- 3 min read

Café de Rěve [Temporarily closed]

a secluded restaurant in Tenri

If you follow Paul Hackshaw’s recommendation and visit Isonokami Shrine in Tenri, you certainly owe it to yourself to check out this cafe too. For the price of coffee, you get to relax in an elegant, secluded garden setting, a perfect way-station on your passage between the everyday world and the secluded, forested surroundings of the shrine itself.

As everyday worlds go, this part of Tenri is already a pretty laid-back area as it is, yet it’s within easy walking distance of the Tenri-kyo Main Sanctuary and the Tenri University campus. You’ll notice the signboard out on the main road, just near the entrance to the shrine, but to get to the cafe itself you cross the parking lot, climb a short flight of stone steps, and pass through the half-curtain (noren 暖簾) separating the outer gateway from the beautifully tended inner courtyard garden, with its traditional styled stone lantern. This is how we picture the homes of Japanese aristocrats.

Up to this point, everything about the design and decor takes its inspiration from Japanese medieval castle architecture, but once you enter the coffee shop you instantly feel that you’ve been transported to a modern version of a European one. The interior decor, with its fireplace, open ceiling beams, chandeliers, wooden tables and comfortable red upholstered chairs, suggests a less ostentatious version of a British private club such as we’ve all seen in the Sherlock Holmes movies. Think of his brother Mycroft’s habitat, the Diogenes Club, then mentally reduce all that Victorian clutter to its modern essence, and you’ll have the Café de Rěve, a beautiful specimen of elegant simplicity. The best of both worlds, and the cafe’s wait staff are appropriately attentive without being intrusive.

I visited there on a hot afternoon, for only a refreshing iced coffee, but in the evening the coffee shop becomes a somewhat upscale western restaurant. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to try their evening fare, it certainly looks inviting. Maybe some day I’ll have the pleasure of checking it out, too.

I can’t conclude a review of the Café de Rěve without mentioning its men’s room. Like everything else about the place, it’s clean and elegant, and what’s more, it featured an entertaining first for me. Maybe I’m just an old country bumpkin, out of touch with the modern world and all that, but this was the first time I ever entered a men’s room and had the toilet seat raise itself automatically for me! That was a great touch, and it made me smile; I can only wonder what surprise might be in store for the ladies.

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