Bake: A Renovated Kyoto Townhouse Turned into a Cheese Tart Shop

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all photos by Takumi Ota

Bake isn’t any ordinary pastry shop. Although its roots date back 33 years to a small pastry business in Hokkaido, today it functions more like a tech startup. It has an R&D lab, as well as a web magazine. And with creative side-projects like Pictcake (upload smartphone photo and print it on a cake) and 99chocolate (customize your own chocolate bars) the company is defying many stereotypes associated with Japanese companies. So it’s no surprise that their latest shop in Kyoto blends traditional architecture and woodwork with Lego.

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Despite its many spokes, Bake’s signature brand and item is their cheese tart, which is sold at a shop called “Bake Cheese Tart.” So when they were looking to expand into Kyoto they hired architect Yusuke Seki to help craft their image in a Kyoto shopping district.

“The layers of Japanese history remain deepest and most wholly intact here,” says Seki, who helped renovate an old kominca townhouse. But at the same time, a dramatic influx of tourists has “modulated” tradition. So the architect decided to take a more experimental approach with the shop. A re-conceptualization of what it means to be “local” led to the selection of diverse building materials.

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“Cheese tarts, freshly baked in the open kitchen at the back of the store, are soon lined up and displayed on a counter constructed of Lego.” The thinking, according to Seki, is that the universal appeal of Lego will create a shared language between those of different cultures. But to maintain authenticity and pay homage to its locality, the shop employs shitaji-mado, a lattice framework technique traditionally used in the construction of Japanese teahouses.

The shop opened for business this summer in Kyoto and is a 5 min walk from Kawaramachi Station (Map).

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2 Comments

  1. It’s also worth noting that these are the best cheese tarts ever

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