Mar 22, 2018
The tea is warm and delicious and the atmosphere even more so at Ebiya Cafe Harema on Motomachi Street in Shiogama. Settled in the first floor of a historical building across the street from Okama Shrine, the cafe is known for cherry blossoms-- found in a mural currently being refurbished on the ceiling of the third floor as well as in stained glass windows in the seating area. A variety of seating options are available, ranging from a comfy cushioned couch to a traditional-style seating area with low tables and a shoes-off policy. Warm tones of the dark wooden interior permeate the experience, which is extremely comfortable, fun, and even kid friendly.
In addition to the delicious but modest fair, local handicrafts are for sale around the cash register and many smaller tables nearby, including those dividing the traditional style seating section from the rest. Pins and magnets with local mascots as well as hair elastics featuring locally-produced fabrics in broach form sit beside woodwork and weaving, all with price tags visible for the would-be collector.
After an enjoyable cup of tea, the diligent traveler would do well to visit the upstairs area via a staircase past the cash register on the customer-side of the room. Entrance to this area will cost 300 yen per person payable upstairs and require the removal of one's shoes at the bottom base of the staircase. Free plastic bags are provided to hold one's footwear while enjoying the sights of the second floor, which is dedicated to the history of the building and location including a diorama of historical Shiogama as it was hundreds of years ago. Many historical pictures of the establishment and the area can be found alongside their Japanese explanations in displays that occupy much of this floor. While there is no English to read, many of the pictures do not require a lot of reading to comprehend and still give even the less literate traveler a sense of the history of the building. Watch out for the crown molding. In addition to being set around the 5'8 mark, the wood is inlaid with mother-of-pearl in related shapes, including sailboats and fish.
There is also a third floor, accessible through a steep staircase, but there is little of interest up there as of Spring 2018, as the reconstruction of the impressive sakura mural is still in progress.
While the staff is very welcoming and helpful, their English is close to nonexistent and this monolingual trend holds true for the rest of the establishment as well. The menu is in Japanese with some pictures, but isn't that hard to read if you at least know hiragana and katakana. The staff is more than willing to work with foreigners with lacking Japanese ability, so if all else fails, point at the pictures.
Ebiya Cafe Harema is the perfect place for a spot of tea while wandering around the shrines of Shiogama or enjoying a small lunch or brunch whatever the weather.
This post is a special tea blog report, part of our Shizuoka Green Tea Guide, and a chance through City-Cost for bloggers in Japan to engage in new “Japan” experiences about which to create posts.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.