MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – A man from Ehime Prefecture opened a cafe last May on a tiny uninhabited island near the city of Matsuyama, in what he described as an attempt to bring one of his favorite childhood haunts back to life.
Visiting the island, locally known as Kashima, in February 2013 for the first time in two decades, Go Kajiwara, 44, recalled finding it “somewhat quiet, although well maintained.”
“I wondered if I could turn it into a place where people can interact with each other,” he said.
Now the president of an event-organizing company in the city, Kajiwara spent a lot of his childhood on Kashima, a mere 400 meters — or three-minute ship ride — away.
With a circumference of only 1.5 km, the island has a campsite, offering an easygoing resort space for people in the area.
Kajiwara opened Sea and Cafe in a park where wild deer wander.
Customers can take off their shoes on its wooden floor and relax under a “kotatsu” (electric table heater) or lie down on big sofas. There are also outside tables and chairs for customers who visit during spells of sunny weather.
Out of the shop’s windows and across the sea are the streets and mountains of the prefectural capital.
“I hope people will make the cafe a space where they can reset their minds,” Kajiwara said. “I hope people can face themselves there while feeling the peaceful stream of time.”
Visiting the cafe with her friends, Natsumi Umemoto, 32, from Matsuyama, told her workplace troubles to one of the cafe staff while warming herself at the kotatsu.
She left the cafe with a smile, saying, “It’s like being enveloped by nature here and I feel much better now.”
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