Nagasaki, lying on the northwest of Kyushu is renowned for both its global outlook and profound connection to its rich and cultured history. A dichotomy of sorts, it embraces internationalism alongside tradition and customs. It’s no real surprise, then, that the prefecture has a diverse spectrum of cafés which encompass and encapsulate this charming duality. TW picks four of the best spaces in Nagasaki for you to explore, relax and get to know its people and distinctive cultural climate.
If you’re a fan of the outdoors and communing with nature then the curiously named Kissa Branch is definitely for you. Essentially a tea and dried flower space, it stands within beautiful and tranquil woods, Kaze no Mori, which makes it perfect for relaxing and enjoying the peacefulness that a visit to Nagasaki affords.
Focused on tea, there is a spectrum of teas available here, some with vibrant colors and delicate aromas. If you opt to take your drink outside onto the deck space, you can hear the sound of the wind and the audible frisson caused when the wind makes contact with the trees and leaves.
The café is very proud of its connection with seasonality with the sweets menu changing every few months to reflect the change in produce available. An example of this can be found in the use of ogura, matcha, walnut and marron for the monaka (Japanese confectionery that consists of adzuki bean paste sandwiched between two thin wafers). Fresh and seasonal fruits are also used for the location’s renowned fruit punch which is a specialty of the café.
Run by a former firefighter who had a dream of opening his own café with his wife in a beautiful setting, Kissa Branch which only opened in September 2021, is a space for spirituality, peacefulness and a chance to connect more with nature and enjoy the carefully crafted dishes and drinks.
67-4 Moriyamacho Karakokita, Isahaya
Closed: Wednesday, Sunday and public holidays
With an abundance of the purest and cleanest water available on your doorstep it’s no wonder Hayamegawa has become a much loved institution in Nagasaki. Dishes are prepared using fresh spring water from 110 meters under the establishment and a river which sits in front of the building. Due to this ripe and ideal environment, an array of interesting organisms and creatures can be found growing there including freshwater crabs, snails and other varieties of water creatures that grow naturally to form a thriving biotope.
The building that houses Hayamegawa was designated as a national registered tangible property in 2003 which makes eating there a little bit more special. The menu, unsurprisingly, utilizes local ingredients which include vegetables, meat and fish. Located in the beautiful nature of the Shimabara Peninsula by a team who wish and hope that visitors will be touched by the experience of such harmony and tranquility.
912 Uenomachi, Shimabara
Closed: Every Wednesday, third Thursday and various public holidays
With a history of internationalism and global awareness, JUNE COFFEE reflects this cosmopolitan essence with a touch of France in the Azemachi district of Nagasaki. The owner has had a lifelong love affair with France and has traveled there in addition to training at the renowned culinary school Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo. Specializing in sweets and bread they later returned to Europe and worked as a pastry chef in Paris.
All these experiences led up to the opening of JUNE COFFEE in July 2021 which has already cemented a vibrant reputation for its croissant and sublime pain au chocolat. Adding to this enviable CV is a barista qualification from time spent in Australia which is why JUNE COFFEE makes its own coffee beans which are an original blend roasted in-house to complement the exquisite bread.
As a specialty store for bread, desserts and coffee, JUNE COFFEE is a subtle and modern space which makes the most of its seaside views and chic French vibe which makes it a must-visit when next in Nagasaki Prefecture.
1192-1 Azemachi, Nagasaki city
Situated in Ono Village which is classified as a world cultural heritage “Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki and Amakusa Region,” Café OZIMOC is a space which wears history and culture on its sleeves. The historical structure, a careful harmony of stone, bamboo and timber, which was painstakingly renovated and reconstructed over 13 years by the owner, recreates a peaceful and reverential ambiance which is ideal for relaxing and soaking in Nagasaki’s charming atmosphere.
With an array of light meals and desserts, and drinks such as home-roasted coffee, Café OZIMOC also has some beautiful views on offer. The space is also used for handicraft workshops and acts as a communal tryst, a place to meet like-minded people and enjoy the stunning nature.
It’s not really conveniently located and could be classified as a destination location, but it’s well worth the journey, a journey into the heart and soul of Nagasaki.
2542 Shimoonomachi, Nagasaki city
Closed: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday