Bonjour Provence

The south of France in Aso’s grand volcano caldera

By Tristan Scholze    - 2 min read

Always in search of atmospheric cafes and restaurants in the Japanese countryside, chance would have it that I passed the inviting gate of Bonjour Provence after exploring the nearby Mt. Rakan Crags and the environs of Mt. Takagi. Even in the dead of winter, the gardens here were lively with tiny spots of color.

This homelike restaurant is in the middle of a forest at the base of converging mountainsides making up the southern edge of Aso, the world’s largest volcano caldera. Stepping into the garden walkway leads your imagination out of a volcano and into the vibrant south of France.

The décor is happily simple and clean, highlighted by light, solid colors, garden furniture in the sunroom and solid wood tables in the main dining room. Fresh flowers grace the bookshelves, tabletops, and serving dishes. I preferred the sunroom with its large windows facing out into the gardens and wood-burning stove.

The test of whether I would come back again to see the restaurant and its gardens in spring and summer would be the food. It didn’t disappoint. Despite prices being above average for lunch, you get what you pay for here and the meal exceeded expectations. It’s probably the best food among restaurants I’ve dined at in the Aso region.

Daube Provençale (beef stew), Marinated Mussels, Pasta à la Provençale (basil and tomato spaghettini), White Vegetable and Mushroom Spaghettini, and the Hot Pork Pastrami Sandwich Basket make up the main menu. The majority of these items come with a most wonderful salad, delightful soup, and very good, fresh bread. There are also special courses you can order. Presentation is simple, tasteful, and elegant. The coffee is very good and they have a selection of wines.

Outside, the restaurant has a spacious roofed porch overlooking the gardens. There are a few friendly cats roaming around.

Bonjour Provence is in the scenic village of Old Kugino (now known as Minamiaso) near forested hiking trails. It’s open only in the afternoons, 12 to 5, and closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

ボンジュール・プロヴァンス—Bonjuuru Purovansu—Bonjour Provence

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Tristan Scholze

Tristan Scholze @tristan.scholze

I'm also known as Faer Out. I love learning about people and nature. I've traveled around the world and throughout Japan, and I hope to continue seeing and experiencing the wonder of this planet as long as I live.Based in Japan for nearly two decades, I'm the Regional Partner here for Fukuoka and Saga Prefectures. In addition to my work at JapanTravel, I have a language school called Rainbow Bridges English Academy in Fukuoka and am very interested in teaching, languages, communication, and photography, among other things. Recently, I've been a guest host on NHK World's J-Trip Plan for Caving Adventures in Western Japan as well as Exploration for Black Gold.I love heading downtown to meet up with friends for a night out as well as being able to hop on my motorcycle and be riding through forest-covered mountains or to sandy beaches in 20 minutes. This area is very photogenic and even after years of exploration, there are still plenty of places to discover each weekend! My photographs are available for purchase on iStock, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime or by contacting me.Please contact me if you have any questions about travel in Japan. I'd also be grateful for any follows on social media!

Join the discussion

Yui Yamaguchi 6 years ago
Homely restaurant! Look forward to see their menu for each season.
Tristan Scholze Author 6 years ago
Very tasty!
Michael Rupp 6 years ago
Cool, in my neighborhood, but I hadn't heard of this place!
Tristan Scholze Author 6 years ago
Thanks, Michael! I found it by accident.
Mandy Bartok 6 years ago
Great find, Tristan! I'll have to put this on my list of cafes to check out - the Aso area has so many!
Tristan Scholze Author 6 years ago
Yes, many good ones. It's a great place to explore!