At Hotoritei Café, warm staff welcomes foreigners with diverse tasty food including a vegan plate and a vegetarian pancake, coffee, local "natsu-mikan" summer orange drinks, Japanese & Western cosy rooms, and a Japanese garden. In Hagi city and Yamaguchi Prefecture for the first time, I enjoyed my casual lunch and chat with the English-speaking owner, and noticed that tourists with big bags, a stroller or a cane would be fine.
Building & Garden
Walk on small stones, put your umbrella in the stand, bow slightly while pushing the noren curtain aside, slide the door to enter the café, remove your shoes, go up one step, and admire the garden through glass walls while following the staff to a Japanese-style room with tatami mats and comfortable cushions or to a Western-style room with modern chairs and wooden tables. You'll be fine with big bags, a stroller or a cane but not with a wheelchair.
While waiting for your food & drink, go around the Japanese garden to observe its rocks, bushes, trees, stone lanterns, and pagoda from different angles. Travellers may experience it in many ways; for me, it was charming thanks to vivid lively cherry blossoms before, then during, the rain...
I lunched alone with a view of the sky and local art (notably Hagi pottery), near a couple of quiet joyful Japanese lovers, at some distance from a lively group of 8 Japanese mothers with kids. You should have enough space for your luggage, and the staff may allow you to charge your phone/camera; just bring your adapter and ask.
Food & Drinks
The Japanese menu includes highlights in English to help foreigners order: hamburger steak, meat plate, fish plate, tuna bowl, and curry bowl (around 1,000-1,700 yen). Although not listed, a simple vegan lunch plate is also available (rare in Japan); I got tofu with soy sauce, rice, salad, grated carrots, two types of mushrooms, potatoes, and other vegetables... and was impressed by their taste and texture!
For dessert (around 600-1,100 yen), you can get a matcha terrine (green tea + white chocolate), cassata (local "natsu-mikan" summer orange + nuts), affogato, chocolate cake, or cheese cake. On weekdays, you can also savour a home-made vegetarian Dutch pancake: matcha green tea, mixed berries, or caramel. The mixed berry pancake was great value for money, perfumed, colourful and tasty!
Drinks (around 600 yens) include cold/hot juice (natsu-mikan lemonade, natsu-mikan ginger ale), non-alcohol beer, Guinness, herb tea (rose & berry or apple & camomile), drip coffee (Colombia or Ethiopia), and coffee/caramel/chocolate latte. My warm coffee accompanied the pancake very well!
I recommend Hotoritei café to Westerners looking for a restaurant or tea shop in Hagi city. Its peaceful Japanese atmosphere, diverse menu, quality food (plant-based or not), and warm staff will suit you whether you want to relax alone or chat with friends. If you go, share your experience with the Japan Travel community in the comments :)