starbucks kyoto

STARBUCKS AWARD-WINNING JAPANESE DESIGNED CAFE IS AMAZING!

Japan is no stranger to the coffee chain Starbucks. In fact, I personally feel like the Starbucks outlets in Japan are unique because of the adaptation to the local culture in terms of not only store design but exclusive food and beverage offerings too. 

Out of the 1,464 Starbucks outlets in Japan, only a few dozen are concept stores that feature Japanese architecture. But only one of them holds a very special title as the world’s first Starbucks to have tatami seating, and that’s the Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya outlet.

This is located in a traditional Japanese house on the Ninenzaka pathway — a popular sightseeing area that preserves the architecture from the 1910s. This Starbucks outlet, opened in June 2017, is one out of 27 ‘Regional Landmark Stores’, which are symbols that represent the regional culture. 

Out of the 1,464 Starbucks outlets in Japan, only a few dozen are concept stores that feature Japanese architecture.

I had the opportunity to visit the store a few months back. The exterior design — the walls used for the store has been preserved since the Taisho Era (1912-1926) — was so well done to blend in with the rest of the traditional street that I walked past the store three times looking for it. The usual green brand logo is nowhere to be seen, but replaced with a modest wooden signboard.

In the design of this store, which took a decade to bring to life, local elements were fused together with modern key designs to bring out the traditions and crafts of the city, creating a “one-of-a-kind shop that conveys the culture and history of Kyoto even more than before”. The noren (traditional Japanese dividing curtains) and tsukubai (stone basin) at the entrance are instant good examples of that. 

The preservation of traditional Japanese architectural design and attention to detail is impressive. Long corridors, which are common in Kyoto houses to replicate the atmosphere of a “passage garden”, is one of the main interior design elements. Other significant details of Japanese architecture that this Starbucks outlet features are the moss garden and the circle window, known as “the window of spiritual enlightenment” in Zen Buddhism.

Other significant details of Japanese architecture that this Starbucks outlet features are the moss garden and the circle window, known as “the window of spiritual enlightenment” in Zen Buddhism.

The second floor is where the tatami rooms are. There are a total of 3 rooms with raised tatami-floored seating, fully decorated with hanging scrolls produced by Kyoto artisans, zabuton cushions and Japanese-style flower arrangements.

What amazed me was the tranquillity in the store itself. Personally, it didn’t even feel like a Starbucks outlet. It felt like a traditional Japanese tea house — but instead of being served green tea and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), I was sipping on a Frappuccino topped with whipped cream and sharing a slice of cheesecake. 

The exceptional attention to detail was what I reckon scored them the Best 100 Good Designs Award 2018. While the design of the outlet itself is remarkable, I went to this Starbucks outlet with the presumption that it would have exclusive menu items. Alas, it didn’t — the original Starbucks menu is what they offer. 

Nonetheless, the Starbucks Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya is an ideal coffee break stop in the middle of a long day of sightseeing in the historically rich city of Kyoto.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cocoa vector

Newsletter

en_GBEnglish