* “月と六ペンスTsukitorokupensu” is the direct translation of the title of a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, “The Moon and Sixpence”. According to the café guide, 京都とっておきのカフェKyoto Totte-Oki no Café, being fond of the novel due to the main character with whom he empathizes, the master of the café decided to name the café after the book.
At the intersection of 高倉通Takakura Street and 二条通Nijo Street is a small, retro building that looks more like an apartment complex, so it’s no surprise that I passed it a couple of times when I first went earlier this year in the afternoon before noticing the subtle but cute little sign that points one up to the second floor (the picture was taken on my way home that day).
looking up at the café from Nijo Street at night
The stairs that one must take are quite dark and steep. The door to the café is next to the stairwell but I still hesitated to go in; if it weren’t for the handmade signs, I could have sworn that it opened into someone’s room.
Upon entering I was greeted with dim lighting and a warm and cozy temperature revealed by the fogged windows (being March it was still quite chilly outside). Besides soft music and the sounds of the reserved master of the café (who mans it all by himself) moving around busily to accomodate the customers who were immersed in reading books that they had brought or indulged in the many books already there (mostly in Japanese) provided for the customers’ reading pleasure, the place was almost silent. Even people who were there in pairs whispered to each other, as to not break the peaceful mood.
postcards, etc. for sale
the middle section of the café
the island kitchen where the master prepares our orders alone
I took an open seat in the middle and had just put my belongings in a basket at my feet when I was immediately greeted with water and a menu stuck to boards of wood. I had come with a purpose: to try its recommended thick slice of honey and cinnamon toast; I also ordered a hot café au lait. It took some time for me to get my order since the master was still working on the orders of those before me but I was in no hurry, just pulled out some long-overdue work and before long, my order came.
ハチミツシナモントーストhachimitsu shinamon toosuto (honey-cinnamon toast), ￥450, and ホットカフェオレ hoto cafe ore (hot café au lait), ￥550
The pool of honey on top of my thick toast would have stirred up anyone’s appetite, and how perfectly toasted it was! The café au lait was a stronger flavor than I was used to but still delicious and the perfect drink for the toast….here is the picture for the (elegant) iced version of the café au lait.
After my first visit, I went another three times, all within a week’s span of each other, because I kept craving the toasted goodies there…if only he’d come over every morning and toast me bread for breakfast.☺
The third time that I went earlier in the afternoon on a weekday, there were more seats open, so I chose a seat looking out on the Nijo-Takakura intersection, my first time…the owner remembered me requesting a fork the first time that I ordered the honey-cinnamon toast (got café au lait again, too) and supplied me with one this time.☺
the fourth time I went in early evening: comforting, like being at home
Besides the food and drinks, the atmosphere is ideal for those who want to read, write, study, work or just think, alone. No matter what turmoil from which you came, once you step inside Tsukitorokupensu, all that melts away and you just snuggle into the therapeutic peace that the place offers you…when you leave, you actually take a bit of that peace with you in your heart.
Update: A little over a year later, I went back to Tsukitorokupensu because I just wanted to get caught up from the week without having to talk to anyone and that’s the type of atmosphere that I’m provided there.
I ordered the イングリッシュマフィンサンド ・ハチミツバターIngurisshu mafin sando- hachimitsu bataa (honey-butter English muffin), ￥380 (I had this for the first time my second time here), this time with アイスコーヒーaisu koohii (ice coffee), ￥500, because it was warmer than when I’d come during colder seasons.
As I was paying after my relaxing stay there, the owner said, “お久しぶりです。O-hisashiburi desu. (It’s been a while (since you last came).)” I was so pleasantly surprised that he remembered me and so impressed at his good memory! I’ll be going back again for sure, and I told him exactly that! ☺
Update: About seven months after the last visit, I went to Tsukitorokupensu to concentrate on writing New Year cards (I was running late on getting them out!). I ordered hot café au lait and the NY チーズケーキcheesecake, ￥970. Rich and creamy, it was one of the fluffiest cheesecakes I’ve had (it lasted me a long time and was pretty much melting when I finished it). It’d be worth having again when I get a cheesecake craving.
Update: Ten months since I last went (I’d been back twice but I didn’t write about it because I just had the same things I’ve had before), I finally went to Tsukitorokupensu in the late afternoon since Fumie-san had mentioned being hooked on the cafe recently. I chose the seat that one sees straight ahead upon entering the cafe. I ordered the café au lait and コーンビーフとポテトサラダのサンドイッチkohn-biifu to poteto sarada no sandoicchi (corned beef & potato salad sandwich), ￥500, since I hadn’t had anything since late morning. The sandwich was more croque monsieur-style topped with cheese; inside was a thin layer each of corned beef and potato salad as well as small slices of tomatoes but they still oozed out when cut. It was still good, however, and proved to be just the thing to tide me over, along with that yummy café au lait, until I met A’ishah, Taka and the Shijukus in Kameoka for dinner. There were no groups today, only hitori-samas, so it was a quiet as I remember it, just perfect for unwinding and organizing my thoughts.
Address: 京都市中京区二条通高倉西入る松屋町62 杉野ビル201 Kyoto-shi. Nakakyo-ku. Nijo-dori. Takakura Nishi-hairu. Matsuya-cho 62. Sugino Bldg. 201
Telephone number: 090-9058-8976
Access: 地下鉄烏丸御池線丸太町駅から徒歩約8分 one-minute walk from Subway Karasuma Line Marutamachi Station、地下鉄東西線市役所前駅から徒歩10分 10-minute walk from Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station…no parking available but there are several car parks nearby.
Business Hours: 12:00~8:00pm
Café Holiday: Sunday & some national holidays (see “information” on the café homepage for details)