The red barn-like design of Alishan (Photo: Maren Pauli)

Alishan Café and Organic Center

A healthy trip to the Okuchichibu foothills

The red barn-like design of Alishan (Photo: Maren Pauli)
Maren Pauli   - 3 min read

In the foothills of the mountains around Chichibu, about one hour northwest of Tokyo, you will find the Alishan Café and Organic Center. Now why would I go there while I’m on my vacation to Japan, you could ask. And it’s a good question, since you seem to have a massive number of nice cafés in Tokyo as well. Let me explain why Alishan Café and Organic Center is worth a visit.

The area around Koma Station is different from Tokyo. It is not very far from the big city, but seems so remote that you can immediately feel your body relaxing from the stress of the city. A short walk from the station, crossing the Koma River, is a big red wooden house: Alishan Café and Organic Center.

Inside you can visit a small shop with lots of organic goods from all over the world. Vegetarian and vegan foods, some imported, some homegrown, are offered for very reasonable prices. I expected organic food to be much more expensive in Japan. And the personal touch is certainly included: you can buy many of the owner’s and staff's recommendations, including the breakfast they eat everyday or the granola the owner's mother recommends.

As the Australian owner Jack and his wife Fay live right upstairs, you have good chances of meeting them in person! Maybe in the café, just next to the shop. The café has seats inside as well as outside, in a beautiful yard and on a wooden terrace with plenty of trees and plants that give you the feeling you are sitting in a jungle next to a river.

The café offers a broad selection of vegetarian and vegan snacks, meals, sweets and drinks. Just to give you an idea of what could be waiting for your gourmet palate, you could go with any of the following: a Creamy Bean Paste Bagel Sandwich, a Mango Spice Tea and Jack’s Famous Oatmeal Raisin Cookie or Hot Apple and Fig Pie with Vegan Ice Cream. Sound delicious? It is! And if you think vegetarian or vegan is boring, try it for yourself! You won’t feel anything missing in your dish and you’ll be perfectly stuffed afterwards.

There are also events at Alishan Café and Organic Center, such as a market day once a year, which I visited this time. You can taste and buy lots of organic foods as well as organic cosmetics and clothes. There was also a workshop on weaving where you could learn how to make your own mini mat. In the afternoon I visited a body structure seminar by Dr. Cristian Rachitan who told us a lot about naturopathic practice and even demonstrated how important it is to live healthy and learn to listen to your body. For other events or the next market day, check out the Alishan webpage! The webpage and the menu in the café are available in English and the staff in fluent as well.

You can reach Koma Station with the Seibu Chichibu Line (which is an extension of the Seibu Ikebukuro Line) from Ikebukuro Station within one hour.

Maren Pauli

Maren Pauli @maren.pauli

Born and raised in Berlin, Germany, I realized that my hometown is a village when I first came to Tokyo over 10 years ago. I love to experience the world and show people what I discover, so I never travel without my camera. One of my favorite hobbies is getting lost, as I have no sense of directi...