Ishihara Mokkokan is a small mall of eateries and galleries near the Penny Candy Alley area of Kawagoe. Despite its location it is somewhat off the beaten track and mainly enjoyed by locals. There are two reasons for this. One is that it is not on many of the tourist / history walking maps for Kawagoe. The other is that the two main facilities there do not have websites. For these reasons though, the cafe and showroom are never too busy and have more of a local than touristy feel.
Mokkokan Cafe Terrace / Mokko Cafe
Named after the wood workshop across the river, the Mokkokan or Mokko Cafe is the main building in the courtyard. It is a fun building that is hard to miss with the carp on the side of the building and Styrofoam art displays outside. One is a large white rabbit. The other a laughing man in a barrel. The appearance of the exterior alone is enough to get kids excited, but if they’re anything like my kids they will love it even more when they see that they have their own little door to enter, separate to the main door.
Contrary to the external appearance the interior of the cafe has little in the way of visual entertainment and is more a mid century modern look with its green painted sand plaster walls, wooden paneling and natural floors. They have some wooden puzzles showcased in the cafe, they are the work of the wood workshop across the way. You can buy them in the restaurant if you inquire in the reception area.
Separate to the eating area, behind some sliding doors, they have a little reading area with lots of children books. They also have a collection of Showa period children records that you can request to listen to. These records that were hugely popular in the Showa period still delight children today. The records themselves have illustrative photos on them.
The food menu is quite basic, the only meal they have is a homemade pasta, but you can get cakes. The menu itself is cute and original; an old Japanese “kokugo” (Japanese language) notebook. It is no problem to just order a drink in this cafe. They have a really good selection of herb tea. You can get it on its own or in a cake set.
The cafe latte is quite good too. It might sound a little expensive at 400 yen for a tea or coffee or 480 yen for a cafe latte, but in context it is reasonable. The cafe is located near the tourist region where you will pay similar, but won’t have the added attraction of a retro showroom to enjoy before / after your beverage…
Retro goods showroom
Located behind Mokko Cafe with its entrance to the left of the main entrance to the cafe is the “Chotto Mukashi Kurashi No Dogu Koya「ちょっと昔くらしの道具小屋 」. The literal English translation is quite difficult equating something like a Tool Shed of Life A While Ago, so I pained over a description that was more explanatory. The best I could come up with is that it is a showroom of retro goods.
Basically it is a large room, about the size of a 16 tatami mat room, full of items from the Showa, Taisho and even Edo period. There are household items as well as traditional craftsmen items and a great range of toys, including a life size Gundam WB102. It is free to enter and peruse. A sample of what is on show:
There are no websites for either the Mokko Cafe or the Retro Showroom. Mokkocan Cafe Terrace / Mokko Cafe has two separate facebook pages, neither are active. This seems to be the official one:
Open Friday to Tuesday between 10 am and 5 pm. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. They have a party room upstairs which can be used from 6 pm, but only if it has been booked in advance.
Mokkokan cafe is approximately 60 meters from the new end of Kashiya Yokocho or Penny Candy Alley. That is the end heading away from the tourist district, that was recently rebuilt after a fire burnt down the original buildings. If you leave Penny Candy Alley with it to your back and turn left you will come to a bridge. Cross over the bridge and take the first left after the bridge, you will see Mokkokan on your right hand side.
Free parking available for about 10 cars.