If you come to Hanamaki onsen, one of your first stop should be to visit the Cafe de Kura and gallery. It's just across the street from the Hotel Hanamaki. This historic building is as much a part to the experience as the great cakes and pies they serve.
It was built in 1835 by the original owner of Hanamaki onsen as a store house. In those days most buildings were made of wood and were prone to fires. Store houses or warehouses were built by wealthy families or companies to keep important documents and money should a fire occur. These buildings were always built much stronger than regular buildings so they could survive earthquakes, fires and probably attacks by warring clans too. They include a strong wooden structure and walls made of straw and clay 30 to 40 centimeters thick. You can see these old buildings all around the country. They are usually the oldest buildings in town.
This particular warehouse was built by the original owner of Hanamaki onsen. It has been a cafe since 1987, prior to that it was used as a book and document warehouse for the city of Morioka. Once you go inside you'll be amazed to see the incredibly strong wood structure. The counter of the cafe is made of solid wood slabs about 15 centimeters thick to match the rest of the structure. There is also a gallery upstairs for local arts and crafts, the exhibits change monthly.
On the menu
The main attractions are the desserts. They feature different kinds of pies and cakes made by a local bakery. You can also buy whole cakes and pies to take with you. The regular menu is kind of simple, only 4 kinds of sandwiches but I have to say the bread is quite good, not the regular white bread. To accompany the desserts they serve specialty Indonesian coffees. Most of them are individually brewed in vacuum pots.
The cafe is open from 10:00 to 18:00, so they don't have a dinner menu. If you want to have dinner there are several great options in the 3 hotels across the street.
If you are staying at one of the hotels you can get the shuttle bus from Hanamaki station or Shin Hanamaki station (bullet train station). If you are coming via the highway, take the Hanamaki exit, take a right and follow route 37 to Hanamaki hotel.
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I grew up in Quebec, Canada and studied electronics in college, never worked in that field. Moved to Vancouver in the early 80's where I found my real passion, cooking. I ran my own restaurant for 14 years after that worked as a financial advisor for 4 years, I really enjoyed that too but we had to move to Japan for family reasons. After moving to Japan I started teaching English and French. I enjoy teaching too but most of all I enjoy challenges, moving here was challenging but really interesting. Another challenge that I had been thinking about for about 20 years was renovating a house, so for the last 2 years that is what I have been doing. I bought a 25 year old house and am bringing it to modern standards in terms of comfort and earthquake strength. In my time off I like cycling, hiking and snowboarding in winter. Of course I still enjoy cooking. Hope you like my articles.