Gallery Cafe Stork / Stork Cafe ~ a gallery cafe, artisan cafe, garden cafe, jazz cafe and cafe extraordinaire all rolled in to one in Konosu City, Saitama! Art, Artisans, Banter, Cafe, Flowers, Fresh food, Gallery, Garden, Home and handmade, Jazz, Live Mic, Live Music, Pop up shop / space, Rakugo, Regulars, Sculptures…
All in a name!
Gallery Cafe Stork is not just some random name. It was carefully thought of by the owner and master of this creative cafe before he delivered it to us more than ten years ago. I love a cafe with a meaningful name, even more so when it is a clever pun on words.
The kanji for the city of Kounosu is 鴻巣 .The Kouno denotes a large bird, the su a nest. Kounosu can be interpreted as an area where there were large birds nests. However, kounotori, which is used in katakana, is the Japanese for a stork. So Kounosu could be a stork’s nest. And hence cafe Stork got its name and a theme for the interior and garden of the cafe.
All that Jazz!
With such consideration and wit given to naming the cafe, it was no surpise to hear that the “master” is more than just a barista. And the design, decor and ambiance of the garden – gallery – cafe are not the only place his creativity spills over. The cafe has live music nights when the master takes to the stage with his group to perform his genre of choice: jazz. It is not the only type of live act performed in the annex:
The annex of the main cafe is used for seating customers on a busy day, which it seems is almost every day. But for certain events it is transformed into a mini theater where music, live mic and even rakugo is performed. You can eat your meal in a romantic (but lively) setting with a view of the gardens while live jazz plays. In winter the wood stove adds to the ambiance, and the warmth!
Cafe Stork Vibe
The cafe and garden is very photogenic with lots of knick knacks to discover. And in keeping with the name, there is lots of stork paraphernalia. Including a large stork statue in the garden.
There are other sculptures and art work in the garden too. And in the car park. I love the display at the entrance to the car park with an old gas cannister upcycled as a piece of art. The body sculptures blew my mind. I am still thinking of them tonight. I have interpreted them a few different ways. (Click in for a closer look). What do you think!? The garden is not just for aesthtics, as some of them are, you can sit and dine in the garden. There are several seasonal flowers. Currently there are lilacs, roses and african daisies, among others, in bloom.
The cafe has a very friendly atmosphere and amiable mood. Several of the regular customers struck up a conversation with me, which I personally love (most days!), but I know its not for everyone. It was through these conversations and of those with the master that I came to learn so much about this congenial cafe in just one visit.
Pop up Shop / Gallery
Within the main building there is a space that is used as a gallery and shop. It displays work of other creative souls for a period of about two weeks, like a pop up shop. Sometimes it is art work, sometimes produce and, like today, it displays and sells work of local handmade artisans.
What is particularly interesting about the handmade goods currently on sale in this area are that several of them are made from recyled and / or natural materials. A collaborative of craftswomen work together to display their handmade clothes (recycled from old expensive kimono with a history), handbags, jewelry, scented items and ornate accessories.
Much to my delight, it turns out one of the craftswomen in the current craft collaborative is one of our own foreign wives living in Saitama. She hand makes the most exquisite jewelry from “sakura” cherry blossom tree bark and other natural materials. As well as using various upcycled materials. The one material that surpised me the most: tyres! This pop up shop will be open until August 4th 2019. (The banner says July 28th, but it was extended due to popular demand to the 4th.)
Cafe Stork Menu
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably figured out by now that the menu is not as important to me as the vibe. I am not a foodie. I do enjoy food, but do not have a super palette. With the exception of natto, I eat and like anything that is put in front of me.
However, great news for gastronome, the food here is particularly delicious. And freshly homemade too. The menu is a good size for a cafe of this type and size. They have a good selection of beverages too. You can get a dish on its own or as a “lunch set” which comes with a drink of your choice (non alcoholic, but they do sell beer too).
Menus are in Japanese, but they are very visual. The master speaks a little bit of English and is adept at using google translate!
Gallery Cafe Stork Information
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 7 pm
Address: 4-chōme-4-113 Ningyō, Kōnosu-shi, Saitama-ken 365-0037
Budget: 1000 yen for a lunch set
- There are not live performances everyday, you can check their Facebook page linked above for the up-to-date schedule
- One unisex toilet
- Because it is a natural garden there are quite a lot of bees
- No smoking indoors
- Not wheelchair friendly
- No baby changing mat
- Parking available
About a 25 minute walk from Konosu station or a 35 minute walk from Kitamoto station. Both are on the Takasaki line.
Close to the Fukai intersection of route 17. However, it is down a very narrow road that only fits one car (width wise at a time). If you can come at it from alongside the railway line (Konosu Ningyo Post office) there are signs to the cafe and you only have to use the narrow road for about 100 meters. Free parking for about 20 cars right outside the cafe and there is an overflow car park nearby too.
Cafe Stork is relatively close to Japan’s largest poppy field! About 30 minutes on foot. It is also relatively close to the Saitama Prefecture Driver License Center in Konosu. About a ten minute drive. So if you are looking something to do or somewhere to eat after renewing your driver’s license… Enjoy!
More picturesque cafes in Saitama