With certain varieties of sakura trees already covered in pink blossoms, Japan has got cherry trees on the brain. Everyone is looking forward to go out and see the flowers that’ll only be here for a short time, but why settle for one Japanese tradition when you can have two by combining it with limited-availability fast food, in the form of cherry mochas and frappes from McDonald’s.
- Casey Baseel
Feb 27, 2014
Just like it does in other markets, Starbucks offers special limited edition merchandise for specific locations in Japan. But even if you’ve already got special tumblers from Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, you collection won’t be entirely complete without this special Starbucks bottle that you can only purchase onboard ANA flights inside or connecting to Japan.
With just over 1,000 stores covering practically every prefecture, Starbucks is a coffee powerhouse in Japan. Since opening its first store in Tokyo in 1996, the company has managed to adapt its business model to suit Japanese tastes with seasonal flavors, expanded (alcoholic) menu options and utilizing Japan’s unique architecture. Last week, Starbucks went one step further in its Japanese expansion plan by announcing that it would promote 800 temp workers to full-time positions, which netizens applauded as a move to create pressure on the Japanese market to provide better benefits to workers.
In one of the most vicious cases of deja vu we’ve had in decades, the twin of the massive snowstorm that dumped on Japan last weekend swung through the country with another few inches of snow on Friday. Unfortunately, in Tokyo at least, we also got enough rain to melt half of the snow, turning everything into a freezing, wet mess. Ah, winter!
As you can imagine, quite a few people are taking the opportunity to lock themselves inside and practice their “brrrrrrr” faces. But not the esteemed writers on the Japanese side of RocketNews24! They decided the snow was the best environment to find out if 100 adhesives warmers work as well as a coat. See the awkward results of the test below!
- Master Blaster
Jan 26, 2014
Recently the walls of the RocketNews24 office have been echoing with giddy squeals of “Eeeeeee… Takamina!” at a rate of about once per hour. In between, we have been treated to a middle-aged man’s song-stylings of AKB48’s single Koisuru Fortune Cookie.
It all started last year when our reporter Mr. Sato had entered a dance contest to meet graduating AKB48 member Tomomi Itano, but despite his best efforts he lost out. Now, he has his sights on Minami Takahashi (“Takamina”) and the chance to see her and other members in an exclusive show only available to the winners of a contest held by Japan’s Wonda Coffee.
A calm atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and decent coffee – what’s not to love about Starbucks (unless you’re a staunch New Englander who swears by Dunkin’)? If you walk into any branch, you will see a line of people waiting to grab their favorite caffeinated pick-me-up. You’re also likely see a bunch of people hunched over their laptops typing away furiously, either by themselves or huddled together in groups. The laptop of choice to go with their steaming mug of coffee? From what we’ve seen, it seems to be a MacBook Air.
Have you ever watched people when they’re silently working on a computer, wondered what they’re up to, and then all of a sudden a smug little grin inexplicably breaks across their face? This self-satisfied look is known as a doya-gao in Japanese. One of our Japanese reporters, who is a frequent patron of Starbucks, recently began to notice a correlation between the frequency of people using MacBook Airs in Starbucks and those wearing a doya-gao expression. Intrigued, she started taking notes, and discovered that there are three branches of Starbucks in Tokyo where the doya-gao phenomenon is particularly common…
Normally known for a spot to get a sugar-fueled caffeine fix, Starbucks recently opened a new outlet in Tokyo that is serving alcohol. The new coffee shop is part of a concept line of cafés the company is establishing in Japan to offer customers something a little different from the usual Starbucks experience. In addition to serving upscale coffee drinks and homemade desserts, this shop will be selling wine and beer after noon in the fashionable Shimokitazawa neighborhood.
Starbucks has a policy of seamlessly blending their coffee outlets into remote tourist locations around the world. So when two brothers in Bangkok set up their street-side coffee cart business under a familiar looking green logo, Starbucks was quick to assert that this was not one of their operations.
Damrong and Damras Maslae are now in hot water as the global coffee franchise is coming down hard and suing them for copyright infringement.
- Scott R Dixon
Oct 22, 2013
We here at RocketNews24 know that time is money and sometimes you need more than 24 hours in a day. Until we figure out how to manipulate time, we will be relying on our energy drink expert, Energy Man, to find out which beverage gives us the most bang for our sleep-deprived buck. Energy Man downs at least one or two (sometimes four, he admits) of these stimulant-laden drinks a day and wants to share with us his new favorite drink to wake us all up.
Energy Man recently saw a new drink on the market that he had to try. Being a connoisseur of these jolting beverages, Energy Man wondered if the world needed Wonda Power Blend Coffee in the already crowded energy drink market. Click the link to read why our Energy Man found himself saying “bravo!” to the new coffee drink.
It’s safe to say that no one you see at Starbucks is there because they want to stretch their java-buying budget. With locations in more than 60 countries (and seemingly every branch in the Tokyo area at maximum capacity every day between 3 and 7 p.m., the Seattle-based chain must be doing something right, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel a bit surprised at the prices they charge.
But the next time you’re sitting in a Starbucks in Japan or America, pretending to sip from an empty mug because you’re not quite ready to disconnect from the free wi-fi but don’t feel like laying out the cash for another cup, consider yourself lucky. You’d be paying a lot more for your latte if you were at a Starbucks in China.
- Andrew Miller
Sep 12, 2013
Regular readers and those familiar with Japan’s much-loved Yuki Jirushi brand of coffee will no doubt be aware of a contest to find a new mascot character for the drink that began back in April. After receiving hundreds of entries, the work was then whittled down to six potential designs, which were in turn put to a public vote for best character between July and August. To spice things up a little, some very cute girls in the cosplay/idol group Steam Girls also dressed up as the six finalists’ designs in a promotional event that caused quite a stir.
Looking at the effort involved and level of detail in each of the six designs, we here at RocketNews24 knew that choosing an overall winner would be tricky. We’ve been counting the days for the results to be announced, and today we’re thrilled to give you the full lowdown! Come and meet the Yukiko-tan crew!
Kohei Matsuno is no ordinary barista. What started as his way of sprucing up an ordinary cup of complimentary coffee for patrons at his part-time job has blossomed into a form of creative expression that has people around the world smiling. Known as “Mattsun” by his Internet followers, Mr. Matsuno brings life and whimsy to an otherwise ordinary cup of joe. Come with us now for a sneak peek at the work that goes into some of Japan’s most beautiful latte art.
There has been a lot of latte art featured on the Internet lately, but the coffee created by Japanese barista, Yuuichi Ito, are some of the best we’ve seen. Mr. Ito is serving works of art by the cupful at Belcorno, an Italian restaurant located in Ichinomiya City, Aichi Prefecture. Taking on the role as owner, chef, and barista at Belcorno, Mr. Ito is able to recreate popular characters from Disney, anime and manga out of foam, adding colorful accents and shading. Much like chalk drawings, it’s understood that latte art is not permanent, but it still seems a shame to destroy such beautiful masterpieces. At least we have the following pictures to enjoy!
Starbucks and virtually every other coffee shop worthy of faux hipster attention (the real hipsters having moved on to places that use siphons and play accordion music) have become synonymous with scenes of people using laptop computers in recent years, with rows of patrons sipping from paper cups while idly clicking, scrolling, pinching to zoom and staring lazily at their screens. Some even make temporary offices out of their few square feet of space, paying their rent in cups of joe and watched by hawk-eyed staff whose warm smiles drop a millimetre for every second a small cafe latte is nursed just that little bit too long.
For the rest of us, though, these table-hogging laptop luggers are a source of genuine intrigue. “What on earth could they be doing?” we wonder to ourselves, irked that they’ve taken all the good seats. “Are they actually working over there or are they just scrolling through photos on Facebook and tapping LOL into comment boxes?”
Japan’s My Navi News too was keen to know exactly what the folks who camp out at Starbucks are actually doing while the rest of us are engaging in conversations or staring awkwardly at the floor after making eye-contact one too many times with the cute barista, and put together a survey to find out. Let’s take a look at their findings.
“That’s one large cafe latte to go. Would you like a boyfriend with that?” A Japanese coffee shop’s dating recipe
- Paula Gerhold
Aug 17, 2013
In Western countries, they say that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Oddly enough, Japan uses the similar phrase: “Otoko gokoro wo tsukamu ni wa ibukuro kara,” or “you can snatch a man’s heart if you start with his stomach.” A local Twitter user managed to find a store in the Okubo area of Tokyo that might have taken this phrase a step too far, however.
Included on the store’s outside sign board, where normally you’d find today’s specials, was the coffee shop’s secret recipe for catching a man:
- Casey Baseel
Aug 9, 2013
Tea is the first beverage that comes to mind for most people when they think of Japan, followed closely by sake, beer, chu-hi, and a plethora of other alcoholic beverages for those who spent time at a Japanese university. There are plenty of coffee drinkers in the country too though, with Yuki Jirushi (“Snow Mark”) Coffee’s café au lait being a steady seller in supermarkets and convenience stores for 50 years.
With such a long history, however, the company thought the product’s image could use an updating, and they asked artists to submit their designs for a new mascot to be called Yukiko-tan (-tan being an even cuter version of the already cute Japanese name suffix –chan). Six finalists remain in the contest, and Yuki Jirushi recently held a promotional event to help the undecided pick a favorite by utilizing the tentpole that seemingly all major Japanese marketing campaigns are built around: cute girls.
Starbucks Refreshers, fruit juice-based beverages lightly caffeinated with green coffee extract, went on sale last year in the United States and have finally made their way over to Japan. Packaged in 200ml cans, the drink will go on sale at Seven Eleven’s nationwide for 191 yen excluding tax (about US$2) from June 25.
- Rachel Tackett
Jun 11, 2013
What do you do when it’s late into the evening the day before a big project is due? If you’re a good little worker, you rest easy because everything is already taken care of, but for those of us who have perfected the art of procrastination, it’s time to pull an all-nighter. And what is your beverage of choice when you want to stay awake? For a lot of people, the answer is a strong cup of coffee.
However, what many view as a miracle mug of liquid energy can actually have the opposite effect! In Natsuko Kasai’s book Sweet things are Bad for the Brain, the certified nutritionist and meal counselor explains how drinking coffee has an unexpected side-effect that can wear you out more than wake you up.
With locations all over the world, Starbucks has become many people’s go-to joint for a cup of joe. Even international travelers who find themselves in regions where sanitation standards may not be quite up to their own personal ones feel safe visiting the local branch of the Seattle-based coffee giant, where you can always expect a clean interior, friendly service, and fresh beans sourced from around the world.
Plus, if you visit one particular Starbucks location in Hong Kong, coffee brewed with water from a public restroom.
We’ve fallen in love with some gorgeous latte art in Japan but these new designs take the cake! Coffee craft is rapidly evolving to new heights, with cute, frothy characters now making the escape from 2-D and rising up to greet us from our cups. Kazuki Yamamoto, a pioneer of the trend known as 3-D cappuccinos, works on a new creation every day and has amassed a gorgeous portfolio of cute coffee friends. People in Japan and abroad can’t get enough of these amazing designs!
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