Release | みふねたまき（Tamaki Mifune）
Kissa Azmaya - A place to relax with a cup of tea and snacks in Kucchan-Cho
Today, I will introduce “Kissa Azmaya” in Kucchan-Cho. The place welcomes both travelers and locals, children and elderlies to take a break for a while. Many people would be familiar that Kucchan-Cho is located at the foot of Ezo-Fuji Mt. Yotei. It’s the center of the Niseko area where people from all over the world visit for powder snow.
When I entered the store from the outside with beautiful huge eaves, the manager Hiromasa Ihara welcomed me with a smile.
Town’s resting area where anyone can stop by casually anytime
▲Kissa Azmaya faces the National Route no. 236. Their shaved ice is popular during the summer.
▲Hiromasa Ihara, the manager of the cafe.
Ihara established “Kissa Azmaya” in Kucchan-Cho, his hometown, on August 2, 2015.
“The number and varieties of shops increased in Hirafu, where ski mountain is located, but there were not many places where locals can relax with a cup of tea in downtown Kucchan. I was hoping to create a place that anyone; from children to elderly, can stop by casually.” Ihara says.
He named his cafe “Kissa” because it might be more familiar than “cafe” to elderlies. The name “Azmaya” comes from the same reason. Azmaya is a type of simple building with a roof and four pillars. “The concept of our store is Meiji to early Showa Era. I love this period when things from overseas mix well with traditional Japanese designs. I was thinking of making it into a modern style using our filters.”
They renovated the building by themselves
▲The store is open and spacious. Hallways are large enough for wheelchairs or strollers. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
▲A Himmeli created with straws made by farmers of Engaru-Cho.
▲Ainu wood carved dolls, welcome visitors.
The store was created with the same concept. He renovated the building used to be a fishing-tackle store from design. “My father works for construction, and I have been watching sites a lot. We renovated by ourselves, getting help from my father. We asked professionals for some parts such as barrier-free constructions and fittings. However, we did other parts by ourselves from getting materials.”
The outside has huge eaves and creates lovely shades. He puts wooden benches, and white Noren (curtains) weaving from winds creates a nice atmosphere. Inside is spacious and easy for wheelchairs and strollers to get around. Customers with children and elderlies like booth seats by the window, just like Ihara said.
“We renovated the store again this year and turned seats by the window to a large bench sofa. Customers now can enjoy a cup of tea while laying down their babies.”
Things they could do at a place with delicious watersThey decide menus by testing with all staffs, mainly Ihara couple, just the same as the store design.
“We imagine drip coffees when we hear the word Kissaten, but we have an espresso machine. It’s the same as cafes which are the mainstream now if we only have it. So to make a connection to the word Kissaten, we added Hoji-cha tea and Sengoku tea, etc., to our menu. We offer blended tea, mainly locally sourced and Hokkaido sourced, containing grains such as adlay and barley and lavender, etc.”
▲Blend coffee. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
Hokkaido is not a producer of tea leaves, but there is a unique tea culture to roast grains, etc. Ihara says he wants to tell that to customers.
“I am hoping to tell things like that, as I get hints from Ainu culture, etc.” The store now offers various original teas such as Hoji-cha which blends Hokkaido lavender, etc. and getting popular.
▲They make tea carefully with waters from Mt. Yotei. The tea tastes very mild and delicious.
“We added tea menus so that people who don’t accept or don’t want caffeine. I, myself, feel not like drinking coffee depending on temperatures or my physical condition. When I drink tea on such occasion, I feel like my body has reset, and the physical condition gets better. We can’t say anything by ourselves, but many local people stop by our shop repeatedly, so I guess people like our offerings.”
They offer homemade sweets that can’t forget to have with teas. Adding to their standard menus such as homemade puddings and waffles, they offer shaved ice made with Mt. Yotei spring’s plate ice in summer.
▲“Because local water is delicious, teas and coffees turn out great. We are lucky, aren’t we?” Ihara says.
Shaved Ice is popular during the summer. “The real ice” made with Mt. Yotei’s spring water by Kyogoku Seihyo is somewhat different from others. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
Homemade pudding has many fans. It’s an old-fashioned hard type, baked in an oven. Kana, the wife of Ihara, likes hard puddings more than soft puddings and she was making the same pudding for her family. The pudding with a strong flavor of eggs has many fans, both young and old.
They offer many other rustic menus such as coffee jelly and waffles and make us relaxed. By the way, waffles are made 100% with Hokkaido rive powders and gluten-free. They offer red bean and butter sandwich or egg sandwich, adding to the regular classic type.
▲The hard homemade pudding and Hoji-cha latte.
▲Classic waffle, gluten-free, made with 100% Hokkaido rice powder. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
▲This menu is popular, too. Red bean and butter sandwich waffles. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
▲Cream coffee jelly creates the harmony of bitter jelly and ice cream. (Kissa Azmaya provided the picture)
Take time and be themselves“We have many menus we want to add and many things we want to try. However, there are many things and information nowadays, and we consider carefully with our staffs whether we should do it or not. We often decide not to do after discussions. We prefer to take time to make our shop famous, rather than doing something new.”
▲They offer original blend coffee beans for sale. Niseko’s Takano Coffee roasts their coffee.
▲They also offer original design mugs.
Ihara says that being here forever is the most important thing.
“If we get unique by something, that might make people love and hate. We might be better to be fuzzy. We are still in the middle of our growth, so we would like to change little by little and hope to make the history of the shop.”
His gentle words really impressed me. If you are going to Kucchan, please stop by “Kissa Azmaya” and take a break.
They are planning to open their sister shop “MOUNTAIN KIOSK COFFEE” by Hirafu Welcome Center as a resting place near the mountain during the winter season. If you are planning to ski in Niseko, this coffee stand is also recommended.
Related Links- Kissa Azmaya
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Tamaki Mifune
Photo / cocoon photographs Asako Yoshikawa