Mt. Fuji is known throughout the world. Nestled at its northern foot is Lake Kawaguchi (aka Kawaguchiko) which is visited by sightseers throughout the year. The many cafes in the area are great places to relax and enjoy the scenery. In this article we introduce two cafes noted for their individual charm and character: one that boasts its third-wave coffee, another that has a bread studio offering a magnificent view, and third fashionable café that sells assorted sundries.
Lake Kawaguchi has a Number of Sightseeing Spots Offering Grand Views
Lake Kawaguchi is one of five lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji and is the second farthest north of them. It is also one of the first to areas to develop tourism drawing sightseers because of its proximity to Fuji-Q Highland and also because it is the site of many popular tourist attractions such as museums and hot springs.
There are many ways to enjoy a visit to Lake Kawaguchi: strolling around the shoreline, water activities, and partaking of the exhilarating views of Mt. Fuji. There are of course a number of wonderful cafes in the area, too.
Cisco Coffee brings to Lake Kawaguchi the Atmosphere of San Francisco
Cisco Coffee is located near the Lake Kawaguchi Muse Museum Entrance Stop of the Fujikyu Yamanashi Bus Line and about 10 minutes by car from the Lake Kawaguchi IC of the Chuo Expressway.
The owner, enamored with the atmosphere of San Francisco, opened the shop specializing in third wave coffee in 2014. The casual mood of the café is not only popular with local residents, but also with a large number of foreign visitors.
Third wave coffee culture got its start on the West Coast of America. It literally takes its name from the fact that it is the third wave of coffee booms that began with the first wave that began with the world recognition of instant coffees (latter half of the 19th century to the 1960s) which was followed by the second wave of Seattle-based coffee chains popular for their coffee arrangements such as café au lait and macchiato (1960s to the 1990s), and then a new coffee culture trend called the third wave.
The popularity of third wave coffee began in America in the 1990s but it was not until 2015 when it finally began to appear in Japan. The opening of this coffee shop in 2014, a year earlier, was the harbinger of that movement.
The clean design of the interior with its balanced use of wood, retro furniture and tastefully placed greenery, all brightened by sun streaming in through the windows, creates a relaxing atmosphere that emulates the bright, clean easy-going image of the West Coast.
Now it’s time to taste that much-talked-about third wave coffee. On the day we visited, the owner Risa Miyashita brewed some for us.
Ms. Miyashita explained, “The most important aspect of third wave coffee is not the blend of high-quality beans, but savoring the flavor of beans of a single origin. Here we make each cup by grinding carefully selected San Francisco beans enough for one cup and then slowly brew the cup by the hand-drip method.”
Of the five types offered, we selected the standard Peruvian Organic. As hot water is slowly poured over the just-milled coffee, it produces a fine aroma, which together with the carefully brewed coffee, delights the sense and creates a relaxing mood.
The unique quality of the Peruvian Organic is evident after one sip: it is mild and leaves a clean aftertaste. Despite being organic, it is not obtrusive, but very easy to drink. The best way to enjoy the delicious flavor of third wave coffee is to have it milled and brewed by dripping just before drinking it.
You can double the pleasure of hand-dripped coffee with a latte, made with your choice of either milk or soy milk. It is the perfect blend of the solid flavor of the coffee with the rich flavor of the milk! The heart design on the top is also a nice touch.
We also tried the seasonal selection Banana Cream. The sweet aroma of bananas hits you when you bring the cup towards your lips. Yet, the strong slightly bitter flavor of the coffee prevails and only a slight scent of banana lingers afterwards. Other seasonal favorites are Chocolate Raspberry, Caramel Cream, and Hazelnut.
You can also enjoy lunch at Cisco Coffee. There are three types from which to choose. The shop recommends its Union Street Sandwich (ham and cheese).
The grilled ham and cheese sandwich comes on a large plate. The sandwich is lightly dusted with powdered sugar and then maple syrup, which goes well with the ham and cheese. It also comes with spicy, garlic-flavored fried potatoes. The other two selections are Spam and Egg Focaccia and Cornmeal Waffle.
Visit Cisco Coffee to experience delicious hand-dripped third-wave coffee freshly brewed in a West Coast atmosphere.
Cisco CoffeeCisco Coffee
- Address 〒401-0302 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町小立927-1 / 927-1 Kodachi, Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi-ken, 4010302, Japan
- Phone Number 0555-73-4187
Hours：9:30 - 17:00 (L.O. 16:00)
The Lake Bake Café Where Customers Line Up for its Breads
Head north after crossing over the Lake Kawaguchi Ohashi bridge and after a 5-minute car ride on the Kohoku View Line you will come to the Oishi Park. The relaxing Lake Bake Café is located next to it.
Eager customers line up days in advance before the bakery opens. Prior to becoming a bakery this was a soba shop. It is unique because the Japanese style was retained. Inside the shop there is a corner selling its bread products and also a café space where you can sit and eat delicious items from the café menu.
This shop offers 50 varieties of bread every day. When we arrived around one in the afternoon, most of the bread had already been sold out. However, during the next ten to fifteen minutes bread was freshly being baked, so we leisurely waited for it to be displayed. Let’s begin by introducing the owner, Mr. Yokomizo.
First of all, the shop is proud of its “aged” bread. Hard breads that use whole grain flour are loaded with lots of raisins and walnuts.
The outer crust is firm while the inside of these hard breads is soft and moist. According to Mr. Yokomizo, “they are delicious when sliced thinly and spread with butter or cream cheese.” They have a sweet and faintly acidic rich flavor that goes especially well with wine.
The “Marugoto Jaga Butter” is as its name suggests made with one whole potato and despite its size and hard crust, has a delicate, fluffy texture perfectly balanced by the rich flavor of butter, mayonnaise, and a touch of mustard.
The third item we sampled was the sweetly flavored and moist scone. It comes in assorted flavors such as plain, chocolate, raisin, matcha, and black beans. In spring there is a pickled cherry scone, a blue berry scone in summer, pumpkin and apple in autumn, and in winter dried fig.
There are many other popular types as well such as the horseshoe-shaped Nuts Chocola, the delicately sweet Brioche Melon Bread, and the slightly salty Western Style Vegetable Focaccia.
Mr. Yokomizo says, “The breads are made with 80% homemade natural yeast and 20% yeast that matches the character of the individual bread. Other ingredients are butter, and both domestic and foreign made flour. Care is given to temperature and humidity to ensure that the qualities of each bread deliver maximum flavor.”
Each type of bread has a unique texture and flavor that can be enjoyed from the first to the last bite.
These freshly baked products are best enjoyed on the café terrace at the back of the shop which presents a commanding view of Mt. Fuji across the broad Lake Kawaguchi.
The open terrace also offers an excellent view!
A vast, unmarred panorama spreads as far as the eye can see on the terrace seats where the freshly baked bread is best savored. By the way, if you’re not opting for to-go but instead relax in the eat-in space, there’s a system in place that requires you to order one item from the café menu per person with each purchased bread. We went with the particularly popular Minestrone soup.
The combination of the unmistakable aroma of freshly baked bread and the refreshing sourness of tomato is further enhanced by stunning scenery right in front of you. Allow yourself to forget time for a while and leave all your cares behind, simply savoring both the food and the view.
Sitting on the terrace and having a big bite of fresh bread – it might not seem special, nothing particularly unique or out of the ordinary. However, the beautiful Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi elevate this seemingly simple snack time to a one-of-a-kind experience.
- Address 〒401-0305 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町大石2585-85 / 2585-85 Ōishi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 4010305, Japan
- Phone Number 0555-76-7585
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (bread sold until 5:00 p.m.)
Closed: Wednesdays, every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month
Glamorous Coffee Break: Forgetting Time in a Fancy, Sophisticated Café
Last but not least, we head over to café troisieme marche, a 5-minute car drive away from Lake Bake.
This café is loved for its hideaway-like atmosphere and stylish design, in a calm location that is some distance away from Lake Kawaguchi. Furthermore, a little shop handles a variety of stylish miscellaneous goods.
The adorable, almost fairytale-like exterior never fails to pique the curiosity of those who stop by, and as soon as you open the door to the café, it’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a rustic little grocery store in the French countryside.
Plenty of greenery and dried flowers adorn the café alongside antique items and vintage furniture, creating a very natural atmosphere in which time seems to flow a lot slower.
“It all started with the ‘moving marché,’ and the foundation of this place are the three pillars of café, miscellaneous goods, and apparel. We wanted to create a space where people can enjoy marché-style elements. That’s also the meaning of the shop’s name of ‘the third market,’” explains Ms. Shinobu Hamanake, the owner’s wife. She is responsible for the design such as the interior and the miscellaneous corner, elements that speak of her outstanding sense.
The food served in the café is entirely homemade by Ms. Shinobu, following the concepts of “wanting to eat something that is gentle to the body” and “wanting to help people to make both body and heart happy.”
The majority of the café’s customers come for the delicious cake. That’s why the menu was changed in January 2018 to focus on sweets.
For our visit, we ordered the most popular cake of café troisieme marches: seasonal fresh cake. It features plenty of fruits that change with the season.
We were treated to fresh strawberries and banana, sandwiched between moist sponge cake. The combination of whipped cream and cheese cream made for a refreshing taste. Moist, soft, and fluffy, the gentle flavor that melts right on the tongue also does an excellent job of melting stress and worries.
Our next order was the popular “cookie and cream cheesecake,” a curious combination of rich, thick cream and bittersweet cookie. The gentle sweetness is deliciously balanced by the faint sourness of cheese and a single bite makes you understand why this cake is such a popular choice.
Besides the different cakes, the quiche of the day also enjoys great popularity. On the day of our visit, the star of the quiche was a new type of broccoli called Aletta, accompanied by plenty of tomatoes, bacon, and black olives. From the first bite on, the bittersweet taste of Aletta, the acidity of tomatoes, the saltiness of the bacon, and the texture of the black olives blend miraculously to a harmonious gourmet experience.
Next to the café are two shop spaces. On sale is a plethora of items for everyday life, including dishware used at the café, apparel, and accessories.
Café troisieme marche is a warm shop that has been honed by a lot of trial and error by the Hamanakes. Even from here on, there will be plenty of smaller and bigger changes that’ll keep the café ever evolving and exciting. If you feel a little thirst for adventure, a desire to try something new, why not make your way out to this charming hideaway, cozily snuggled into the lush nature of Mount Fuji?
Cafe Troisieme Marcheカフェ トロワズィエム マルシェ
- Address 〒401-0304 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町河口682 / 682 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 4010304, Japan
- Phone Number 0555-73-8910
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Lake Kawaguchi boasts a colorful plethora of cafés, from cozy to stylish, from rustic to sophisticated. If you feel like you need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, sit down for a delicious treat and allow yourself to be engulfed in the warmth and individuality of such a café. Every cup tastes better with Mount Fuji in the background.
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