Sunny Hills at Minami-Aoyama

Piquant Pineapple at this Architectural Palace

By Tom Roseveare    - 2 min read

In the glitzy neighbourhood of Omotesando just a few blocks east of the station, one particular street corner manages to induce a prominent gaze from passersby far better than the surrounding luxury stores that populate the area. Sunny Hills (微熱山丘) is a pineapple cake shop, located inside a grandiose, towering three-dimensional timber lattice – the work of celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (also responsible for the original Starbucks store in Fukuoka).

This structure makes use of ancient, complex woodcrafting techniques, known as jigoku-gumi, with over 5000 metres of timber slats used in the final design. This architectural technique relies entirely on wooden joints, with no nails in sight. The organic construction resembles a forest in the city-centre, with the light patterns cast inside mimicking the way light filters through a forest canopy.

Visitors are invited inside for free to explore the three-storey building at their leisure. Taking inspiration from traditional bamboo baskets, it's a sweet piece of architecture with a secret inside. In a nod to Taiwanese hospitality, guests are welcome to try a free pineapple cake—Sunny Delights—alongside a cup of tea up on the second floor. There is no obligation to buy if you don't want to, but you won't be moved on quickly either (which is great, because you'll likely find it far easier to relax and unwind in this secluded cafe space far better than the average busy Tokyo coffee shop).

The Taiwanese brand is tentatively named after the region and climate of central Taiwan that gives rise to the sun-basked sweet and intensely flavoured pineapples that are at the core of this pineapple ca. At Sunny Hills, their head baker Master Lan bakes pineapple cakes on a daily basis, moulded into their iconic ingot shape. For Japan, their recipe uses French Échiré AOP butter combined with Japanese flour and plump-yoked eggs.

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Tom Roseveare

Tom Roseveare @tom.roseveare

Creative Director at Japan Travel, based in Tokyo.

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