Stardust, a Japanese Shop and Cafe, Lets the History of the Space Shine Through

Photos by Peter Schweitzer

What: Stardust, Vegan Cafe and Shop

Where: Kyoto, Japan

Style: Earthy and ethereal

Back in 2015, Kana Shimizu happened to attend an exhibition at Hanaya Mitate, an exquisite flower studio in a northern stretch of Kyoto that specializes in traditional ikebana. Inspired by a recent trip to Amsterdam, Shimizu wanted her own shop, and the flower studio owner, Hayato Nishiyama, a friend of a friend, told her the storefront next door was open. "That's how I met this old house," says Shimizu.

Although most people urged her to tear down the old, dusty walls of the space — a traditional wooden townhouse called a machiya — Shimizu saw something special instead. "This wall looks like the universe," she says, of the aging plaster. Hence, Stardust — the name of her shop and vegan cafe, now nearly three years old. Shimizu left some walls plain, papered others wall in washi (traditional Japanese paper), added a kitchen, and let the history of the space shine through.

Now, Stardust is destination shopping, a wonderfully curated mix of vintage and new goods, pottery, furniture, accessories, clothing — including Los Angeles-based Black Crane — and a petite, four-table vegan cafe. The curation is all Shimizu, the feel is timeless and ethereal. "Mixing and putting together with old and new, things from Japan and all over the world, makes [it] borderless," she says. She also holds occasional art shows and pop-ups.

It's the realization of the vision she had in Amsterdam, for a space that, Shimizu believes, taps into the universal element we have inside of all of us — stardust. She says, of her boutique, "We are having beautiful stardust come over from all of the world, every day."

Stardust
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11 Photos
credit: Peter Schweitzer

Shimizu left several of the aging plaster walls as-is when she opened her shop.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

The cafe sits at the back of the store, through a narrow hallway. It has double-height ceilings.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

There's also a small courtyard, for when the weather is nice.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

The menu is vegan.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

Inside the boutique, Shimizu covered the walls with traditional Japanese paper. The patchwork effect has a vintage, almost American feel. For her, "it's like underwater."

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

Stardust carries Cha Yuan tea, from France.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

The boutique has a carefully curated mix of pottery, clothing and other goods.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

Each small tableau in the boutique is carefully considered.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

The candle stands with crystals are Shimizu's favorite part of the store. The crystals, she says, are like a fire.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

Crystals are featured throughout the store.

Stardust
credit: Peter Schweitzer

The boutique, says Shimizu, is ever-evolving. "Running this business for me is the message of Stardust: 'You are stardust on the earth — a beautiful piece of the universe.'"


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers women's health, lifestyle and design.