Herbal House, Shabby Chic Open House and Garden, Yoshimi, Saitama
500 yen entry fee which includes a herbal tea and small slice of cake
Herbal House in Yoshimi has been described on Instagram as “relaxing”, “other worldly” and “like something from a Ghibli movie”.
Google Maps reviews consolidates the high praise with its benevolent reviews and 4.8 out of 5 star rating. There is one person who gave it three stars because she had to bring her baby’s dirty nappy home*, but other than that it is 98% five star reviews. This is extremely rare in my experience and speaks volumes about this quaint attraction atop a hill in rural Yoshimi.
*It is quite common in Japan to have to bring a dirty or wet nappy home. Shopping centers, hospitals, large restaurants and charged play facilities generally have a diaper disposal unit, but parks, free children centers, museums and small cafes often don’t.
Open House and Garden
I’d never been to a place like Herbal House in Japan before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We have open houses in Ireland, and it turns out it is quite similar. You are quite literally viewing somebody’s home and garden. In Ireland, they are normally large heritage houses, but Herbal House is something more distinct and unique, and very small!
Herbal House Vibe
Herbal House is a romantic vintage set, primitive – antique – rustic furnished, brocante and shabby chic styled design of the owner’s fashioning.
The garden, which flowers best in May and June, is similar to the house, but with more of a rustic or English country feel than brocante. Particularly from the outside as in the picture above.
The owner sells some of the items on display in the house and garden such as vintage items, trinkets, handmade garments and garden goods as well. There is a large display in the little alcove under the house and garden, beside the car port.
Please note in 2020 and 2021 you now need to book in advance to visit Herbal House on account of the Coronavirus.
It does explain on the official website and on various social media websites, that you pay 500 yen in and get a drink and beverage. But I wasn’t sure of the finer details of this type of system until I went today.
Basically, you walk into the house like you would into a shop or cafe, except you take your shoes off as is customary Japanese practice. You can roam around the small garden before that if you wish, and there is no problems taking photos. But at one point you need to go into the house. This is where you pay.
It is 500 yen for the entry into the open house / garden and a decent sized pot of herbal tea and slice of cake. Served in the brocante style of the house and garden. There is no menu, no choice; one size fits all so to speak. You can sit inside or out. There are only a few seats outside. Inside there are three tables each seating at least four people.
When I visited today it was very busy. More than normal from all accounts. Without having to say a word I was whisked to a seat, in a manner that made me feel instantly relaxed and welcome. It is sort of hard to describe. The very gracious owner may well have a bit of Ghibli magic in her.
I don’t know if she knew it was my first time, but before I had time to ask how it all works I was sipping herbal tea and indulging on delicious home made flan. All the while talking to an amicable regular and feeling very much at home. On a busy day like today, customers share a table.
When the next customers came in I noticed they handed her money as she served them tea. But I waited until I was leaving the house to photograph and enjoy the quaint (but very small) garden to pay. I paid her through a small opening in the wall between one room and the kitchen, where she prepares the flan and teas.
—-Herbal House, Yoshimi, Saitama Prefecture—-
For the record, as a lover of flowers, trees and gardens, I was drawn to Herbal House for the garden rather than the house. I am not normally a fan of shabby chic style, but I can and do appreciate the work, eye and artistic style of the owner. The house was more impressive than I expected it to be and I was awed by the detail of the decoration. I left feeling very refreshed. There is something very therapeutic about the place.
Tidbit: there is another open house and garden next door with the same system.
Herbal House Information
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only. Please note that since 2020, due to the pandemic, you now need to book in advance to visit Herbal House. In 2023, you can do that by DM on Instagram.
Cost: 500 yen
Address: 971-65 Nagayatsu,Yoshimi-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken 355-0156
Phone number: 0493-54-2587
What an adventure Google Maps brought me on to get to Herbal House. It brought me through unused dirt roads. If you come from the East though you avoid having to go through (what seemed like) a haunted forest. But no matter which way you come, the last stretch of road is extremely narrow. You can park on the road outside Herbal, but you park at your own risk. There is a car park down the hill that has a stairs leading to the road the open house is on.
There was a pair of customers there today that had walked all the way from Higashimatsuyama station on the Tobu Tojo line. It took them an hour and a half as they were chatting and taking it easy, but you could do the walk in an hour according to the owner. They had printed off a copy of the detailed map on the official website, which I recommend doing due to the obscure location of the house.
It is located close to Natural Cafe Sora, which is a great cafe for babies, toddlers and young children.