In a land where undoubtedly rice is king, a different staple is slowly and surely winning hearts and stomachs nationwide — bread. Even the French-adapted Japanese word for the delicacy, パン (pan), reflects its popularity resulting in a spike of artisan bakeries rising up from the city to the countryside. Like all things in Japan, trust the dedicated professionals to perfect the iconic fresh, pillowy, shokupan loaves, leaving tourists and residents alike literally queuing for hours to get their hands on a single loaf.
Enter Okanoeuno Panya Bakery (丘の上のパン屋). A short bus ride from Tama-Plaza Station (Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line) in Yokohama, you can experience this hidden gem of bakery bliss. As if plucked right out of a classic Japanese animated storyboard, this charming mountain-hut bread shop would not feel out of place in any Parisian countryside. Stocked daily with classic French breads and pastries, every item is prepared meticulously fresh and insanely delicious. It is for this simple reason that Okanoeuno Panya is treasured by those living in the neighbourhood.
As the name suggests, Okanoeuno Panya means ‘bakery on a hill' — a perfect lofty mount for this unpretentious bakery. Perched atop a small grassy knoll, the bakery is owned and operated by the baker, Kuronuma Atsushi (黒沼 敦詞). Atsushi-san’s idea to open his own home-style bakery began in April 2018 after having worked in several boulangerie-patisserie shops around Tokyo over the previous 16 years. The final push came from his mother suggesting that he share his pleasure of creating simple, delicious bread with others. To our gastronomical benefit, he graciously accepted the challenge.