For initiated urbanites from home and abroad, Tokyo‘s sprawling metropolitan area is a treasure trove of many things, be it fashion, food or architecture. It’s in Maebashi, a town on the outer, outer northwestern fringes where the latter two categories are alluringly captured by one of Blue Bottle Coffee‘s newest parlours. Exactly a year ago, after a thorough revamp by acclaimed architect Sou Fujimoto, Shiroiya Hotel opened on the premises of a renowned traditional Japanese ryokan with a history of 300 years. The café however, situated in the courtyard with an entrance of its own, is designed by Tokyo-based practice Keiji Ashizawa Design. It’s a compact space, and given its location right below a striking manmade grassy hill, it boasts a somewhat cave-like atmosphere, but sufficient daylight to avoid any gloomy connotations. Interestingly, the interior palette aims to reflect Maebashi‘s architectural legacy, and it’s arguably best captured by the venue’s red brick flooring. A low cushioned bench with circular side tables takes centre stage, flanked by a wall bench on one side, and a wooden cabinet with tiered shelving on the other, all created in collaboration with Japanese furniture brand Karimoku. Adding to Blue Bottle Coffee café’s unique vibe is an art piece by local artist Yoshio Shirakawa which takes cues from the city’s history.
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