As my friends and I walked through what I assume is the main shopping mall/arcade in Otaru, I kept glancing down the little side streets and alleyways, in hopes of finding hidden gems (doors or otherwise). It was down one such alleyway that I spotted this rather peculiar building in the distance:
It looked so mysterious and out of place amongst all the pale buildings of cement and steel, so I couldn’t resist taking a closer look. And just look at all that snow piled on its roof!
But we were only partway along the passage when we came across this lovely door with its very welcoming message:
It was the middle of the day, and it was hard to tell if the place was open or, indeed, what they do inside, so we just stopped long enough for a photo and some general speculation about the interior before continuing down the little street. Besides, we had another building to investigate.
I seem to have a thing for walls and fences ensnared in vines, so I was certainly very pleased with the look of this building. I like how the vines kind of look like they’re trying to crawl through the windows too.
Since there’s a little menu board outside, we figured it was a restaurant or cafe or some sort. Perhaps it doesn’t look like the most inviting place (especially compared to the door we’d just passed) but it was so intriguing!
I think I must’ve been too captivated by this place to really notice the place next door, which has an equally charming exterior (what you can see of it in the above photo, anyway). Having read many Thursday Doors posts of other door enthusiasts, I know this is something that happens a fair bit. It’s quite easy to become so focused on a door, and only notice other details later. But the important thing is that we at least go back and look over our photos, right? (That was starting to sound like a metaphor for life, so I had to turn it around somehow…)
Back to the door in question… Here’s its close-up:
Feeling curious as ever, I poked my head through the door, and peered inside. Almost instantly, I could smell the cigarette smoke. (A lot of restaurants, cafes, pubs, etc in Japan still allow smoking inside, or will have designated smoking areas.) The inside was dimly lit, but I vaguely remember some kind of bar on the ground floor; and there was a narrow staircase beside the door (narrow as the door itself), spiralling up to the second storey. My eyes followed the stairs upward, and found the eyes of a man (presumably the owner or maybe one of the workers), casually leaning on the banister of the upper landing.
He seemed to realise I was just curious about what went on inside this marvellous building (I don’t remember asking anything, although maybe I did, just not in actual words), and he told me that they serve pasta. (Italian food seems rather popular in Japan.) Unfortunately, we’d just eaten lunch (and dessert) and weren’t quite ready for more carbs, so I thanked him and, with one last glance about the place, we left.
Maybe next time I’m in Otaru, I’ll go back there, have some lunch, and actually get some photos of the inside too. Imagine the stories one could write about a place like that!
Thursday Doors is run by Norm. Please visit his site to find links to other participating blogs (or to add yours to the list if you want to join in!)
P.S. I was going to include a few more doors in this post, but time constraints mean I’ll have to leave it here. Looks like there’ll be a TD Otaru part 3!