“Art Café Shimizu Hot Spring,” a public bath turned into the café!
You can see the sign that says “Shimizu Hot Spring” on the front door of this building.
But not anymore. This building is no longer the public bath for this town.
This café was a former public bath, renovated and opened in 2018 and located in Hondori, Tadotsu-cho in Kagawa Prefecture.
The retro style shoe cupboard will catch your eyes when you enter the front door.
Not only the cupboard, but also a big electric fan and all the signs on the wall have been left inside of the building just as they were.
Is somebody watching me…?
If you think that you are being looked at…, yes there is someone who is watching you.
The head clerk cat sitting on the watcher’s seat is the one.
The tenugui towel on its forehead is so cute…!
An interior full of nostalgic objects and art
The color of the walls inside is a deep and nostalgic green.
This public bath had long been loved by the local people, from the 1920s to the mid-1970s.
And this building was reborn as a café by the owner, Mr. Hidaka, who happened to be unexpectedly linked by fate to this place.
The wall painting, with tiles and other art works coloring the café, are created by the artist Naoto Hidaka, who is based in Nara Prefecture. He is also the son of Mr. Hidaka, the owner.
You can find colorful animals which enjoy bathing in the hot spring.
You can have teatime in the bathtubs…!?
The most recommended point of this café is the seats, which were formerly bathtubs!
Isn’t it so unique to have meals on this table in the bathtubs (can you name any other places like this)?
Wow, I just found a faucet on the wall here…(don’t worry, no running water comes out even if you turn the tap on).
You can enjoy finding some interesting and humorous things here and there, such as the menu in a pail, or the sign saying, “please bathe after taking off your shoes.”
And you know what?
You can even order bottled cold milk and coffee-flavored milk (which are traditional drinks after bathing at a public bath)!
You are at café, but now, it feels like you are in a public bath…!
The lunch menu is pretty substantial.
The “omu-rice” (an omelet with a filling of ketchup-seasoned fried rice) tastes pretty good and you will like the gentle and mild texture of underdone egg.
Also, you can choose several Kagawa specialties, such as “Tofu Hamburger Steak made with Olive Beef,” “Ginger-Fried Olive Pork,” “Oversize Olive Chicken Frankfurter,” and so on.
Another good point of this café is that it is open late at night.
They serve not only sweets but also some alcohol and snacks, so maybe it is a good “second” place to visit after your regular barhopping.
You can order “Ninomiya Kintoki,” this vaunted kakigori, all year round.
The owner’s most recommended menu item is “Ninomiya Kintoki,” a kakigori topped with green tea and sweet adzuki beans.
“Kintoki” means a kind of kakigori (bowl of shaved ice) served with boiled sweet adzuki beans, and “Ninomiya” is the name of the main producing area of Takase-cha, which is a green tea, and one of Kagawa’s specialties.
You can taste the aromatic flavor and bitterness of the Takase-cha, and fortunately, you can order this menu item all year round (usually, kakigori is on the menu only for summertime).
And don’t forget to get some souvenirs here.
You can find and buy some original goods of this café, such as “hot spring’s happy cat” ceramics, stickers, T-shirts, postcards, etc.
Mr. Hidaka, the owner of the café, is also an artist from Nara Prefecture, and has been dealing with renovation of old Japanese houses and management of galleries.
So now, why don’t you try and have the unique experience of “having a meal in the bathtub” there…!?
Art Café Shimizu Hot Spring
Address／1-7-8, Hondori, Tadotsu-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa
Closest Station／JR Tadotsu Station
Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada
Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.
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