Sightseeing in Shikoku: The Abandoned School Cafe Haretoke (ハレとケ珈琲) - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sightseeing in Shikoku: The Abandoned School Cafe Haretoke (ハレとケ珈琲)

As many other rural areas of Japan the Tokushima Prefecture is struggling with the side effects of an aging society. Surrounded by nature the number of people is steadily decreasing, leading to abandoned villages (or villages with more scarecrows than people) and empty buildings. During my recent trip to Tokushima we stopped by a school that closed down some years ago and that has been turned into a posh cafe drawing tourists from near and far.

It is not easy to get around Tokushima with public transport, so I would recommend either using a rental car or hire a driver to take you around. We went for the second alternative, and had a private chauffeur who took us around. After having driven through the picturesque Iya Valley we arrived at the school where we stopped for lunch at what used to be classroom 101.

Above & below: The corridor to the schoolyard displaying names of the pupils who graduated the elementary school. All of the school years there were only 1-3 graduating pupils.

Except for a couple of parked cars there was no sign of life outside the school building. We had to pass through a corridor and up a staircase to get to the schoolyard where the cafe was situated. On the way there we passed wall paintings with the name of the kids that had graduated from the elementary school in the past. It was usually no more than 1-3 graduating children written down per school year. 
The cafe itself was situated in one of the former classrooms. On one of the walls there was a big blackboard, and the room had a number of items on display that most likely had been used for educational purposes in the past.
The cafe menu written on the classroom blackboard. The menu is written both in Japanese and English.

The cafe offered two types of dishes; Pizza and curry. Along with regular types of topping they also offered a couple of more exotic alternatives such as pizza with deer meat and pizza with mackerel in lemon sauce for the more adventurous visitors. It is uncertain how often they change their menu, but they did have an English menu available so you can order without worrying about unpredicted surprises.

Above: Curry with deer meat

Dessert pizza with honey and walnuts
By the entrance to the cafe they had a small display of souvenirs for sale. If you want to support the store a little extra you can find among others cute jewelry and locally produced tea here.
After our cozy lunch we walked around the schoolyard to take a closer look at the surroundings. The neighbor room to the cafe had a little library where visitors were allowed to enter and read books for free. The schoolyard was spacious and neat, and even though the school doesn't offer any classes for children anymore it seems it is still utilized by families with small children as a place to hang out and meet other locals.
Visiting this closed-down elementary school turned cafe was definitely a unique Tokushima-experience. If you have the chance to go to Iya Valley and want to travel around it can absolutely be recommended as a unique place to stop by for lunch!

 Basic Info
  • ・ Haretoke (ハレとケ珈琲)
  • ・Address:Onishi-15 Ikedacho Ori, Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture 779-5164, Japan
  • ・Homepage:
  • ・Opening Hours: 
    • [Mon・Tue・Thur・Fri] 11:00~17:00
    • [Sat・Sun・Public holidays] 11:00~18:00
    • [Not open on Tuesdays]
  • ・Access: By car or taxi. Nearest train station is Iyaguchi (祖谷口)

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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