Starbucks’ latest storefront has just become a breath of fresh air in the quaint and historical town of Higashiyama in Kyoto by setting up shop in a two-storey renovated Japanese townhouse that was once inhabited by geishas.
From the tiled roof and aged wood exterior to the logo printed on noren curtains, the coffee shop blends right in with the rest of the classically designed temples and shops around it. The interior resembles a traditional tea house including three tatami matted rooms where the guests are expected to act and follow the same rules given to them in a tea house. Shoes must be off and they must sit on cushions placed on the floor.
The rest of the space is filled with very few tables and benches to maintain the feel of intimacy and flow throughout the home. If you’re more of an outside sipper there are three gardens you have access to as well, one in the front, back and center of the space, filled with stone water basins, bamboo walls, and both concrete and grass to contrast each other and provide the best of both worlds.
Lines are not allowed to form outside the shop so the number of customers allowed inside will be monitored, especially during its busiest times. The reasoning is to maintain authenticity and not bring unnecessary attention to the very historical area and maintaining respect for the locals and keeping the ambiance the same in Higashiyama.
This Starbucks has definitely just become a major hotspot necessary for anyone visiting Japan and more specifically Kyoto and for Starbucks fans worldwide. Now, if only you could still get the Unicorn Frappuccino.
Starbucks Coffee Higashiyama
349 Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0826
- Words: Noah Thomas