Windy Route 191 leads up from Shimonoseki, hugging the northern coastline of Yamaguchi Prefecture bordering the Japan Sea. A great road to drive or bike along, crisscrossing the JR San’in Main Line all the way, it has one particular café that catches your eye like a lighthouse beacon. Papua Club has been welcoming travelers since 1985.
Coming out of the rather drab first few kilometers of the drive along 191 through the Shimonoseki suburbs, one might feel temporarily starved for beauty. Then suddenly the gray city ends and at once the mountains and sea appear bursting with greens and blues. Situated right on the beach in a wide bay, a two-minute walk from the station, Papua not only looks out to the Hibiki-nada Sea, but also allows for good views of the curve of the strand. Beachside and landside mountains add richness to the surroundings, and islets dot the marine horizon.
And there’s more than just nice outdoor views. The café itself has a warm, woodwork interior with seafaring décor. Model yachts, ship’s wheels, tropical plants, antiques, artwork, and nautical books (even in English) bring an amiable maritime atmosphere to the place. The beachside wall is entirely glass, giving each seat in the house a view of the surf in any weather. And of course there is an outdoor deck where you can enjoy the scent of salt in the air and the calls of local avian denizens. The beach faces west out to sea, making the café an ideal spot to contemplate the sunset over the water.
The menu, with hand-drawn artwork, has a variety of good coffees and teas, cakes and parfaits, along with breakfast and lunch. The coffee is served in attractive Hagi-yaki pottery. Try either the sumiyaki (charcoal roasted) coffee or the Papua blend. Take-out is also available if you’re anxious to get back on the road or want more than one meal.
A five-minute drive from Papua, there’s another welcome stop in Yoshimi with its fishing park and wharf. There are fantastic views of a triple-peak islet and large ships coming from or heading for the Kanmon Strait just a little further down the shore.
Name in Japanese
パプアクラブ—papua kurabu—Papua Club