Are you a Starbuck lover? In Japan you can find Starbucks cafes at some very special places. Unique locations, with a local touch but always the same Starbucks-quality. Whether you enjoy a cup of Starbucks coffee or not, these stores are worth a visit for the location! The first ‘Sutaba’ of Japan opened its’ doors in 1996, in Ginza, Tokyo. Since then it has expanded rapidly throughout the country. In September 2019 the number of Starbucks outlets had reached 1.497, with the world busiest and biggest – two different outlets – located in Tokyo! Starbucks skyrocketing popularity is partly a result of the seasonal merchandise and beverages that are exclusive to Japan. The limited edition coffee cups and tumblers designs are often based on seasonal holidays, famous landmarks, Japanese culture and even airports. Moreover, the coffee chain has found a way to adapt to local culture, creating Instagrammable, one-of-a-kind spaces at inspiring locations while featuring cutting-edge architecture and design. For some of the locations listed below, chances are, that without the Starbucks logo, you probably wouldn’t have known it was a Starbucks. Here is our list of the ‘Sutaba’ in Japan you should not miss!
- Starbucks Roastery, Tokyo
- Shibuya Tsutaya, Tokyo
- Dazaifutenmangu Omotesando, Fukuoka
- Kawagoe Kanetsuki-dori, Kawagoe
- Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chaya, Kyoto
- Izumo Taisya, Shimane
- Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi, Kyoto
- Kamakura Onarimachi, Kamakura
- Ueno onshi park, Tokyo
- Toyama Kansui Park, Toyama
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Starbucks Roastery, TokyoIn February 2019, the fifth and biggest Starbucks Roastery worldwide was opened in Tokyo, in Naka-Meguro along the Meguro river. The complex comprises about 200 sqm spread out over four floors and its exterior was designed by the world-renowned contemporary architects, Kengo Kuma. The interior was created by the Starbucks community design team, but carefully selected to match Kuma’s modern Japanese style. Next to coffee, there is also tea, Italian snacks and… alcohol on the menu! On the third floor you can find the Arriviamo Cocktail Bar. Obviously, all the cocktails are infused with coffee or tea. Don’t forget to try espresso martini! As expected this Starbucks is very popular – especially in spring time, when the many sakura trees are in full bloom! In the weekend the waiting time still reaches a peak of 5 hours, so be sure to come early and reserve some time in your plan.
Shibuya Tsutaya, TokyoProbably the most famous Starbucks in Japan, is the one overlooking the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. People come here to watch to watch the the famous crossing, especially at rush hour when hundreds of pedestrians cross the street from all directions, under the neon glow of Shibuya’s digital billboards. The place is amazing for people watching, but be warned, it is the busiest Starbucks around the world! For this reason, we could not, not mention this Starbucks in this post.
Dazaifutenmangu Omotesando, FukuokaThe number one special Starbucks in Japan – arguably the world – is the outlet in Dazaifutenmangu Omotesando, Fukuoka. This Starbucks it located right next to the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, which is famous for the god of academics. The beautiful entrance of Starbucks was designed by Kengo Kuma – who also designed the new olympic stadium in Tokyo and correct, the Starbucks Roastery in Tokyo. Come for the building, stay for coffee!
Kawagoe Kanetsuki-dori, KawagoeIn 2018, Starbucks has opened a store in the main shopping street of Kawagoe, next to the landmark Toki no Kane. Its design perfectly blends in with the many kurazukuri houses that Kawagoe, also known als little Edo, is so famous for. Read more about Kawagoe in our blog 1-day trip to ‘Little Edo’ Kawagoe. Next to the indoor space, it has a pretty outdoor seating area with a Japanese gardens, complete with bonsai trees, a stone pathway and wind chimes for your peaceful coffee break. If Starbucks has existed already during the Edo period, this is what it would have looked like.
Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Chaya, KyotoNinenzaka is traditional area located in east of Kyoto city near Kiyomizu shrine. Here you can find one of the two Starbucks in Kyoto that are definately worth a visit. The traditional-looking store opened in 2017 inside a 100-year old machiya – a traditional townhouse – from the Taisho period. The store perfectly blends in with the neighbourhood’s historic vibe, if it wasn’t for the sign (and perhaps the people) you would probably not even notice this Starbucks. One year after its’ opening, this Starbucks outlet received the Kyoto Scenery Award (Kyoto Keikan Sho) for ‘its inspired effort in preserving and combining tradition with contemporary coffee culture’. Examples of this are two special features:
- It was the first Starbucks ever to offer tatami floor seating.
- It is the only Starbucks that has Noren “暖簾”, the traditional Japanese shop curtain.