On a stage of ‘A story of Rokuyosha’
Text & Photo / Kenta Baba
“It’s like I am watching a movie everyday. Whenever I stand here, ‘life story’ will come from that door. Just like that.”
I asked Mr.Osamu Okuno ,who has been at his coffee shop, Rokuyosha, for 42 years, about what he thinks while he serves his customers there and the words above are what I got.
He laughed and joked around saying, “So that my job is unexpectedly easy.”
I got the reason why people love this place so much through his eyes. It is not because of the coffee he serves, nor himself, it is because you play ‘the leading part’ at this place.
This coffee shop, Rokuyosha, has protected its place for 70 years even though it is located in a center of down town area which has been changed so many already. It’s been through various times, and a large variety of people gather around and talk each other regardless of their jobs and ages, and it has become a place like a public salon.
I’ve seen so many old coffee shops with a history people have piled up so far and I would like to say that they are the ‘fortune’ of the city.
I thought that these places will never change its atmosphere or anything since its beginning, but the truth is that I just didn’t know anything about what was going on inside.
Rokuyosha has a first floor and a basement floor. I am going to introduce you the basement floor at this time. It feels totally different atmosphere from the noises of city above ground.
The interior of Rokuyosha has never changed since 1965 and 1st floor has been opened since then.
The basement floor will become a bar after 6:00 p.m. and you can see so many kinds of whisky bottles behind a counter.
These unique tiles are not custom-made but just a tile from a regular tile shop at that time. I was amazed by a Japanese high leveled craftsmanship in 1960 even it came from a regular shop.
“This building has never changed, but our customers and me are continuously changing in a good way.”
According to Mr.Osamu, he feels that an old coffee shops are becoming a trend now again. On the other hand, he knows that he had been through a real tough time back then. The busiest time ever was the time that his father, Mr.Minoru Okuno managed this place. When ‘CAFE’ became a huge trend before, people immediately thought that the coffee shop is just an old-fashioned and they started being away from it.
At the beginning of 1980s, Mr.Osamu started ‘roasting coffee beans’ by himself. He also turned the basement floor into the coffee shop from a bar, which he managed at a night time, and served customers paper drip coffee one by one out of so many kinds of coffee beans he roasted. At the same time, he started selling coffee beans as well. Nowadays, we can see so a lot of ‘Home roasting coffee’ place everywhere, but it was rare at that time. The richness of the taste and its style became popular among those people who love coffee and Rokuyosha thrived perfectly again.
He totally changed the course of its own future and moreover he made a new stream in this coffee industry. So many people got inspired by Mr.Osamu and trained themselves to become a master of a coffee shop.
However, he said, “I actually don’t like to talk about coffee at my place.”
He is able to make any coffee that you like. When you ask him about coffee, then he will tell you so many things. He spends hours and hours to roast coffee beans after he comes back home.
After he gets order, he grinds coffee beans then makes a paper drip coffee one by one. There is no unnecessary movement through his refined process and you will be served on time with a cup of delicious coffee.
He still told me that talking about a coffee is a rubbish thing. The reason is rooted in a ‘place’ as a coffee shop.
“When you go to a coffee shop, somebody will be there. Even though you don’t see anyone there, you just read a book and go home. That’s how I spent my youth period.”
A cup of coffee is just a thing right next to you. The most important thing at a coffee shop is a story right next to a cup of coffee that people talk about and things come out from the book you read. It just happens when you don’t realize it.
“A coffee shop has a place that you talk to the nature and also to the people. I just prepare the place that everyone can meet something. That’s my job.”
A donut made by Mrs.Okuno is a speciality of Rokuyosha. it miraculously gets along with a cup of coffee.
Mr.Osamu simply brews coffee just like everyday. He doesn’t try to talk to anyone. If I have to exaggerate it, I would say that Rokuyosha is a stage and whoever works there, delicious coffee and donut are outstanding supporting actors and actresses. A star is everyone who steps into this coffee shop. If I need to say all the name of famous celebrities, musicians, and writers who came here, I probably will never end at all, but you are going to become one of them regardless of being somebodies or nobodies.
Probably I said too much, but what I want to say is that I am just jealous that people who live in Kyoto is able to visit Rokuyosha anytime they want. Seriously.
I actually asked him if I can work on my laptop computer there since I might broke its atmosphere, but he said, “No worries, if you need to charge your PC then here it is. However, unfortunately, we don’t have wifi. haha. and also I am not going to kick you out even though you stay here hours and hours.” What a generous mind he has. If I come here next time, I will bring book or some minds that I have to think deeply maybe.
ADDRESS : B1F, Higashigawa, Sanjo-sagaru, Kawaramachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto city (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-241-3026
HOURS : 12:00 p.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. (coffee time) 6:00 p.m. ~ 12:00 a.m. (bar time)
CLOSED : Wednesday (bar opens everyday)