A few years back, when I lived in Tokyo I possessed a wonderful little book called “Little Adventures in Tokyo”; a guide to 39 fun yet unusual excursions in the throbbing metropolis. Now if someone were to write a book entitled “Little Adventures in Kyoto”, they would definitely include the wacky little café/bakery and live music venue Hachihachi Infinity Cafe.
Set apart in the Nishijin area of Kyoto, this 100 year old renovated machiya (an old style wooden town house), seems to sit amidst its own private jungle. Sitting here listening to gentle music and staring out the window at the lush greenery outside, you can enjoy a coffee, order some lunch and maybe find a little peace of mind. The proprieter Yokota-san is quietly-spoken but talkative and friendly and will happily tell you all about the live acts that perform there and also recommend some other music venues in the area.
Here is the set lunch; an open sandwich selection of four different breads and a bowl of bean soup that set me back ￥900.
The bread here isn’t cheap, mostly costing over a ￥1000 per loaf, but you are paying for something a little bit special; a really thick and heavy German style loaf made with natural yeast that is very rare in Japan. Here is a menu.
The music played here is a little hard to label by genre, but I think we could say it has an alternative and international edge. Yokota-san told me his aim was to create an intimate space where the musicians and their audience can sit close to one another, in a natural surround and freely communicate. Live acts are irregularly scheduled two to three times a month so check here on the web-page or just pop along one afternoon and ask what’s up-and-coming.
Now, actually finding this place is a little adventure in itself. This map will be of some help but you may still need to ask for directions. The simplest way is to go east from Senbon Dori (千本通) onto Shimochojamachi Dori (下長者町通) and take the first left. Go north a little ways and keep your eyes peeled for this sign on your left. It sits on the corner of an alley that looks like someone’s driveway. It isn’t a driveway. Be brave and follow it to the end and when you start to feel like you have walked into a small forest you will see another sign by a house that looks like it is just a house. It isn’t just a house. Be brave. Open the doors. Enter and announce your presence: “Konnichiwa!” You have arrived at Hachihachi Infinity café. Give yourself a pat on the back, sit down, relax and enjoy the meditative atmosphere.