January 24, 13 |
Mizunomori Café Kimu Unkuru - Kutchan - For a quiet coffee break at the foot of Mt. Yotei
On a narrow road off of Route 478, you’ll find Café Kimu Unkuru. Route 478 connects the towns of Kutchan and Kyogoku (not far from Niseko) and the road to the café is marked by a notable soba shop. It was quite an adventure to get to the café but finally we found it.
With no background music, there is a sense of quiet calm that falls over the space, making it so peaceful that it seems to actually slow time. Outside the windows, the balding branches of the surrounding forest let the silhouettes Mt. Yotei and Annupuri peak through.
▲ The surrounding forest and hand made wooden tables really bring a sense of warmth to the café. It’s as if the scenery is actually becoming more beautiful the longer you sit.
“In the winter, this becomes a serene white escape, and in the spring, the busy sounds of chirping birds bring it to life,” said shopkeeper Eiji Nakamura. It had been his dream to live so close to Mt. Yotei when moved here from Sapporo 18 years ago with his wife, Yumiko. The two of them made their home on this small plot of land, opening the café in late 2011 as a place to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.
‘Kimu Unkuru’ means ‘mountain inhabitant’ in the native Hokkaido language of Ainu. The inhabitants the shop owners are referring to are actually the Hokkaido squirrels that are frequently visit the shop.
▲ Hokkaido Squirrel (Ezo Risu). In winter, it seems they come out in the morning. I wasn’t able to catch a glimpse of them this time. This is a photo taken by Nakamura san.
The coffee is brewed with fresh spring water from Mt. Yotei and home-roasted beans. They also offer Japanese meal sets as well as homemade curry by Yumiko san. The spring water is taken directly from a spring near the shop. Nakamura san showed me the location, where you can also go snowshoeing in the winter (rentals available).
▲ There are 17 locations surrounding the foot of Mt. Yotei where you can access the fresh spring water. Nakamura san happily talked to me about the Hokkaido squirrels in the area as well.
▲ Delicious and savory deep roasted coffee. Original blend, 400 yen
▲ Yumiko’s curry and rice. Hearty potato curry (with salad), 600 yen
Suddenly our photo writer, Megane, perked up: “Oh, listen! There’s a woodpecker!” The woodpecker popped by the window for a moment, but as quickly as he came, he flew off again. It seems clear that after this visit, this is a wonderful spot to get a moment of peace, relax, and enjoy nature at its best.
● Mizunomori Spring’s Café Kimu Unkuru
Closed on Tuesdays
Research and article by Hokkaido Likers Writer - Chiaki Uzurahashi
Photography by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer – Megane