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Children in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture currently have good reason to celebrate, as a huge new sweets shop officially opened in their town on December 7. But the news gets even sweeter: only kids in sixth grade or younger are allowed inside! Sounds like any child’s wildest fantasy come true, right? Parents must wait outside (and no doubt prepare themselves for the inevitable sugar-high antics to come) while their children explore the hidden wonders within.

Join us after the jump for a rare glimpse inside the shop and read what inspired the owner to open it in the first place.

The new shop, named the Future Sweets Factory, is located on the premises of the wildly popular Patisserie es Koyama, which carries a large line of pastries and baked goods, and is particularly famous in the region for its special roll cake.

▼Sign outside greeting the customers

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Image: Love Berry

▼A large line of people waiting to get their hands on the famous roll cake is not an unusual sight.

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Image: Nyandafuru

▼That huge selection of macarons doesn’t look half bad, either!

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Image: Love Berry

Next to the main shop is the special entrance for Future Sweets Factory. Its peculiar egg-shaped entrance adds to the fun.

▼Main shop (left); kids-only shop (right)

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Image: Nyandafuru

▼The entryway also doubles as a waiting room for adults.

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Image: Nikkei

The waiting room has its own vending machine so adults don’t feel completely left out of the fun. It dispenses a fluffy milk biscuit made in the bakery called “MATTERU.”

▼Adults can munch on a snack while they wait.

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Image: es koyama

“MATTERU” comes in two flavors: the plain version, with a milk-butter filling, and a chocolate version, with a filling made from caramel and fair trade chocolate from Ecuador. They are sold three to a pack in charming milk cartons for 500 yen (US$4.80) each.

▼Both flavors look delicious!

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Image: es koyama

Anyway, let’s continue on our main journey. Kids enter the fantasy sweets world through a special, kid-sized door. Is anyone else reminded of Alice in Wonderland?

▼The sign reads “No adults allowed.

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Image: Nikkei

Finally, we’re through! Once inside, kids are treated with samples of freshly basked sweets. They also get a special look at the manufacturing process of the baked goods, as well as a sneak peek at some new items before they go on sale in the main shop. Furthermore,  they can watch the chefs bake three special surprise sweets right before their eyes. Each one only costs 150 yen.

▼A rare glimpse of wonderland!

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Image: Nikkei

▼One family sent their child inside with a camera, and got these cool shots of a cartoon character and a robot decoration.

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Image: Nikkei

When their magical journey comes to an end, children excitedly relate their adventure to their (no doubt hungry) parents.

“Mommy, Daddy, guess what we saw that you didn’t!”

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Image: Nikkei

So what was the original motivation behind creating a kids-only sweets shop? According to owner and chef Mr. Susumu Koyama, his main goal in building such a space was to encourage active communication between children and their parents. After all, the only way for adults to find out what’s inside the shop is to hear everything from their children.

Let’s hear from Mr. Koyama himself:

Nowadays, adults are so busy that they don’t always have time to listen to what their children are saying. As a result, I feel like kids have trouble expressing themselves. I want to foster more communication by encouraging an “I want to tell you something” attitude in the children and an “I want to hear what you have to say” attitude in the adults.

When I was young, I used to tell stories about what happened at school to my mother and various neighborhood ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles.’ They were always willing to listen. Growing up in that kind of environment is the reason why I am who I am today. At this new shop, I hope to revive the atmosphere of those good old days and become one of those neighborhood ‘uncles’ for the new generation.

Aww, he seems like such a sweetheart! Mr. Koyama, we applaud all of your hard work and wish you the best success in your endeavor.

▼How fitting is it that Mr. Koyama, with his sweet personality, also owns a patisserie!

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Image: Cotta

Mr. Koyama is not the only one who reminisces fondly about “the good old days” when entire neighborhoods gathered in one place and children and adults could mingle together. There are still a few places like that scattered around Japan. Let’s take a look at Medakaya, a sweets shop located in Shizuoka Prefecture. This old-fashioned shop still serves as a communal gathering place for local families.

▼Medakaya, in Shizuoka Prefecture

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Image: FujiTV

▼Snapshots

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Image: living komatsu

The shop has a nostalgic feel to it, and individual candies can be bought for super cheap (like penny candy, as we say in America). Furthermore, the entire place is run on an honor system! Customers calculate the total cost of their purchase and then pay the amount to the cashier. What a good way to show trust in your neighbors.

▼Girls checking out some toys

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Image: FujiTV

But the candy isn’t everything. As mentioned previously, Medakaya also serves an important function in the community as a communal forum where locals can chat and look after one another’s children. Kids can study there after school, and mothers can meet up to gossip or exchange information.

There’s even more fun waiting outside, too:

▼Locals play shogi, or Japanese chess, on the benches outside.

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Image: living komatsu

▼Children can try out old-fashioned toys such as otedama (similar to jacks) and daruma-otoshi (a similar principle to jenga).

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Image: living komatsu

Isn’t it heartwarming to see such neighborhood bonding?

Shop information

Patisserie es Koyama/Future Sweets Factory
Hours: Open daily from 10AM – 6PM (except Wednesdays, through the month of January)
You can view the monthly calendar here.
Address: 5-32-1  Yurinoki-dai, Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture, 669-1324

Sources: Matome Naver, es koyama