Cafe Vivement Dimanche opened in the historically rich Kamakura area of Kanagawa Prefecture in 1994. Its owner, Takashi Horiuchi, is well-known as a tireless worker, a globetrotter, and a man of many interests. I first encountered him at the 2016 Japan AeroPress Championship. He was DJing the event with an amazing blend of Brazilian music, Afrobeat, and disco. I thought that if Horiuchi’s coffee was even half as good as his taste in music it would be worth the trip to his shop.
A typhoon nearly canceled our interview, but Horiuchi was able to meet me despite it. While his staff scrambled about the cafe filling buckets with flood water, we talked about Cafe Vivement Dimanche, coffee, and music.
Horiuchi decided to open his shop out of a fondness for Parisian cafe culture. Though born and raised in Tokyo, he picked Kamakura as the location; he says the laid-back feeling that emanated from the town attracted him, that there seemed to be a large population of people pursuing their passions at their own pace.
From the beginning, his focus was on building a coffee shop with great atmosphere. An affinity for design and a love of music went a long way in creating a stylish and welcoming cafe space. Initially the traditional European style of espresso was featured, but over the years the cafe has adapted and changed its approach. Some darker roasts are still offered, but an exciting range of lighter-roast single-origin beans is also on the menu. A pair of Mazzer Kony electronic grinders—one for light-roast beans, the other for darker roasts—and a Synesso Hydra sit on the work counter. Pour-overs are prepared either via Kono or Melitta, depending on the roast profile.
It’s rare for an established cafe to change its approach to coffee in these parts. But Horiuchi says he’s never been happy with the status quo. That, and a fine attention to detail, have allowed him to pursue a better cup of coffee. When a kettle wasn’t producing an ideal result, he had one custom made; when he wanted more control over the quality of his coffee, he started his own roasting operation.
And his passion for cafe culture and coffee has led him to other happy discoveries. Through coffee he became fascinated with Brazil, which led to an interest in the country’s music. Now Horiuchi has a weekly radio show introducing Brazilian music to eager listeners, and Vivement Dimanche regularly hosts Brazilian music performances. Another relationship born from the cafe—and a love for professional wrestling—was the chance meeting of his now-wife. He spotted a wrestling magazine poking out of her bag and asked her out to watch a match.
The array of products Horiuchi has designed for the cafe’s merchandise reflects his many pursuits. There are polka-dotted hand towels that, upon closer inspection, reveal a design of coffee bean patterns. He shows me some coffee jewelry in the shape of his favorite Brazilian bean. Several CDs are on the table, most of them mixes produced by Horiuchi himself. His custom-designed kettles (with different spout options for flow control) and his custom-colored Zassenhaus grinder are available; he’s also authored books about making good coffee and incorporating it into your lifestyle.
Despite Horiuchi’s many interests, when sitting face to face with the man I couldn’t help but notice his calm and unhurried manner. Even as his cafe was flooding, even as emergency service vehicles had begun to move up and down the surrounding streets, he sat with me unperturbed, smiling pleasantly, and quietly answering my questions. Soft jazz played from the overhead speakers—music well-suited for the morning, he tells me—and I can’t help but feel at ease myself.
If you are looking for some good tunes to sip your joe to, here are 10 selections from the Cafe Vivement Dimanche playlist:
- Mallu Magalhães “Casa Pronta”
- Dom La Nena “Sambinha”
- Demetrius Lulo e Paula Mirhan “Com Que Pé”
- Greater Alexander “Positive Love”
- Greg Yoder “Golden Lady”
- MarcoMarche “A Song Of Us”
- Adhitia Sofyan “Memilihmu”
- Jozi Lucka “Você É Real”
- Maíra Freitas “Êta”
- Elis Regina “Madalena”
Eric Tessier is a freelance journalist based in Tokyo. Read more Eric Tessier on Sprudge.