11 min read
May 6, 2024 3:42:45 PM

There was an interesting conversation during our previous chat.

While looking at the laundry I've hung up inside the house, I often think, "I don't feel like making the effort to brew coffee". (omitted)... I suppose I'm always collecting snippets of memories from various cafés I've visited, places that I've liked or found appealing.

Nobuka, you mentioned that rather than memorizing an entire café, you break down what you like into fragments and store them in your mind. These fragmented memories of cafés, it seems, have also been utilized in the layout and interior design of your current apartment.

Today, we talked in-depth with Nobuka, who has used our favorite cafés as inspiration for her home, about how she incorporates and makes use of these elements.
Our conversation started with a simple question: what kind of cafés do you like?

Memories of Amsterdam

avatar_talk_yubaWhen I was working in my previous job (as a flight attendant), one of the cities I often visited was Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It remains one of my favorite cities, and when I think of my favorite café, an establishment in Amsterdam always comes to mind.

It was a very everyday sort of place, a café where I felt I could settle down as if it were my own space. I believe there are many things in my home that are connected to that place.


avatar_talk_karikomiCan you describe that café in detail?


avatar_talk_yubaFor instance, a feature I've incorporated into my kitchen is part of the wall covered with old bricks. I think the ceiling was over 3 meters high with fans swirling around.



avatar_talk_yubaThe menu was chalked up on a blackboard, and atop the long counter were freshly baked breads, freshly squeezed juices, and scones.

I would purposefully wake up early to have breakfast at that café. Excitedly, I'd walk from the hotel... always pondering while in the queue whether to have a BLT or a bagel with avocado. Which one shall I eat today? I really loved the scene I'd witness while waiting in line.



avatar_talk_yubaYou could see the city's people coming and going through the window. Beyond the café, a marché would stretch to the next town on weekends.

Since we were staying a bit away from the city center, the local vibe was very appealing. I felt like I was part of that life, which was somehow comforting.


Comfort in Being Part of the City



avatar_talk_karikomiOver the decades, you've seen countless cafés both in Japan and abroad, but it's always that Dutch café that comes to mind. What makes it different? Why does it remain your ideal café? What about it is so captivating that you've brought it into your home?


avatar_talk_yubaHmm. Well…
Maybe it's the familiar, old feeling. It wasn't necessarily a trendy café. It was a place loved by locals, where neighbors could come and go freely. Somehow, that was comfortable.

2014-09-30 22.02.42


avatar_talk_yubaThere were a few cafés nearby, and I was interested in the new ones that were popping up, which I found intriguing. But they didn't last. The sense of calm was overwhelmingly greater in this café. I guess fitting in is a crucial element.


Getting Closer Over Time



avatar_talk_karikomiYou mentioned at the beginning that there are "many things in your home that are connected" to this café, like the old brick wall and the ceiling fans. Is it a matter of incorporating these elements to make the image complete?


avatar_talk_yubaAt a glance, it may seem complete, but I think something there might require time to settle in.


avatar_talk_karikomiListening to why you like it, I feel like you're finding the beauty of the café in the way it blends into the city and the way the locals live their lives.




avatar_talk_karikomiIf the café only really exists in that particular city, then isn't it somewhat different when you take a piece of it and bring it into your home? It's comforting because it fits into the city. It feels like it might take time for you to feel comfortable in this home.


avatar_talk_yubaI think I'm always in the process of incorporating and getting closer. I wonder if this is the right answer. When we repaint walls or change the layout of furniture, it takes a little time to get used to it, doesn't it?



avatar_talk_yubaQuite recently, we redid the wall with plaster, didn't we? We used a trowel, with our own hands. At the time, we wondered if it was okay to be this rough. The first day felt very uncertain. But after a week, it started to feel like it had been that way from the beginning.

You have a comforting space in mind, a space you want to emulate, and you adjust your wall accordingly. But on the first day, you don't know if this was the right choice. After two or three days, you start to think, "Maybe this is okay," and after a week, it settles down. I think we've accepted the rough feel of the hand-painted texture and the shadows cast when the light hits it, bit by bit.




avatar_talk_yubaSo, I'm not talking about a long period of time... but when you change something that's been there for a while, I think a little doubt emerges.
To actually feel like, "Yes, I'm getting closer to the space I love," I think it takes a bit of time. Yes.


The Journey to Discovering Your Preferences image



avatar_talk_karikomiWhile you're talking about a space you aspire to and want to emulate, not everyone has a clear idea of what that is. You can say it because you have a history.
As a child, you enjoyed fantasizing about floor plans in real estate ads, and you've kept watching the TV show "Building Exploration" for decades. Even now that the show has moved to the early morning, you still record and watch it.
You have a database accumulated within you, so you can make judgments on your own. But if you can't, where do you start? You have to embark on a journey to find what you like. How should you go about it?


The Scene from Your Favorite Seat in Your Favorite Café

2012-10-05 17.11.13


avatar_talk_karikomiWhat should you do if you don't know what you like?


avatar_talk_yubaDo you have a favorite café?


avatar_talk_karikomiStart with a café, huh?


avatar_talk_yubaIf a favorite café comes to mind instantly, try visiting it several times. If you have one, aim for your favorite seat there.
By the way, in my case, I have certain seats that I hope will be available when I get there.
Why do you want to sit in that particular seat, why does it make you feel most at ease, what do you see when you sit there? While sipping your coffee alone, try observing what you think you like. I think you might feel something, something you can take home with you.


avatar_talk_karikomiSo, look for the seat you want to sit in, find something that intrigues you, and use that as a starting point.


avatar_talk_yubaYes, I think there are elements to be found.
For example, in my case, if there's a counter, I want to sit alone at the end. I like to sit in a seat where I don't make eye contact with the staff, and just quietly enjoy my coffee and toast. I want to be left alone…



avatar_talk_yubaI enjoy watching the staff making drip coffee or brewing with a siphon across the counter. But I don't particularly want to talk. I like the presence of people, but I want to be left alone (laughs).
So at home, I wanted to have a counter, even a small one. After all, when I'm in the kitchen at home, I'm not the café owner.
I'm both the one sitting and the one brewing coffee, so I've incorporated both roles.



avatar_talk_yubaThinking about it in this way, until now, I simply liked going there and spending time there, just relaxing and spacing out while drinking coffee. But considering it more seriously and frequenting the place with this mindset could be interesting.

Photographs, Composition, Text: Karikomi / Speaker: Nobuka

Topics: cafe intelior