Out of the 47 total prefectures in Japan, Tottori is the only one left without a Starbucks. Total Starbucks domination may seem imminent with plans in the works to open the first shop by spring 2015. However, a new coffee chain opened in Tottori on April 4, and word on the street is that it seeks to rival the international coffee giant. Even its name is a linguistic play on the word “Starbucks.” Do you think this new local business can put a damper on Starbucks’ eventual expansion?
Apr 4, 2014
Sweet heavens, someone help us because we’re squirming half in delight and half in agony after seeing the newest press release from Starbucks Japan. Half in delight, because we’ve been given a glimpse of the divine-looking new Frappuccinos that will be coming out later this month, and half in agony because we can’t have them RIGHT NOW!
And unless you have a deadly hatred of sweets, we think you just may feel the same way after hearing the description of the two new banana and chocolate based Frappuccinos that were announced earlier this week. Yup, chocolate and banana — you really can’t go wrong with that combination!
With the earliest varieties of cherry blossoms already starting to bloom around Tokyo, it’s almost time for sakura season to get into full swing! It’s Japan’s most enticing time to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of nature! There’s just one little problem, though.
It’s still pretty cold out.
So if you’re torn between feeling immersed in Japanese culture and feeling anything in your toes, here are six Starbuck’s locations where you can relax with a warm cup of coffee while gazing at the cherry blossoms just outside the windows.
- 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.
- Casey Baseel
Feb 1, 2014
Is it spring yet? I know my southern Californian upbringing means I whine whenever the temperature is cold enough that I have to put on a jacket to go out, but I could seriously do with some warmer weather right about now. There’s all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming season, such as longer days, being able to spend more time outdoors, and the blooming of the sakura, or cherry blossoms.
And just in case the deal needs any more sweetening, there’s also Starbucks’ springtime sakura beverage lineup.
Mr. Sato takes a stroll in his USB Pollen Blocker: “Felt great but it was a struggle to order coffee”
- Master Blaster
Jan 27, 2014
A few days ago we brought word of a revolutionary hay fever remedy from the folks at Thanko. Harnessing the mighty power of nylon and universal serial bus ports, the USB Pollen Blocker may be our savior for this impending allergy season in Japan.
To be sure, we picked one up in Akihabara and gave it to our resident ace-reporting guinea-pig Mr. Sato for a road test. Did it cure him of his seasonal sniffles or did it simply make him look like an demented bee-keeper on the streets of Tokyo? The following is his report.
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…
Tottori Prefecture, the final frontier. It may sound strange, but when it comes to Starbucks, Tottori is uncharted territory and the only prefecture in all of Japan without a Starbucks location. That will all change soon as the coffee giant plans to open a new store somewhere within the small prefecture’s borders by March 2015.
With the largest population of elderly folks in all of Japan, it might seem natural that Tottori went without a Starbucks for so long. However, you might be surprised to find that there are places in Tokyo that have yet to see the familiar green and white mermaid.
A New Year’s Tradition in Japan is the fukubukuro (lucky bag) sold in most businesses in the country. Basically it’s a bag full of merchandise sold at a fixed price, but the catch is you don’t know what’s inside. For example, last your our reporter waited eight days to get an Apple fukurobuko only to get some measly accessories, while the guy in line behind him scored a MacBook Air (don’t worry the story had a happy ending, and this year turned out a lot better).
This year our food reporter Kuzo got a Starbucks lucky bag in hopes of some high quality coffee and related gear. Did fortune smile on him? Let’s find out.
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.
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.
Tully’s Coffee checks off every last prefecture, set to open store in oft-forgotten Tottori Prefecture
- Andrew Miller
Sep 24, 2013
American coffee chain, Tully’s Coffee, is set to open a new coffee shop in Tottori Prefecture which will see it secure a firm foothold in every last prefecture in Japan. The absence of a Starbucks in Tottori Prefecture means that Tully’s Coffee will effectively steal the lead over the big S, who has set to set up a store in Japan’s least populous prefecture.
- Paula Gerhold
Aug 30, 2013
Japan has a few really helpful resources for those in search of jobs. Besides their useful Hello Work program, they have a very popular website and magazine called an, publicized by pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself. The site lets you search want ads and find places that are hiring in your area and field of expertise. In particular, a lot of college students and people new to the workforce turn to an for help finding employment.
an recently conducted a survey of first-time part-timers to try to find out what places are happenin’ in the modern world of fresh-faced young workers. The results were interesting, to say the least. Who knew how many people longed to become a Starbucks barista??
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.
Starbuck’s remains a hugely successful coffee chain in Japan drawing droves of workers on a daily basis. Of course, their drinks don’t come cheap, which is why the guys at Omocoro are constantly looking for ways to recreate the Starbucks experience at home and on the cheap like their homemade Frappuccino.
In another experiment they sent writer Kisho into a back room, locked the door, and told him not to come out until he could surpass the Starbucks formula.
It’s been four months, and everyone at Omocoro has forgotten about Kisho’s existence. However, some startling news out of Hong Kong has him racing against the clock to complete his mission or die trying. Here is his story.
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.
People in Japan love Starbucks coffee and their cute, branded drinking tumblers. In big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka you can even buy limited edition tumblers with different local designs. The regional travelling cups are sold at a number of stores though, so they’re actually not that difficult to come across. For die-hard fans looking to get their hands on the Holy Grail of Starbucks drinking vessels, you’d be better off heading to a store at Haneda airport, the one place in the world that sells this very exclusive tumbler.
Most Starbucks coffee houses are easily identified by their oversized green umbrellas out on the patio, a huge green and white cap-locked name sign and a twin-tailed mermaid emblem beckoning the caffeine-deprived masses in for a cup of joe. But the following Starbucks coffee houses, some with wooden signs and earth-tone color schemes, are hardly recognizable. In fact, many of these unique Starbucks stores were created in response to opposition from local residents who were concerned that the addition of a cookie-cutter corporate monstrosity would ruin the area’s original ambiance. Take a look at these surprisingly beautiful Starbucks stores throughout Asia.
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