It is said that if one wants to live or work in Japan, one has to become Japanese.
This downright stringent homogeneous spirit might not work anywhere else in the world, but for a country that speaks little to no English and is still able to attract tonnes of tourists every year, and become one of the world’s superpowers that will be hosting the Olympics two years from now, it just makes sense to be as Japanese as possible if you want to operate there as an individual or a business. And one huge aspect of life in Japan is Design.
The Japanese are extremely proud of their culture – where Design is an everyday necessity not just for convenience but to fit into the surrounding landscape. Checkout how different these Starbucks are from the ones we see here in KL, you’ll get what I mean…
Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya, Ninenzaka
Is it an old Izakaya or a Starbucks?
You can sit on the floor – Japanese style.
Or return to innocence with a bit of a classroom ambience.
There’s always a Zen garden if they can fit one in.
Starbucks Kyoto Uji Byodoin Omote-sando, Kyoto
Even getting there is an amazing experience.
The Japanese know how to utilise natural sunlight.
Relax at the dry Zen garden.
Starbucks Coffee Kobe Meriken Park, Kobe
Apparently, Kobe is popular with couples.
Checkout the view!
Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (Tall, Price: 561 JPY), a new, limited type of iced coffee.
Starbucks Kobe Kitano Ijinkan, Hyogo
Country roads, take me home… Starbucks’ signature (their signature green mermaid) is made of wood at this store.
Starbucks Ueno Onshi Park, Tokyo
Apart from its Starbucks, Ueno Park is famous for sakura (cherry blossom) viewing, its zoo, and its shrines (one of which holds a shrapnel from the WWII atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, in remembrance of those who perished).
Starbucks Dazaifu Tenmangu Omotesando, Fukuoka
We dig the wooden design here.
Starbucks Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi, Kyoto
This could be Italy, just missing that gondola below the balcony.
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, Tokyo
Coffee under the stars?
Hirosaki Park, Aomori
Looks like cottage from a fairy tale. Hansel, y’there?
Izumo Taisha, Shimane
Is this as basic as it gets? Still a big difference.
So the next time you’re in Japan, and need a coffee break, don’t think of Starbucks as that big ol’ corp entity with a lack of an identity (if you’ve seen the copycat outlets in Malaysia, you’d know what I’m saying). It’s Japan, after all.
Images fastjapan.com, japantoday.com, wow-j.com