Despite its well-deserved reputation as an extremely hard-working nation, Japan is also a country that knows how to relax. Every city has a number of cafes where you can stop, sip a drink, and soak in the soothing ambiance.
Some of these establishments style themselves after a comfy living room, while others feel more like a stylish library or lounge. Or, if you happen to be in Tokushima Prefecture, there’s the café built into what appears to be a crumbling castle.
Located in Anan City, Daibosatsu Toge hasn’t actually been in business since the middle ages. It has, though, been serving customers for over 40 years. Depending on the weather, the building either looks like the happily-ever-after home of a fairy tale princess, or the evil dungeon she has to be rescued from.
From the outside, the ivy-covered brick building may look deserted, but look closely and you’ll spot signs saying they’re open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There doesn’t seem to be any outdoor seating available, and if we had to guess, we’d say the reason why is either the long walk from the kitchen or the chance of a loose brick tumbling down and falling into your cup of coffee.
Instead, customers climb a set of stairs to reach the café’s entrance.
▼ Are we laying siege, or getting a snack?
“You’ve really got to come here on a rainy, stormy day for the full effect,” gushes one satisfied customer.
▼ Believe it or not, this is just the café’s name, and not a set of mystic runes to tether powerful dragons to the area, lest they eat the nearby villages.
The show’s not over once you step inside, though, as the fantasy aesthetic continues to the café’s interior.
In contrast to the European look of the building, Daibosatsu Toge makes the very Japanese choice of printing its menu on a folding fan.
The available fare is surprisingly pedestrian, with Japanese café mainstays such as crepes, sandwiches, curry, and soft drinks.
▼ Ice cream
▼ Coffee float
Still, there’s no denying that a bite to eat at Daibosatsu Toge is an entirely unique experience. “If I’m driving by, I stop in, even if I’m already full,” says one woman who’s been a repeat visitor since she was in elementary school.
Most other reviews of the café are similarly glowing, with the sole complaint we stumbled across being a quibble about the seats not being particularly comfortable. That’s probably for the best, though. As awesome as the place looks, and as much as we’d like to stop in for a drink, we’re not entirely convinced it’s sturdy enough to still be standing after a third cup of coffee.
Daibosatsu Toge /大菩薩峠
Tokushima-ken, Anan-shi, Fukuicho, Doigasaki
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.