By Rod Walters
If you’re in the Dogo area and you’re looking for a bite of lunch in a place with some of the local atmosphere, Dogo no Machiya café is a good option. It’s a baker’s shop in the arcade that leads between Dogo Onsen Honkan and Dogo Station.
However, Dogo no Machiya is not your average baker’s shop, because it’s located in a rather special building, an old machiya. Machiya is one of the representative styles of Japanese vernacular architecture for the homes of urban merchants and craftsmen. The word machiya is written using two kanji: machi meaning “town”, and ya meaning “house” or “shop”. The typical machiya is a long wooden home with narrow street frontage, stretching deep into the city block and often containing a small courtyard garden and a garden at the back. Dogo no Machiya fits this pattern, making it an interesting and beautiful space to visit.
The appeal of this very Japanese space has been enhanced by thoughtful and detailed interior decoration. The furniture is antique, with characterful wooden tables and cane chairs. The tokonoma – recessed spaces for displaying works of art – are decorated with calligraphic screens, flower arrangements and various objets. Subdued lighting, combined with the natural illumination from the large windows facing the gardens, and a little trance reggae background music are perfect for a relaxed meal.
Being a bakery, the menu at Dogo no Machiya features bread and cakes. There are sandwiches, white stew served with bread, and hamburgers. I had the hamburger with mushroom and mustard sauce. The burger itself is thick, and it comes combined with a very tasty poached egg in a large bun, with small side servings of green salad and pasta salad, both very good. For dessert, there’s chocolate mousse served with whipped cream and a little square of sponge cake.
Dogo no Machiya is popular with women, and my lady friends tell me that their friends and family are always keen to go there again. But men and families are also well represented among the customers too. The entirely separate room at the back is non-smoking, so guests are not pestered with airborne pollutants.
The café serves breakfasts as well as lunch, making it an invaluable eating and relaxation spot for touring in Dogo. You can drop in anytime for an iced cappuccino or a refreshing cup of tea.
Name in Japanese
道後の町屋 - dōgo no machiya - Dogo no Machiya
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I was born in Bristol, England, and I came to Japan in 1991 … which means I’ve lived half my life in this island nation on the other side of the world. The theme of my career in Japan has been communication. I started as an English teacher, and moved into translation as I learned Japanese. I worked at a well-known electronics manufacturer, facilitating their multinational communications before I became a freelance translator. As such, I translated a lot of tourism-related information. It was obvious to me that most of this isn’t sufficient to convey the excitement and wonder of Japan. In 2011, I established Knowledge Travel Partners, an inbound tourism consultancy. After living in several regions of Japan, I settled in Ehime where my wife is from. It’s on the southern island of Shikoku facing the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, Japan’s Mediterranean. The pace of life here is slow and peaceful, but we do like to throw a raucous festival now and again.