The coffee chain's new store design pays tribute to Japanese teahouses. 

By Elisabeth Sherman
Updated June 26, 2017
starbucks tea house in japan
Credit: Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is hoping to pay homage to traditional Japanese culture with a new location in Kyoto, modeled after a traditional teahouse.

The new coffee shop will be opening the Higashiyama district on July 30. It’s modeled after 17th century Edo-period architecture, a time of great prosperity and decadence in Japan. In another nodto Japanese culture (or slight, depending on how you look at it), the Starbucks will be located on Ninezaka Street, near Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple and World Heritage site.

The building where the café will be located was built over 100 years ago, and actually operated as a traditional teahouse until 2005, according to Rocket News.

Instead of a regular sign in front of the store, this Starbucks will be adorned with a noren – an entrance banner – that bears the Starbucks logo.

There are also multiple gardens on the premises, and the interior will be decorated with paper lanterns. The two story building embraces Japanese cultural traditions: On the second floor, patrons can take off their shoes as is the custom in personal residences, and sit on tatami mats, which are made from rice straw or wood chips, and are typically found in Japanese homes.

It sounds like a relatively respectful reimagining of the Japanese teahouse, though we're not quites sure how Frappuccinos are going to fit in. However, thee company is actually pretty adept at creating synergy between East and West: Starbucks Japan is infamous for their delicious-sounding twists on the drinks we get here, from their Cherry Pie Frappuccino, to another variety that comes complete with a slice of chocolate cake on top, to adorable little matcha pudding cups.

Sounds like a great place for a tourist to stop by if they’re homesick but want to stay true to their surroundings, or even a Kyoto-native looking to get their coffee fix in a chain that is still conscious of the country’s aesthetics. Maybe that’s what Starbucks is going for: a place that feels familiar no matter what culture you hail from.