We visited this place in November 2019, prior to Covid-19. Do check for pandemic-related updates and precautions before making your visit.
CACAO MARKET By MARIABELLE in Higashiyama, Kyoto, is host to a couple of oddities. For one, its quintessentially Western facade stands out from its neighbours of traditional buildings in Japan’s historical capital. For another, well – it’s home to a secret underground cafe accessible only by a secret passcode.
While the dizzying array of takeaway chocolates and sweets is enough to make any sweet-toothed customer go giddy with delight, it’s really the Angel Library cafe that is the shop’s hidden charm. To access it, simply approach any of the shop’s staff and tell them you want to visit the Angel Library cafe.
From then on, customers are whisked away to the back of the building, where a larger-than-life angel wings mural is the only hint to a hidden world beneath Kyoto’s streets. Enter the daily passcode which is printed on a piece of paper handed to you on the door’s complicated-looking digital lock, and descend down a very dark, winding staircase into Angel Library.
As its name suggests, Angel Library is a whimsically-themed space filled with library-related memorabilia, from shelves crammed with books, to solo booths fitted with old-fashioned lamps resembling those of libraries of old. Look up and you will spot a beautifully painted mural of cherubs dancing about an azure blue sky in the ceiling mural!
Due to its enclosed nature, the cafe is extremely cozy and provides great respite from the biting cold outside (having visited during the autumn). The coveted seats are two pairs of high-rise chairs by the window, where you can sip on a cuppa and tune in to Angel Library’s playlist, while taking in the fast-moving stream outside its only windows.
Like its retail arm, Angel Library’s menu emphasises chocolate treats, other traditional Italian sweets like cannoli and cakes, and rich, hot chocolate. Sample both with a Marie Antoinette’s Elixir Afternoon Tea Set (¥1, 400). And if you’re feeling peckish, Angel Library also offers a delectable-looking Salad Pizza (¥1,800).
Tucked away from the bustling Gion district, Angel Library provides perfect respite for afternoon tea. Simply say the magic words!
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Tokiwacho 165-2
京都府 京都市東山区 常盤町 165-2 B1F
Nearest Station: Gion-Shijo
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (closed on Tuesday)