Last year, Suzuya celebrated its 70th anniversary, making it one of the oldest kissaten (traditional coffee shops) in Kyoto. To the best of my knowledge, only Salon de The Francois — which opened in the interwar period — pips it for longevity.

From outside, it’s hard to discern how much has changed at Suzuya since it opened. Just right of the door is a small alcove where you can buy tobacco, which is still manned. Even though I was seated only a few meters away I could never fully make out who was in there. It’s one of those mysteries unique to kissaten that are best left as mysteries.

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