The Kyoto Starbucks Located In An Original Japanese Townhome

Starbucks has opened some unique locations around the world, and the shop in Kyoto, Japan deserves a special nod. Starbucks Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya is considered a regional landmark store, as the area known as Ninenzaka has maintained and preserved architectural designs that date back to 1912. While tourists flock to the neighborhood to visit temples and pagodas, Starbucks has managed to bring a touch of modernity to the community with its coffee menu — while respecting local traditions and culture of the past. 

The building in which the store is placed is over a century old, and though the house may have once been used to serve tea, caffeine lovers can now enjoy lattes while sitting next to hand-painted scrolls. This location is the only Starbucks that is marked by a noren curtain, and if discerning visitors aren't careful, the tastefully indicated storefront might be missed. Unlike the well-known green logos that adorn most other stores, this location is marked subtlety, with engravings in the roof's tiles and a hanging wooden sign.

Blending old and new

Similar to other shops in Kyoto, the layout of this Starbucks is narrow and long. Because the floorplan isn't as open as other Starbucks stores, customers are instructed to move in a specific direction when placing orders and choosing a place to sit. Paper lanterns cast light throughout the space, and wooden details serve as reminders of a more traditional style. 

On the second floor of the store, three separate rooms with tables and seating welcome guests, and shoes must be removed upon entrance. Because space is limited and waiting outside the store is prohibited, you'll need to place your coffee order strategically. An online platform helps visitors reduce waiting time, and early morning hours are typically less crowded for those wanting to linger in the space.

It took a decade to bring this shop to life, from the initial design stages to the first cup of coffee poured, yet the team behind Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya was committed to building a store that would honor Kyoto's unique history while bringing modern energy to the neighborhood. The hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, however, as the location was awarded the Kyoto Scenery Award for its efforts. Whether trying a seasonal recipe like the Honey Marron Latte or enjoying any of Starbucks' other popular drinks, this seems like an excellent location to savor a fresh cup of joe.