When traveling I try to look for a cafe to visit daily. Cafes are restorative places where I can collect my thoughts, glance through the gathered ephemera (museum tickets, train passes, maps, calling cards, photographs), write postcards (well, updates these days using the wi-fi), and find that elixir of caffeine and sugar to help propel me forward. Cafes have a familiar rhythm: the whirr of the espresso maker, the staccato of silverware on ceramic, the squeak of chairs coming together, the melange of conversation and gossip: it’s a mnemonic to help remember past experiences.
Park Cafe in Kyoto is one of those cafes to visit daily. At the margin of the downtown shopping area and tucked under a “How Itaponese Eats” banner Park Cafe opens at noon and stays open late and serves Italian inspired salads, pastas, risottos, pizzas and soups, all modestly priced. The staff, with their lightened hair and lithe frames slid into acid washed jeans and rock-and-roll t-shirts, is decidely hip and ready to offer great food suggestions. The mango smoothie was refreshing, macchiatos effective; I was particularly fond of the desserts: the pear tart, more fruit than pastry, and the fig pie, a semi-sweet pie with figs buttoned like chocolate coins.
So go and rest in one of its armchairs and gaze upon Kyoto with its mix of new and old (men in sharkskin suits, women dressed in traditional kimonos) and delight in the moments of daydreaming that people have had at good cafes for time immemorial.