The Beginning of the Return Home

Imagine walking into a new café on an ordinary Sunday afternoon.

The sweet smell of cinnamon and freshly ground coffee greets you at the door, along with a warm smile and a friendly “hello, please come in” from the barista. You’ve never met before, but you feel you could tell your deepest darkest secrets or your sincerest hopes & dreams, and you would be genuinely listened to.  You hang up your coat, slip into a pair of slippers, and glance around. Ahah! You know exactly where you want to sit: the over-sized armchair positioned perfectly between the fireplace, the window, and the bookshelf. You sink into the chair, and almost disappear into the plush cushions. This feels familiar. The barista gently lays a cashmere blanket on your lap and hands you a warm drink followed by a delicacy that reminds you of something your mother used to make. You’re not sure why, but you feel at ease, like weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. Siiiiigh….. And then, it hits you. It feels like home.


Welcome to 帰る [kaeru] Domicile by Nicole Lynne

This name is an amalgamation of my two homes away from home: Japan & France. 帰る [kaeru] means “to return” in Japanese and domicile means “home” in French.

The Beginning:

It all started in July 2015 when I was about to leave Japan after 3 years of teaching. There are some things that Japan does so right and other things that it does not, and one of those failures is BREAKFAST the way my mother always makes it. I mean eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, toast, The Works! My fellow expats can  concur with similar cravings for foods from their home countries. What we were missing was deeper than the familiarity or the nutritional benefits of these nostalgic foods. Despite purposely immersing ourselves in a new culture, we were missing that feeling of belonging- we were missing home.

In a way, isn’t that what we are all striving for?

The Present:

I spent the last of my savings on a 3-month couch surfing journey across Europe to comprehend the various interpretations of home, a barista training course with the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy, and a one-way ticket to Paris, which sounds drastic, but may it be a testament of dedication to not doing anything the easy way.


Now in Paris, I’m researching cafés and looking for a café owner who will take me under their wing and let me be their apprentice. My latté art isn’t very good, and I definitely need more practice, but I WANT to learn more about the café world and am willing to work hard to do so. I just need some guidance.


The Future:

For now, it’s an aspiration, which will eventually transpire into a café located in Okayama, Japan. It will be an ideological sanctuary for the traveling soul with the philosophy that “home” is a feeling, not a place because everyone needs to feel like they belong no matter where they are in the world.

In the meantime, this blog will have:

  1. Quality Time: reviews about cafés that exhibit home comfort in their own way
  2. Genuine People: interviews about people who inspire belonging
  3. Intended Purpose: updates about my 生き甲斐 adventure

From curious observer to café owner- The journey starts here.


2 thoughts on “The Beginning of the Return Home

  1. I always enjoyed Japanese coffee shops but they were missing that key feeling of home… in my experience their were two flavors of coffee shop in Japan.

    1- The excessively laid back hardwood and stoneware coffee shop… like some sort of strange amalgamation of a frontier saloon and a mountain cabin… cozy, but not in a way that welcomes you or encourages you to become a part of the cafe.

    2- The try hards… be it owl themed, cat themed, maid themed, french patisserie themed etc… they are always trying to hard to conform to an overall concept and they end up just feeling kitschy… more a novelty or a place to snag a few selfies than an actual experience.

    What I missed wad that feeling you talked about at the beginning. The feeling that I was entering someone’s home… and that my experience in the cafe was far more important than the art on the walls or the cups of coffee.

    I hope you find a way to create that… I’ll be the first in line.


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