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Is This Really a Starbucks? Three Quintessentially Japanese Starbucks

Starbucks with interiors and exteriors that draw on the local environment, such as a machiya house in Kyoto and Kobe Meriken Park, are attracting attention. We take a look at these shops that are oh so stylish! <*the information is from Kansai Walker (issued October 10, 2017)

Enter Through a Noren Curtain to Relax in Starbucks's First Zashiki Seating

Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya Branch is on Ninenzaka, a cobblestone hill that connects World Heritage sites such as Kodaiji, Sannenzaka, and Kiyomizu-dera. It is in a traditional Japanese-style house built over 100 years ago, and Starbucks is seeking to preserve the traditional nature of the house as much as possible while it's in use. The zashiki seating with tatami mats, where you take off your shoes to relax in, is the first among all Starbucks around the world to offer this feature and has attracted great interest since the shop's opening.

There are three zashiki rooms on the second floor: One with a raised floor, another that is 4.5 tatami mats in size, and one at the back (photographed). Notice the zabuton mats made of material woven in Kyotango City.

The table seating on the second floor that looks down on Ninenzaka is also popular.

The raised zashiki room on the second floor has Ryukyu-datami mats with no borders. The hanging scroll made with Nishijin technology and material is apt for Kyoto.

A path that leads to the back in the style of a tori-niwa dirt hallway, common in a Kyo-machiya (traditional Kyoto-style house).

The artwork behind the bar counter represents the three layers of espresso and the flow of spring water.

"A long, narrow first floor. It recreates the atmosphere of the Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro event that is held every year in the neighborhood with soft footlights and a lovely cashier and bar counter in the image of lanterns. Waiting for your drink at the bar counter in the back with a view of the back garden in the style of the Ura-senke school of tea ceremony​ gives you such a feeling of elegance. How lovely to compare it with the Omote-senke style garden near the front entrance." (Matsumoto, Writer)

The rain chain (hanging from a gutter and functioning as downspout)​ is lit up with LED lights giving it a magical feel.

It is fun to appreciate the hanging scrolls and tokonoma alcove that are unique to each room.

"Design elements that suite the Japanese-style house, such as the rain chain hanging on the stairs as a symbol of the connection between the past and present, are interesting. There are three zashiki rooms on the second floor with different designs and coffee-themed hanging scrolls that represent growth (developing), washing (processing) and brewing (extracting). There is sofa seating as well, so you can move there if your legs go to sleep." (Shimada, Editorial Department)

The building is a Japanese house in the Taisho Sukiya style designated as a traditional architectural building by Kyoto City. This is the only building in the Ninenzaka area where the large walls remain as they were.

The barista comments, "we are dedicated to maintaining the scenery in the Ninenzaka area, so we ask customers not to line up outside. We have a Japanese-style waiting area (photo) inside on the first floor, so please wait there."

■Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya Branch<Address: 349 Masuya-cho, Kodaiji-minamimon-dori-sagaru, Kawara Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto; Phone: 075-532-0601; Hours: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm; Holidays: Irregular; Capacity: 51 seats (no terrace seating); Parking: None; Access: 18 minutes on foot from Kyoto Gion-shijo Station or 10 minutes on foot from Higashiyama Yasui bus stop 20 minutes on the 100 or 206 line on the city bus from JR Kyoto Station>

Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya Branch

349 Masuya-cho, Kodaiji-minamimon-dori-sagaru, Kawara Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

A Sun-filled Glass-paned Interior with the Surrounding Nature of Uji

Kyoto Uji Byodoin Omote-sando Branch is right by Byodoin and has a large front garden facing Byodoin and a charming glass-paned interior. The greenery on the grounds and the surrounding nature are in perfect harmony and customers can enjoy the cherry blossoms that flower along Uji River in the spring and the foliage in Byodoin in the fall.

The building has a traditional Kirizuma roof to blend in with the historic Uji townscape.

The shop has many glass windows, so you can steep yourself in nature while staying indoors.

"The interior with the sun shining through the large windows with the greenery beyond is so relaxing you may find yourself dozing. It seems many customers order matcha green tea drinks. (Matsumoto, Writer)

The illustration for Starbucks coffees is branded on tea boxes appropriate for the city of Uji.

"There is artwork with Uji, greenery and rabbits by the bar counter. It's fun to look for the 10 rabbits that are hiding!" (Shimada, Editorial Department)

There is terrace seating in a garden with cherry and maple trees. It is especially recommended in the fall when the weather is mild.

■Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Uji Byodoin Omote-sando Branch<Address: 21-18 Uji-renge, Uji-shi, Kyoto; Phone: 0774-25-7277; Hours: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm; Holidays: Irregular; Capacity: 60 seats (41 indoors, 19 on the terrace); Parking: None; Access: 12 minutes by foot from Keihan Uji Station and 14 minutes by foot from JR Uji Station>

Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Uji Byodoin Sando Branch

21-18 Uji-renge, Uji-shi, Kyoto

The First Starbucks in a Park in Kansai with the Largest Floorspace in Western Japan

Starbucks Coffee Kobe Meriken Park Branch opened in Meriken Park, which was renovated to commemorate 150 years since Kobe Port was opened. It is designed in the image of a boat, under the theme of "KOBE HARBOR COFFEE CRUISE", and sets the stage for a luxurious boat trip with coffee in hand. One of the appealing points of this branch is the large number of seats.

The exterior is designed in the image of the bow of a boat. It is lit up at night.

Window seating on the second floor from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of Kobe at night.

"It is relaxing to sink into a sofa on the second floor and enjoy the night view. The second floor terrace from which you can see the Port Tower is popular among couples." (Shimada, Editorial Department)

Starbucks (R) Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (Tall / 561 JPY), a new type of iced coffee only available at a limited number of stores nationally, including three in the Kansai Area.

There is a fabulous view of Meriken Park and the Port Tower can be seen from the terrace.

"Both the daytime, when you can relax with a view of the beautiful lawn, and the nighttime when you can admire the view, including the lit up Kobe Great Bridge, are fantastic! (Matsumoto, Writer)

■Starbucks Coffee Kobe Meriken Park Branch<Address: 2-4 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo; Phone: 078-335-0557; Hours: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm; Holidays: Irregular; Capacity: 105 seats (71 inside, 34 on the terrace); Access: Use the parking lot at Meriken Park, 15 minutes on foot from Hanshin Motomachi Station>

Starbucks Coffee Kobe Meriken Park Branch

2-4 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 10.24.2017]

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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