Garden and Cafe Prunus, Higashimatsuyama, piqued my interest when I saw a photo of it in a Moteco issue a couple of years ago. It wasn’t so much the food as the building that grabbed my attention. It is a fetching cross of English country meets Swiss chalet. Perched on top of a hill with meadows out front, it is such an atypical scene it was love at first sight!
The other day while researching where to go with my trusted lunch buddy, I came across a photo of the daily lunch of Cafe Prunus on Instagram. It spurred me to finally cross it off my “want to go” list and A-chan was all too happy to check out the picturesque country cafe with me.
Taking a turn off busy route 407 brought me to a country road that winds it way to another world. As I took the last crooked turn I was transcended to another time and place. The hilltop cafe tucked neatly among some majestic deciduous trees and flanked by rolling meadows is more Irish countryside than Japanese “inaka“.
Inside is farmhouse chic with a warmth and character hard to find in these parts of Saitama. There is a high beam wooden ceiling and several big windows allowing lots of natural light and affording great views. Dozens of trinkets ornate the room and beautiful lights add to the atmosphere. There is a piano and beautiful fireplace in the main dining hall.
There is a small upstairs that can be used by any patron, but it was designed for children. That area has low tables and you sit on the floor or use low benches. You take your shoes off in this area. They have some children’s books out for kids to play with. Back downstairs there is an annex off the main dining area with tables that overlook the green fields.
The food menu is actually very small, but they are very flexible and accommodating to anyone with food sensitivities, allergies or indeed children who need the dishes tweaked. The lunch menu is a fixed daily lunch system. There are usually three choices.
The lunch comes with rice, soup and side dishes including a salad dish and pickles. And you can get a drink of tea or coffee or orange juice. A-chan had a black pepper pork dish and I had menchi katsu. Both were truly delicious. We couldn’t find a fault with the food. The lunch is quite big, but you can take your time and relax over your food.
You order at the counter and pay in advance. It is okay to just get a drink or they have cake and scone sets too. The scones and cakes are freshly made on site.
Atelier is a word you see quite frequently in Saitama. Several cafes and restaurants have an atelier, or as we more frequently say workshop, within them. When we visited this past week, there were a group of ladies stitching and knitting over coffee in one corner of the farmhouse. The area, which sells handmade goods, is reserved for crafting.
Within the cafe you will find many items with a price tag attached. They not only sell food, but various different trinkets and handmade items. You can buy flowers and plants too and even take flower arranging classes, which is no wonder as the cafe actually started out as a flower shop:
You know a garden is tendered to lovingly when they are few cobwebs in sight. And in Garden and Cafe in Prunus you’d be hard pushed to find more than a couple of cobwebs. The garden is not only for aesthetics, but it has commercial value too. They sell some of their flowers and plants and you can even purchase fresh homegrown vegetables at a very reasonable price.
There are tables outside so you can eat out, weather permitting. In the garden they have some really nice touches including some swing chairs. It would make a great location for an intimate wedding; there is even a gasebo where you can imagine a couple exchanging vows. The garden has some night lights and in early April they light up the stunning mature yamasakura.
The garden and cafe is even more charming than I could have ever imagined. For a brief moment as I looked out the cutely adorned window, with not a rice field in sight, I forgot I was in Japan. Ephemeral as it was, it is a rare treat to feel even for a fleeting moment, that I was back in Ireland.
If you find yourself on the stretch of route 407 in Higashimatsuyama beside Kumagaya it is definitely worth swinging by for a cup of coffee. Or indeed if you are visiting the Coedo brewery you can walk to the cafe; 100 caves of Yoshimi, Botanen or Shinrin Park are also within commutable distance but by car only. Even the Peony walk and Saitama children’s zoo are within manageable distance by car.
Events and classes at Cafe Prunus
Children as young as three can participate in the flower arranging classes in Atelier Karen. They are bi-monthly though and you have to pay a signing up fee. You can review the various classes here. The cafe hosts a number of events throughout the year. You can find current information on their website linked in the information section below.
Hours: Open from 11 am to 5 pm, last order at 4 pm, Saturday to Thursday, closed Fridays. On part of the website it says they close on Tuesdays, but we were there on a Tuesday so I think that information is outdated!
Cost: Budget for about 1,500 yen for lunch.
Address: 1549-3 Oya, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture 355-0008