Kinosaki Inspirations

Caban Street Chronicles Vol. 4: Walruses, Coffee, and a Rainbow Stork

  • Caban Street in Toyooka
    Caban Street in Toyooka

    To the untrained eye, turning the corner onto Caban Street in Toyooka reveals a small road of quaint shops housing vintage clothing, handmade wallets, and a myriad of other niche goods waiting to be popped into suitcases as souvenirs for the artsy friends back home. But a peek beyond the storybook exteriors lined up beneath the clear Toyooka skies lie the heartbeats of fashion powerhouses carrying on a millennium-old tradition - Toyooka Kaban, otherwise known as Japan's most exclusively produced, stringently managed family of luxury handbags. Over thirty brands of Toyooka Kaban handbags are sold on Caban Street, ranging from purses, suitcases, and wallets (some quick schooling: "caban" or "kaban" is Japanese for bag). The variety of goods found on Caban Street doesn't end at high-quality leather bags — cafes, galleries, and community collectives also call this fashion mecca home.

  • Koyama Toshi
    Koyama Toshi

    Fashion x Street Art

    Todohyo, a three-story complex of buildings on the corner of Caban Street, instantly beckons attention with its pop art-style mural of an Oriental White Stork - "a free art exhibit for all visitors to Caban Street" according to Koyama Toshi, Todohyo's current owner. Toshi has made a home for himself and his wife and son inside Todohyo, but he quickly discovered that one family in such a large house could use a little company.

  • Showatei
  • A Diamond in the Rough

    Before coming under Koyama's ownership in 2019, Todohyo was once touted as the crème de la crème of dining in Toyooka in the early 20th century. As a wedding hall and elite restaurant at the time, the complex went by the official name Showatei with many patrons calling it by its nickname, Todohyo (more on that later). Showatei's reign as Toyooka's gourmet and event hub eventually came to an end around 2007, and with a new year came new tenants to the complex until around 2016. By the time Koyama purchased Todohyo, it had been completely abandoned with no electricity nor maintenance for two years.

  • Beyond the dust and rubble, Koyama found a treasure trove of opportunity after a stint abroad. After returning to Japan from a working holiday in Australia, Koyama and his family decided to make the move to his wife's hometown of Toyooka. Todohyo's charm instantly caught his eye. "When I entered the building, I thought to myself 'this can still be used for something,'" he recalls. "After hearing the locals tell me about how important of a role the complex played in the past century for the townspeople, I wanted to try and revive the space through my own actions." Koyama took the plunge and purchased the property, and with extensive renovations Todohyo was reborn as a hip event space housing art exhibitions, concerts, a cafe, and more.

  • Coffee and Walruses

    Adorned inside and out with walrus motifs, Todohyo’s cafe Todo Bien is also operated by the Koyama family. “When I first came to Caban Street, I noticed that there weren’t really any sit-down places to enjoy some food or a drink,” Koyama says. “If there was a cafe, people would be able to come to Caban Street and enjoy it even without buying a bag and just window-shopping.” Todo Bien with its chic and retro-cool interior complimented by original coffee brews, pizza, and soda hopes to be a gateway for anyone, handbag enthusiast or casual window shopper, to enjoy Caban Street.

  • The walrus theme of Todo Bien isn’t just limited to the trendy cafe - language buffs may have already guessed that “Todohyo” or “Todo” has some connection to the sea-dwelling blubbery friends, and it’s true! “Todo” is the Japanese word for walrus, Showatei received its nickname “Todohyo” thanks to its resident stuffed walrus greeting guests (stick with us: Showatei was the complex’s first business). The story goes that during a walk on the beach, Showatei's owner came upon a mother and child walrus trapped inside a fishing net. The pair had unfortunately already passed away, and they were brought back to Showatei and displayed at the entrance, garnering the love and attention of locals. They were eventually moved inside, and are still displayed today.

  • Popups Galore and the Toyooka Theater Festival

    In addition to Todo Bien serving up pizza and coffee blends, an Italian restaurant, bag atelier, and even reservable study spaces can be found under Todohyo’s roof. Barbeque plans served on Todohyo’s patio garden are also available for groups with prices starting from about 4,000 JPY including fresh meat, vegetables, and marshmallows.

  • Maison Def bag boutique in Todohyo
    Maison Def bag boutique in Todohyo
  • Coworking space
    Coworking space
  • Looking for the popup shop scene near Kinosaki Onsen? Todohyo's repertoire of popup stores and events in the area is unrivaled, and traveling vintage shops, NFT art exhibits, and sound therapy concerts are just a sampling of recent going-ons. One of Todohyo's largest events of the year is a collaboration with the Toyooka Theater Festival, a week-long festivity providing unique entertainment for visitors and locals with a drive to nurture community development at its core. Todohyo opens its outdoor garden during the night for festival-goers to relax with a drink, and the surrounding walls transform into an outdoor cinema streaming retro movies and short films. The wooden walls of Todohyo's innermost building are also illuminated in splashes of rainbow throughout the evenings, sending guests off with one last show of creativity before turning in for the night. “Walking from Toyooka Station back to wherever you’re staying in pitch black darkness is kind of boring.” Koyama shares as he remembers last year’s light up event. “So I thought it would be fun to light up Todohyo so passersby could have something to look at.”

  • DJ event
    DJ event
  • Popup shop
    Popup shop
  • A Space for Everyone

    While Todohyo’s years as a beloved landmark have grown into decades, one key value has proven to stand the test of time: from the conception of Showatei to Todohyo’s most recent transformation, from formal wedding parties with family to jamming out to a DJ set with friends, a feeling of belonging and community continues to flow through the complex and all who pay a visit.

  • “I want a lot of people to enjoy Todohyo. My goal in creating this space is to have somewhere people can feel welcome.”
    Koyama Toshi

  • About

    Danielle Leveille

    Danielle Leveille

    Junior Local Expert

    Originally from Chicago in the USA. She currently works for Visit Kinosaki as a coordinator for international relations. A lover of Tajima beef and hidden sightseeing spots, she can be found either at one of her favorite restaurants or exploring a secret nook in town.