Fukoromachi (especially as children under 10 are not allowed). Outdoor seating is also available on days when the weather is good. Customers can purchase in-store roasted coffee beans to take home, and baked goods such as scones are usually available to purchase.
Situated close to Hiroshima’s Peace Park, Social Book Café is an ideal spot to rest after visiting the city’s Peace Memorial Museum. The café’s second-floor location above a hair salon makes it a bit of a hidden gem. As you settle in for coffee and a curry, you’ll find yourself surrounded by stacks of books that owner Erika has collected, and customers can also try their hand at grinding their own coffee beans. Social Book Café is a particularly cosy spot during the winter, where Japanese kotastu tables are available to hibernate under – these are tables with electric heaters built-in, covered by thick blankets. A warning to first-time users: once you get under the kotatsu it’s almost impossible to leave. Another highlight of Social Book Café are their regularly organised events where visitors can talk in English with A-Bomb survivors about their experiences.
For lunch-time dining with a difference, a visit to Chano-Ma is in order. The Hiroshima branch of this chain is situated just off the main Hondori high street and is a popular date spot – perhaps because customers dine on beds instead of regular tables. Open from 11.30am until midnight, the lunch and dinner menus are seasonal and change from month to month. You can expect to find a mix of Japanese rice-based meals and Western-style pasta dishes, in addition to a substantial selection of desserts. Make sure you’re wearing your best socks upon entry as you’ll need to take your shoes off to go inside.
Akushu, meaning handshake in Japanese, is a modern café with chrome stools and concrete-topped tables inside and stylish wooden benches out front, located near the Peace Memorial Park, inside the Orizuru Tower. Food is the big focus at this park-side diner, and coffee is provided by Obscura Coffee. Akushu’s lunch and dinner menus feature a wide range of dishes with a local twist, such as their okonomiyaki wraps and Setouchi fish and chips, made from fish caught fresh from the nearby Inland Sea. The café is open all day from 10am until at least 5pm (some days it is open as late as 9pm), and during the evenings there are also local sakes available to try.
A cute harbour-side café and chocolate shop with terrace seating and sea views in the south of Hiroshima city, Rit.craft is owned by an English-speaking Japanese couple. The shop features bean-to-bar chocolate that almost looks too good to eat, and local roastery Cradle Coffee provides the coffee beans. Exclusively chocolate-themed, the menu features items such as soft ice cream, brownies and chocolate cassette tapes that come in real cassette cases, which make for excellent gifts. You can also sample imported cacao from countries such as Belize, Costa Rica and Colombia. Be aware that the café is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
For a bit of art with your coffee, check out Progress Life Style Coffee, a stylish coffee shop situated in downtown Hiroshima that specialises in latte art. The warmly-lit café, which is decorated with chalk-art and dried flower arrangements, played host to Hiroshima’s first annual latte art competition, where baristas from around the city compete to make the most Instagram-worthy beverages. The flavoured lattes at Progress include caramel, matcha, vanilla and chocolate. In addition to their intricately designed lattes, the two-storey café serves a lunch menu that includes sandwiches, salads and pasta, along with desserts and cake sets. Progress Life Style Coffee is closed on Tuesdays.
To experience a traditional, old-school Japanese kissaten, head to Café Saeki, with its dark-wood antique furniture and relaxed atmosphere. A family-run establishment with a retro vibe, Kissa Saeki has been operating since 1977, and has stayed popular despite the onslaught of chain cafés and hipster roasteries opening up in the area. These days Kissa Saeki bills itself as an organic café, serving local produce and a large range of vegan lunch sets, which include lentil hamburgers and vegan curries. The café’s desserts are particularly popular, with their fruit parfaits often selling out. Kissa Saeki is closed on Sundays.
Engawa is a spacious café and Japanese tearoom located in the south of Hiroshima city. The café is proud of their tea selection, which features leaves picked from the surrounding Setouchi area. Tea sets are available from ¥1,000 (£7.40) each and are served in cast-iron teapots accompanied by wagashi (Japanese confectionary). The café’s interior blends modern design with traditional Japanese features such as bamboo fittings and tatami floor rooms. Adjoining the café is a gift shop selling homeware items including vases, leather goods and tea leaves. An important point to note is that, unusually for Japan, this café does not accept payment by cash, but credit card and electronic payments only.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Christine Bagarino.
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