You can find thousands of Starbucks coffee shops all around Japan, but there is one that stands out. The Starbucks in question is located in the heart of Kyoto’s ancient Higashiyama district on Ninen–zaka street and is a real gem!
Starbucks in Japan
Of course, you can find Starbucks everywhere in the world and although it’s still my favourite coffee shop chain, I usually avoid it when travelling to try something different instead. You might be inclined to do the same, but personally, I think Starbucks coffee shops are worth visiting in Japan.
Just like McDonald’s (seriously, check out the Japanese McDonalds specials!)- Starbucks in Japan can be a bit of a fun surprise. You have the normal drink menu- of course- but Japan, in general, is quite famous for dishing out some amazing limited edition items and Starbucks is no exception. Especially during cherry blossom season and Halloween you can find fun and tasty limited edition drinks and cakes that tend to sell out quite fast.
Higashiyama is one of Kyoto’s oldest and most beautiful neighbourhoods. The 100 years old building which houses the coffee shop was fully restored and blends in seamlessly with the rest of the street. Even the iconic green Starbucks sign was toned down to fit in with the rest of the design.
It can actually be quite easy to miss the building if you’re not looking for it. Before I decided to visit it for a coffee I had walked down this street at least five times without even noticing it.
The front yard on the first floor has a small garden with traditional Japanese decor in form of a tsukubai. Everywhere you look you can find traditional Japanese elements that are closely intervened with Kyoto’s past.
The cafe is spread over two floors. The whole coffee shop has 51 seats but due to its popularity it can be hard to get one at times. Especially in one of the popular tatami rooms!
In order to go be able to choose a seat on the second floor, you have to order something at the counter on the ground floor first. Queuing outside the coffee shop is not allowed so during busy times it’s best to ask a staff member about waiting times first.
Like to see more gorgeous coffeeshops? Check out The most beautiful Cafés in London
Visiting this Starbucks was my favourite coffee shop experience in all of Kyoto.
I loved the wide selection of cakes and especially the Matcha flavoured items. There is definitely no better place to have Matcha than in Kyoto.
I opted for a limited edition Goma Goma Goma (Sesame) cake and a plain black tea, though.
The Goma Goma Goma frappuccino and cake are inspired by the ancient New Year’s “first calligraphy” tradition and is part of “Starbucks Japan Wonder Project“.
I have to say that I really enjoyed that cake and wish I had tried the Frappuccino also.
We managed to snatch a seat in one of the small tatami rooms, after a bit of waiting, which only has four tables and a very relaxing atmosphere.
Of course, you have to take your shoes of first before you can sit down and enjoy the place.
If you like Starbucks coffee and are keen to explore Kyoto’s more traditional side then I recommend visiting this place!