Gourmet Kagawa

Small ’Art Island’ Discoveries & A Nostalgic Café Found Hidden in the Backstreets!

In the Honmura district of Naoshima Island, old traditional Japanese houses with charred wood and white lime plaster walls give the area a nostalgic elegance.

Walking around town, you may well see interesting scenes and surprising objects that make you want to stop for a while.

I came across a storage-like space with books, utensils and various other goods. It includes a bartering area where one object can be exchange for another that you deem to be of the same value. The note says: “From you to the next person, a stopover point for traveling goods”. It’s somewhat wonderful, right?



“Did something nice happen today?” [Written in the photograph below]

This roof tile, placed in a corner of the road, just makes you want to reply: “Yes! Something nice did happen!” Art objects merged with everyday spaces brings little moments of pleasure to those that find them…

With this nonchalantly hung signboard, among other gems, you can feel the good taste and playfulness of the inhabitants and it makes you feel warm inside – one of Naoshima Island’s many charms…


Perfect for taking a break during an art tour, there are several cozy cafés in the area located in renovated traditional Japanese houses.


From among those establishments, we’ d like to introduce the perfect hidden café where you can spend some relaxing island time.

Just a 5-minute walk from the Naoshima-cho managed “Nokyo-mae” bus stop, which is located in the Honmura district, following the signs to “Café Salon Naka-Oku”, you eventually see a snug-looking traditional Japanese house on top of the hill on the other side of the fields.

The café was opened in a renovated, 70-year-old traditional Japanese house.


As you open the rattily sliding door, it’s feels almost if you’re visiting relatives. You could easily blurt out “Ojamashimasu” by mistake (a greeting uttered upon entering someone’s house).


This is the shop of Mr. Takahiro Kobayashi, the Naoshima Island-born owner who also has experience as a hotelkeeper.


In the current situation where the number of people moving to Naoshima Island to run cafés is increasing, he decided it was no time for him, a pure Naoshima Island-grown local, to stand idling! Apparently that’s how he thought of starting a café.


It’s a lovely space filled with the wish of wanting to make it the base for spreading the island’s charm.

As its retro ambiance allows visitors to spend some relaxing island time, it’s no surprise that many female customers visit alone…


The tokonoma (alcove where flowers are usually displayed) and veranda are also typical features of traditional Japanese houses.


Antique objects nonchalantly placed around the café also bring out a unique ambience. If you visit with a group, sitting in the Japanese tatami style room around the low table will surely invite lively discussion.

On this particular visit, we had “Naka-Oku Original Blend” coffee and the café’s well-known sponge cake. Mr. Kobayashi, the owner, carefully brews each cup of coffee one by one, and its fruity fragrance and solid aftertaste fill your mouth. I had mine with the mildly sweet sponge cake made with plenty of Okamaya prefecture Tamano city grown, organically farmed, purple sweet potato. As the cake is made with seasonal ingredients, its flavor changes according to season.


A popular dish at lunchtime is the “Fluffy Omurice with Special Coconut Curry Sauce”. At dinnertime, the shop is popular not only among tourists but also with locals as a place to enjoy a proper meal with drinks.

Naoshima Island’s lovely No.1 café where you can spend some relaxing island time – Do come for a visit.

Café Salon Naka-Oku

Address: 1167 Honmura, Naoshima-cho, Kagawa district, Kagawa prefecture
TEL: 087-892-3887
Open: 1.30-15.00, 17.30-21.00
Closed: Tuesdays + Irregular holidays
Access: 5-minutes walk from Naoshima-cho’s managed bus stop, Nokyo-mae
HP: http://www.naka-oku.com/ (Japanese)
The Setouchi Finder Editors



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