The café is located in an ancient “Ashigaru” area, where low-ranking foot-soldiers had their houses. According to the hierarchy, it was impossible for low-ranking soldiers to acquire a house for themselves but Hikone was the exception. As you come inside, you will be blown away by this authentic Japanese interior and enjoy the beauty of the well-kept traditional garden looking through the large window glasses. Most vegetarian/vegan among Japanese or foreigners have some difficulties to find the proper food for their diet since veganism in Japan is rare. However, it seems like the sector is growing. This café is the perfect example and proves us that you can live your vegan life to the fullest while being in Japan.
“HareToKe” is a Japanese traditional way of thinking. “Hare” means special or extraordinary, for example a festival or a celebration. “Ke” means ordinary daily life, the regular life seen as the routine. Putting those words together “Hare” and “Ke” symbolizes a balanced life where we can enjoy proportionally both sides. “I make my chocolate to balance our lives, hoping to change the feelings of our “Ke” to “Hare” each time we eat it”. The owner said.
In October 2018, Hareto-Keto opened for the first time in this historical area of Hikone located near Hikone Castle, and Lake Biwa. The founder, Yoshida Rie, wanted to open a café a bit far from Kyoto to introduce the beauty of Shiga Prefecture especially Hikone’s Edo period atmosphere that you can’t find in big cities. She was originally a nurse working at the hospital when she started being interested in health and well-being. She has discovered that our lifestyle and diet can influence our life and focused on how to take care of it. Rie tried raw chocolate for the first time while being in a workshop in Kyoto. As she was eating, she felt a feeling of peace inside of her and was grateful for this experience. This was just the beginning of a passion taking her to a new career path. While being a nurse, Rie accumulated plenty of knowledge in the medical field and decided to switch to learn about the power of food on our body through natural and healthy sweets. Rie learned a lot about raw and vegan foods while travelling to different countries abroad and saw her interest growing day by day. Rie constantly expands her knowledge related to raw and vegan chocolate and its health benefits. Rie is a very positive person and being next to her makes us feel a good energy. Visiting the café is not only tasting her cuisine but also sharing her philosophy. What’s more, she can speak English!
The chocolate comes from roasting cocoa beans at a low temperature (known to have a very high nutritional value such as vitamins, mineral, phytochemicals and enzymes). Raw chocolate doesn’t contain any animal products and it is considered as vegan. Cocoa has shown benefits not only on the body but also on the mind and it is sometimes called “the food of the gods”. In addition, sweets are cooked using local ingredients and healthy foods. You can eat vegan sweets such as chocolates, raw chocolates, cakes and even some refreshing drinks.
Rie also organizes regularly cooking classes and public events such as festival and market. She has just opened a chocolate factory. You can make reservations ahead if you plan a visit to the café. You can also order some products online for a birthday or as a souvenir. You can find those information on her social media and feel free to ask if you have any requests.
When you come to Hikone, be adventurous and spontaneous, you may walk on the main roads such as the one which leads to Hikone Castle but explore the backroads as well! You will find beautiful and relaxing paths making unforgettable memories. Stop by Haretoketo to get a “peace” of chocolate, it will make your day.