Japanese-Inspired ‘Basho Cafe’ in Vancouver - Opened by a Japanese Family

 A Japanese-inspired ‘Basho Cafe’ (2007 E.Hastings Street, Tel: 604-428-6276) has opened for about two months since its opening at the east side of Vancouver in February. The cafe is familiar with local people as well as Japanese living in Canada and popular with regular customers. The number of customers has increased steadily.

 The cafe is run by Hiroshi Kawai, Miju Kawai and their daughter, Moeno. The couple owned a sushi restaurant in North Vancouver for 14 years and they had retired before. Miju ‘is originally fond of having interaction with people and making something.’ She had spent slow life in focusing on her hobbies, such as yoga and ceramic art. Her ambition to ‘stay close to customers and make them happy by her own art works’ was gradually increased and then she came to think about opening a cafe. She came up the ideas of what kind of cafe she would open after she looked around several styles of cafes travelling in Berlin, Brussels and Tokyo.

 The cafe is 800 square feet and has 16 seating. With calming music selected by Moeno, who likes records, Hiroshi’s hand-made wooden table and seats are simple but gives warm atmosphere and decoration of stained glass adds brightness. Miju ‘tried to create natural and warm environment by hiding artificial and chilly-impressed materials like plastics and vinyl.’ She said, ‘Well-organized and too much good-looking cafe give hesitance to eat in due to high level. Each of lighting and small objects shows a good impression although they are bought in different places like antique markets and recycling shops.’ She ‘hopes to create non-Wifi, analog space and relaxed atmosphere as she recently looks at those who study and work in cafes by using their computers everywhere.’

 Miju said, ‘The cafe name “Basho” reminds some people who are familiar with Japanese culture of Basho Matsuo.’ She selected short-spelling and easy words to remember for both Japanese and English. She named the cafe with the meaning of a ‘“place” for a lot of people to come happily,’ ‘“place” to make them relaxed and stretched out,’ ‘“place” to gather with buddies,’ ‘special “place” for each of them to stay in.’ She said with a smile, ‘I want to welcome old couples, groups of mothers with their children, the young who want to read books alone and those who want to knit over cups of tea and show the feeling like “Everyone, come to my house”.’

 The menu provided in the cafe is: ‘Tuna Tataki’ (CAD 9.50), ‘Teri Pulled Pork’ (CAD 8), Daily Soup (CAD 4). Moeno also bakes sweets with gluten-free (CAD 0.50 to 3), such as macaroons, cookies, brownies and mini muffins, in a careful manner every day. They also serve drinks at a reasonable price: Drinks (CAD 2.50 to 4) like Espresso and Cappuccino with coffee beans by local roaster ‘Hand Works Coffee Studio,’ Loose-leaf Tea(CAD 2.85) by ‘Tea Guy,’ Hot Chocolate (CAD 3.5) and Basho Chai Latte (CAD 3.25).

 Miju said, ‘I’m excited to come to work as I expect what kinds of customer will visit us today. I’ve come up with ideas one after another. I live a happy “life” every day. I want to do what three of us can by “cooperating with each other mentally and physically”.’ Her future resolution is ‘to provide Japanese menu and many kinds of gluten-free food after creating new recipes as the menu with matcha is very popular.’

 Operating hours: 9:00 ~ 17:00 (until 16:00 on Saturday and Sunday). Monday and Tuesday closed.

(Translated by Hiroko Shioda)