When I first moved to Kochi City in Shikoku, I thought it would be difficult to find good cafes. As someone who had spent a good portion of the past six years writing essays in coffee shops, this seemed like it would be at least a minor obstacle in my adjustment to life in Japan. You can imagine my surprise when I began discovering the numerous cafes Kochi has hidden away, many of which are within walking (or at least biking) distance from my apartment. Kitakubo is at the northeastern end of Kochi, about a fifteen-minute train ride plus walk from Kochi station.
After a quick trip to the post office one day after work, I decided to indulge my minor coffee-and-cake addiction by stopping by Books 30 60 90. The cafe is quite simple and modern, as is the furniture and other home decor products sold in Attract Largo, the adjoining store.
The two cake options that day were mocha and rose. Despite generally being a bit dubious about flower-flavored desserts after an unfortunate lavender gelato incident, I opted for the rose cake. I was not disappointed. The rose flavor, as well as the overall consistency of the cake, were light and delicious. Books 30 60 90 gets its cakes from Patisserie Negrita in Obiyamachi, as does Tempo, another nearby cafe.
The coffee was also quite good, as it was on my previous visit. Books 30 60 90 does not, however, offer espresso-based coffees, but there is a selection of tea in addition to regular drip coffee. I was also pleased to find out that they have now started offering savory and sweet galettes such as chicken curry or chocolate and nuts. Although the menu on their website is in Japanese, the photos and prices will give you a good idea of what this cafe has to offer.
On the opposite side of Books 30 60 90’s wall of books is Attract Largo, a modern home decor and furniture store. The first store was opened in 2000 as the city began developing Kochi’s suburbs. This specific location opened six years later. Attract Largo’s stock, which is chosen for its functional beauty (機能美 – kinoubi), includes Danish-designed furniture from Bang & Olufsen and Fritz Hansen, USM modular furniture, and the Swiss Vitra and Artek brands among others. All of the pieces are simple and elegant.
There’s more merchandise on the second floor, but there’s also a small gallery and event hall. On my last visit, photos had been displayed, but this time, the gallery was preparing for the Artek 80 Travel Exhibition, which was featured from May 13th until May 29th of 2016. The event hall is available for rent and is used as a space to promote writers, artists, and musicians from within Kochi Prefecture.
Most of the shops in Kitakubo don’t seem like much from the outside. Sheet metal and concrete make many of the buildings look more like industrial storage containers than high-end shops. I’d ridden my bike past the side street that Books 30 60 90 is on many times without realizing what was there. However, Books 30 60 90 and Attract Largo, as well as the other shops and cafes in the area, clearly make taking a detour to Kitakubo worth it. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?