At the age of 25, Masako Tanaka left her job as a personal care assistant and moved to New Zealand. It was around that time that the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, and she felt helpless, unable to do anything.
“I started praying about what I could do for my country. I decided to follow God’s call to go back to Japan and tell people about him. In New Zealand, there are residential homes called Open Houses, in which elderly people live. They don’t lock their front doors, so people can freely come by for a chat or to help out with the cleaning, or caring for people. I wanted to create a place in Japan where everyone felt welcome like that, and I got the idea of starting up a café.”
“When I took the first step, God kept opening doors. I shared my vision with my friend, Shiori Asada, who was working in childcare at the time. I explained I wanted to create a place that welcomed people of all ages. She joined me as a business partner. But we had no background knowledge or skills. We started the café based on faith alone, and since it wouldn’t be a good testimony if it had failed, we started studying catering and business management.”
“We had no funds to refurbish the building we rented, so we decided to do it ourselves. A carpenter who saw us struggling to do the floors and interior was kind enough to give us a helping hand. Even the tables and chairs were donated; it was completed through the love of so many people. On the day we opened Café Lantana, church members, family, and others who had helped us gathered at the café and together we prayed for God’s blessings.”
“Lantana” is the name of a flower which blooms in various colors, and they also change color as they mature, resulting in marvelous color combinations. Tanaka named the cafe “Lantana” in the hope that it could change and adapt according to God’s will, just like the flower.
Café Lantana, in Kizugawa, Kyoto Prefecture, celebrated its fifth anniversary in July.
“Eating is an important part of life. It is our hope to provide a place that enriches both body and soul,” says Tanaka. “We hope that God will continue to use Café Lantana, and that it will be a place where people can connect both with each other and with him.”
Translated from Christian Shimbun, July 16, 2017, by Grace Koshino
Photo of interior from https://tabelog.com/en/kyoto/A2607/A260704/26020628/dtlphotolst/3/
Photo of Masako Tanaka and Shiori Asada submitted by Christian Shimbun