Sometimes you just have to follow a hunch.
I was looking for a side trip to make from Kyoto to “max out” the use of my JR rail pass and came across a website featuring Himeji Castle, the largest castle in Japan. The castle has never been demolished before (perhaps thanks to the sheer scale of it), but restoration works are currently under way and there’s a huge scaffold obscuring the front.
Still, I’m glad I travelled down to Himeji because otherwise I would never have come across Saredo bookcafe. Think floor to ceiling bookshelves stacked with books. All used, mostly in Japanese, but (as far as I can tell) in every genre possible.
The real gem (and reason why it’s a bookcafe) though, is the second floor which is a cosy little loft that has more books, a seating area, and a record player. Yes, they have vinyls for sale here! At anything from 500¥ to 800¥, you can pick up a mix of used Japanese pressings for cheap, and enjoy them while you partake in some lovely afternoon tea.
I did the Yuzu tea (550¥), which came with some crackers and a quaint little tea pot. A refreshing sweet/sour drink that absolutely hit the spot. Just don’t ask me how I managed to hand carry five vinyls (with their sleeves) all the way back to Singapore after that…