Blue Bottle Shibuya Japan


Blue Bottle has kept its Japan outlets pretty consistent in design since they opened their first outlet in 2015. I feel comforted by the familiarity of beech wood against white concrete. However, for their latest outlet in Japan, located in the heart of the capital city Tokyo, the Californian coffee company decided to switch it up in terms of interior design and the architect in charge of it all.

The coffee company had worked closely with Schemata Architects led by Jo Nagasaka to design almost 20 outlets in Japan, along with a few in South Korea and Los Angeles. However, the latest Blue Bottle outlet in the Shibuya neighbourhood was designed by Tokyo-based architect Keiji Ashizawa, who had designed only one other Blue Bottle outlet in Yokohama. 

A number of Blue Bottle outlets can be found in the quieter parts of even the busiest of neighbourhoods. I decided to visit the Shibuya outlet, located a fair walk from the main station to Kitaya Park.

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Azra Outside the Blue Bottle Shibuya

Originally a local cherry blossom viewing spot when it first opened in 1963, the park became a de facto bicycle parking lot and smoking zone.  It went through a massive revamp as time went by and reopened in April 2021, featuring shops on top of Blue Bottle amidst open event areas. 

The first impression of this new outlet I got was its darker ambience compared to the dozen others I’ve visited in Japan. Instead of wood, Ashizawa used over 7,000 Formafantasma-designed ExCinere tiles for the interior to connect with the timber-clad exterior. This is what Ashizawa has to say about the design choice:

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Interior uses Autumnal Colours

I thought that this tile, which has a brick-like colour, is an item reminiscent of parks in Japan. Also, there is the fact that the soil from volcanic ash is a familiar material in this Kanto region, and I remember that the soil floor of the original Kitaya Park was also Kanto loam.

The furniture choices were also well thought through by Ashizawa — one design, in particular, was special stacking benches by Ishinomaki Laboratory, a company the architect helped found after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. 

Yet, despite the difference in the interior, Blue Bottle Shibuya still exerts a similar aura to the other outlets in Japan. Other beech wooden furniture is still being used abundantly throughout the two-storey store, and complementing the darker brown tiles is the autumnal orange textile of a few sofas.

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Coffee brew is as good as you’d expect from Blue Bottle

Even though Blue Bottle’s Jinnan outlet is a bit of a walk from the main area of the neighbourhood, it’s already becoming a go-to spot for groups of friends to hang out in the outdoor space or even to have business meetings. And while the interior is a fresh change from the ones most locals are familiar with, this Californian coffee company never fails to provide a welcoming, homey atmosphere on top of the consistent flavours of their brew.


  • Azra Syakirah


    Azra Syakirah spends much of her time travelling asia, photographing and writing about cafe's and coffee experiences. She has lived in Malaysia, Singapore, and more recently Japan, where she resides in the capital, Tokyo.

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