Smiley Isanuma cafe in a Kominka in Kawagoe

Smiley is the name of a cafe in a Kominka in the Isanuma area of Kawagoe. The cafe is located in a Kominka: a traditional type of farmhouse, quintessential of rural Japan before the war. it is a ‘time share’ eatery – in the morning, until 2 pm, the kominka operates as an udon restaurant. From 2.30 pm Smiley has the space. They currently close at 5 pm, but when they first opened they had a bar at night too. It might come back in the future.

Smiley

Kominka Gate of Smiley

Despite being a good bit away from the tourist district of Koedo Kawagoe, Smiley seems to enjoy a roaring trade. Its not unusual for a new cafe to be busy when it first opens, but its been two years now and Smiley continues to flourish. So much so, that they have a note on the door that you could be waiting an hour for your food.

Menu

The menu is actually quite small, with just pancakes, a burger and drinks. But they offer a seasonal pancake which seems to keep people coming back time and time again. At the time of writing this in August 2023 the seasonal pancake was a mint theme. Currently in May 2024, until May 12th, the special is a milk tea flavor:

Kominka

As an old farmhouse, the entrance is the same level as outdoors. Then there is a steep step into the old house and seating area of the cafe. They have Japanese style kotatsu tables on the left and table and chairs on the right.

Outdoors

Outdoors Isanuma Smiley

The featured photo at the top of the post and the photo above were taken on my first visit in the summer of 2021. That year they had mowed the lawn. This summer, they haven’t! So it wouldn’t be ideal to sit outdoors currently. But when the weather cools down a little, and they’ve cut the grass, they usually put up beautiful red sun umbrellas over the tables.


Sunflowers

Sunflowers at Glin and Smiley
August 24th 2023

There are three different sunflower fields within a walking distance of the cafe. Unfortunately, one of them grew there sunflowers early this year and one of them always grows them in July, so both of those fields are finished for this year. (Unless they also grow Autumn sunflowers, but I wouldn’t hold my breath). Thankfully though, there is one other sunflower field, across the road behind Kawagoe City Agriculture Interaction Center, that have yet to bloom. I checked on them yesterday and they have a good bit of height on them and I would speculate they will start to bloom soon. You can see what they looked like last year in this post:


Information

Cafe: Smiley (some people call it Smiley Isanuma) スマイリー

Season: all year round

Hours: from 2.30 pm to 5 pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Please note, even though the cafe is open until 5 pm, they often close the gate at 4 pm, especially if they’ve had a busy day.

Cost: from 500 yen for drinks and from 1000 yen for pancakes. A pancake and drink set is usually 1300 yen.

Venue: Kominka on the grounds of Isanuma Farmer’s Market, 922-1 Kamoda, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0844. View on Google Maps.

Access

The cafe is on the grounds of the Isanuma Farmer’s Market, which is very popular and often busy. So it can be hard to get a parking spot, especially when the cafe opens for the afternoon. If it is not sunflower season you can generally get a parking spot at the Isanuma East Bank Flower Garden. You might be tempted to park across the road at the Kawagoe City Agriculture Interaction Center, but you will have to ask permission to park there. Moreover, that parking lot is also often full as it has a popular cafe of its own.

There is a bus stop that is around a ten minute walk away.You get a bus from Kawagoe Station bound for Ageo Station West, Kawagoe Sports Park or Kawagoe Medical center, and alight at Kamoda 鴨田 bus stop. There is also a bus that goes to Isanuma Adventure Forest 伊佐沼冒険の森 (formerly just called Isanuma Park 伊佐沼公園) which is about a 20 minute walk away. Furthermore, there is an “Hello Cycling” bike rental station right across the road from the cafe.

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