In recent years, fewer people have the habit of brewing tea in a teapot, and as a result, the number of traditional Japanese tea shops known as ”ochaya-san” is decreasing year by year. Meanwhile, there is a successor who is striving to revive the long-established Japanese tea specialty store, which was founded in 1912, by creating a store that caters to the tastes of modern people. Eiko Toyoshima is the fifth-generation owner of Yamashiroya Chaho, a store located in Fukuchiyama City, a core city in northern Kyoto Prefecture known as a castle town connected to Akechi Mitsuhide.
Ms. Toyoshima had been reforming her store for several years, and she renovated her store last year using a government business restructuring subsidy. She opened a cafe space, which was her dream. The cafe’s concept is to spread awareness about tea produced in Fukuchiyama, and serves locally produced matcha and gyokuro. Although Fukuchiyama has been producing high-quality tea for a long time and is highly regarded in the industry, it is not branded as a production area. In order to overcome this situation and improve the brand power of Fukuchiyama tea, Yamashiroya Chaho has been focusing on locally produced ”Fukuchiyama tea” and selling original tea that is finished and processed in-house.
By the way, the roasted green tea, named ”Akaoni” after the local legend of Shuten Doji, is a standard product that is extremely popular with customers all over the country.
The matcha served at the cafe was also developed at the same store. Tencha, the raw material for matcha, has been cultivated in Fukuchiyama for a long time, but there was no locally processed product that could even be processed into matcha, so they decided to create it. It is characterized by a brighter color and darker green than matcha from other regions, but it has a refreshing taste. As a result, customers who were afraid to try it, fearing it might be bitter, were pleasantly surprised and it has been well received. In addition, in the morning, the shop serves the day’s matcha carefully filtered through a tea strainer right in front of the customers, and you will be impressed by the special feeling that sets it apart from the matcha drinks at regular cafes.
Many local customers are even more surprised to learn that it is a product from Fukuchiyama.
The store is located between JR Fukuchiyama Station and Fukuchiyama Castle, a tourist attraction, and is often visited by tourists. For this reason, the cafe serves as a place for these people to take a break, but many of its users are locals.
After Ms. Toyoshima began reforming her store, the number of young customers, not just the traditional elderly, was gradually increasing. However, in most cases, the tea was purchased as a gift for someone like a grandmother, and many people did not know that locally produced tea existed, or even if they did know, they had never tried it. However, with the opening of the cafe, there are more opportunities for such young customers to drink tea, and as a result, the number of young Fukuchiyama tea fans is also steadily increasing.
In last year’s renovation, the exterior was also changed from the tile that was often used in the Showa era to a colored exterior wall that matches the atmosphere of the castle town. We were particular about not being too fashionable, and created a store with a nostalgic feel that retains the atmosphere of an old-fashioned tea shop. ”It’s important that elderly customers, young people, and tourists don’t feel like it’s difficult to enter. That gives them a sense of security,” says Toyoshima.