As of January 2011, Wafûan has closed the tea house to make a gallery, but you can still sample Nakaura-ya’s wagashi with a bit of green tea on the first floor.
We here on the Ishikawa JET Blog love our cafes and coffee shops, but where do you go to get a good cup of matcha (抹茶) without attending a tea ceremony? A friend recently introduced me to Wafûan, a tea house situated on the second floor of the 中浦屋 (わいち本店), the Waichi location a okashi (お菓子), or Japanese sweets shop, called Nakaura-ya (中浦屋) in Wajima.
The front of the shop at night.
Wafûan’s name is a pun: 和風 (wafû) means Japanese-style, but the first kanji has been changed to the wa of Wajima (輪島). An (庵) means retreat or hermitage. Indeed, this is a great place to hide out from the winter winds.
I love the atmosphere of this place as much as I love the tea and okashi. The décor is simple, with the wooden walls, floors, and furniture evoking the browns and blacks of Wajima lacquerware. The tables and chairs are Western-style, which is great if you aren’t a fan of sitting in seiza (正座) on cushions. The windows let in enough light that the atmosphere isn’t gloomy or stuffy, a constant complaint I have about the coffee shops around here.
Seasonal okashi: yuzu flavor
What is unique about Wafûan is that everything is served in/on real Wajima lacquerware. The dishes are gorgeous, and it was worth it just to be able to hold and use real lacquerware. This would be a great experience for your friends and family to experience tea culture and get to use fancy lacquerware dishes in a low-pressure environment.
The menu is Japanese only, and the prices are written in Japanese numbers—instead of ￥500, for example, the price is written 五百円. The menu changes a bit seasonally, but there’s coffee (kouhii, 珈琲–the old kanji!), black tea (koucha, 紅茶), matcha, and a yuzu drink, hot or cold. The sweets menu includes, for winter, zenzai (ぜんざい) or white zenzai, a sweet azuki-based soup with mochi. There’s several varieties of anmitsu (あんみつ、餡蜜), a parfait-like dessert of agar jelly and anko, and ice cream (aisu kuriimu, アイスクリーム). The most economical option is to order a set: there’s a seasonal okashi and drink set; an anmitsu-and-drink set and a mochi-and-drink set. (The drink is your choice.)
I ordered a seasonal okashi set and had the choice between three different kinds of okashi, two of which were yuzu-based (柚子, sometimes called citron in English). I choose a yuzu manjû; my set was a cup of matcha, two small gummy okashi and a yuzu manjû.*
Read more of this post