For generations, Hiroshima’s Miyajima island has been regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Japan, with travelers coming from near and far to gaze at the beauty of the Itsukushima Shrine’s majestic torii gate that rises from the waters of Hiroshima Bay and the five-storied pagoda that stands not far from the shore. As of this week, though, there’s another must-see location on Miyajima.
Lovable relaxing bear Rilakkuma’s newest themed cafe opened its doors on Miyajima on April 25, and in keeping with its surroundings, it’s got a distinctly Japanese aesthetic. Officially, the restaurant is called the Miyajima Rilakkuma Sabo, sabo being a Japanese word for “teahouse.”
The menu items’ inspirations are not only Japanese, but drawn from the Hiroshima region. For example, the Rilakkuma Anago and Oyster Tempura set (1,580 yen [US$14]) makes use of two of Miyajima’s most delicious delicacies, oysters and saltwater eel. Rilakkuma himself is rendered in rice, resting on a tamagoyaki egg pillow placed next to sliced lotus root, a specialty of the town of Iwakuni in neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Hungrier diners can opt for the Kiiroitori Fried Oyster Curry (1,280 yen), which takes the unorthodox route of pairing Japanese-style curry with saffron rice, in order to maintain the yellow coloring of Rilakkuma’s avian pal.
Since Rilakkuma has a well-known love of desserts, of course there’s a selection of sweets as well. The Slow-paced Momijidani Rilakkuma Japanese-style Choco Banana Parfait (1,280 yen) references Miyajima’s beautiful Momijidani/Maple Valley hiking area, with its banana slice standing in for the arched bridge that travelers walk across as they leave the city and enter the valley, and also has wiggly mizu warabi gelatin and gyuhi mochi.
On the other hand, if you prefer Western-style deserts you’ll want to order the Korilakkuma Setouchi Lemon Chiffon Cake (980 yen), which is flavored with citrus grown on the islands of Hiroshima’s Setouchi inland sea, Japan’s top lemon-growing region, as well as locally made honey.
However, if you’re on a tightly scheduled trip to Miyajima, you might not have time to sit down for a leisurely meal. Luckily, the Miyajima Rilakkuma Sabo also has to-go items, like the Mogu Mogu Honey Sandwich (600 yen) which wraps a thick disc of ice cream in brioche or white bread buns styled after Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma…
…or, as a salute to the maple-shaped cakes which are Miyajima’s most popular souvenirs, a pair of Rilakkuma Momiji Manju, filled with sweet bean paste, for 350 yen.
Oh, and naturally there’s also a line of special exclusive merchandise, including small dishes and cosmetic brushes from esteemed Hiroshima brand Kumano.
Between his new restaurant and his new Netflix series, we’re not sure Rilakkuma is actually as lazy as he appears to be, but if that means we get to see (and eat) more of the character, that’s fine by us.