Gu Choki Pan ~ a small but quaint bakery, and picturesque garden in golf country Hatoyama. Gu Choki Pa is the Japanese for Rock, Paper, Scissors. Instead of Pa, the owner wittily used pan for her delightful picture perfect boulangerie and natural garden in a rural area of the Hiki District.
Gu Choki Pan
Pan is the most common word for bread in Japanese, one of many words adopted from Portugese. Although in Spanish bread is pan and in Portugese it is pão, etymological studies show that it derived from the Portugese. Not surprising with the long history Portugal has with Japan as the first Europeans to step foot on Japanese soil.
Gu Choki Pan Bakery
You may recognise the name “Gu Choki Pan” from the Ghibli movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. In the movie the bakery is also called Gu Choki Pan.
The bakery is quite small, but the bread and pastry is homemade. When the bread sells out they don’t replace it. As such it is advised to arrive before 1 pm to have a selection. It is a home run bakery with just one or two staff at any given time. Breads range in price, and change frequently, but the average is 300 yen.
You use a tray and tongs, pick your bread and bring it to the counter to pay. You can either take it home or you can eat in the cafe or in the natural scenic garden. Even inside has a view, through large windows, of the garden. If you eat on the premises, they will put the food on a plate, with some real flowers as decoration, and deliver the food to the table.
Menu / Ingredients
There is a little flyer by the cash register with information about the cafe. It includes a note to say that children are welcome. As well as information about where they source their ingredients. All the bread has flour, sugar, salt, butter and yeast.
The coffee gets very good reviews, but I haven’t tried it yet. I did have some of my daughter’s juice and I could tell it is 100% juice. It is 400 yen for a large juice or just 200 yen for a child’s juice.
I read on Google reviews that some people think the bakery is expensive, but I didn’t think so. Given that you have a stunning view with your purchase and can sit out in a beautiful garden I don’t think it is unreasonable.
Gu Choki Pan Natural Garden
The grounds of the bakery are described as a “natural garden”. They use the indigenous plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and grass. In other words flowers were not planted intentionally to look that way. They work with the natural vegetation of the area.
This type of garden might not be as awing as manicured gardens when they are in season, but it is equally magnificent. And it is naturally scenic all year round. It still takes a lot of work, especially as they have added garden structures and various ornaments to add to overall visual impact.
In Gu Choki Pan there is also the added attraction of the natural babbling brook that flows through the outdoor dining area. There are several different places you can dine outside, including the main area by the babbling brook. There are comfortable garden chairs on a wooden deck with a view of the garden in front and the bakery behind on the far side of the brook.
There are lots of trinkets and curio in the cafe and the garden. There are also a couple of garden swings (see also “for the kids” below). On a rainy day there is a gazebo with several tables and chairs. They have some cats too, which the owner seems to like:
For the kids
Apart from having kids sized 100% juice and appealing homemade bread with sweet or savory toppings for the kids, they will no doubt enjoy the garden. They have garden swing benches, a tricycle and unicycle for the kids to enjoy. There is also dozens of knickknacks for them to find.
Its the little touches that can go a long way in an overall impression of an establishment. Like today, the staff gave my 8 year old daughter a small but thoughtful bouquet of flowers when we were leaving. You can see her attention to detail throughout the cafe and gardens.
Greenfingers cafe in Tsurugashima remains my favourite garden cafe, but what I like about Gu Choki Pan is that you actually sit among the shubbery. In Greenfingers you have a view through the stunning french windows, but you can’t actually eat outside.
Gu Choki Pan is one of only a handful of places that I intend to revisit. Next time I plan to bring a book and sit in the garden sipping coffee with the fresh scent of flowers and the trickle of the babbling brook for company.
Address: 〒350-0302 Saitama, Hiki District, Hatoyama, 鳩山町大橋1197-1
Hours: Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. It is sometimes open on Wednesday.
Cost: average 400 yen. CASH only, no credit card machine
Other: the cafe often hosts live musical performances
There is no public transport from a train station. The nearest stations, Myokaku on the Hachiko line and Takasaka on the Tobu Tojo line, are more than an hours walk. You can get a town bus within the town of Hatoyama that stops nearby. And there is an infrequent bus that goes from Takasaka station to Hatoyama New Town housing estate. It is about a 20 minute walk to the bakery from there.
The cafe is located between two different golf clubs, beside a school and a hospital, and close to Hatoyama Agriculture park (where you can see cherry blossoms in October and in the spring). It is also close to JAXA – about a 12 minute drive. It is also within driving distance of the Saitama Children’s Zoo. Official parking for five cars, but another five can fit in the driveway when necessary.