In the peaceful town of Minami-Oguni (Kumamoto Prefecture) is Takenokuma, a new cafe inspired by the many water sources that flow freely from nearby Mt. Aso. These water sources manifest themselves in many ways including rivers, hot springs and channels that flow into the abundant rice paddies, all of which inform the “water-centered architecture.”

Takenokuma Kissa opened last year in May, and was designed by architect Toru Shimokawa (previously). The structure is defined largely by two elements – the wooden roof, which extends through the different areas of the cafe, and the body of water, which gently envelopes the structure like a garden. Tying it all together is the concept of ‘outdoor architecture’. There is no indoor lighting and the majority of the spaces are exposed to the natural elements.

Taking advantage of the elevations that originally existed on the site, Shimokawa created floors of various levels; at times, visitors feel like they are floating on water while at other times the they feel like they are beneath water.

All of the wood was sourced locally from Oguni cedar trees, which surround the site. And aromas of cedar wood waft from the sawmill across the street. What further grounds this cafe to its local environment is that it was crafted entirely by local artisans.

Takenokuma’s menu emphasis local dishes and beverages that incorporate rice grown from nearby paddies, as well as craft beers, coffee and seasonal vinegar ciders whose flavors rely on the natural spring water.

Takenokuma is open from 11:00am – 3:30pm. They’re closed Thursdays and Fridays. You can keep up with them on Instagram.