Customers queued at the grand opening of Kyoto’s new Starbucks branch on Friday — and it might just be the most beautiful one in the world.
The Kyoto Nineizaka Yasaka Tea House in Higashiyama — one of the most historical and well-preserved districts in the city — sits inside a renovated two-storey Japanese townhouse that once hosted geisha, according to The Independent.
Despite that fact that it houses the coffee chain, the tiled-roof building looks right at home among the historic temples and traditional shops that neighbour it.
Instead of the Starbucks sign, the globally recognised logo can be found on traditional “noren” door curtains — a pretty different approach to the other 26 Starbucks locations that exist in the city.
It is the first Starbucks to be designed in traditional tea-house style, complete with three tatami-matted rooms.
Customers must remove footwear and sit on silk cushions on the floor. (There are benches and a few rooms of tables and chairs for those who are unable or unwilling to sit on the floor, though).
The walls are decorated with hanging scrolls made from locally-made kimono fabric with Starbucks-themed prints on them, according to Mashable.
The ground floor leads out to zen Japanese gardens in the front, back, and centre.
The gardens are complete with “tsukubai,” or stone water basins.
According to CNN, the building is 100 years old. Despite the fact these photos were taken at the store’s grand opening, they suggest a sense of calm you wouldn’t find at other Starbucks locations.
This is because the company won’t allow people to form lines in front of the store, and it will restrict the number of customers during peak hours, according to the Japan Times.
Takafumi Minaguchi, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Japan, told CNN: “Walking through the noren at the entrance and venturing inside, we want customers to experience a feeling of being inside a traditional Kyoto machiya wooden townhouse.”
“As this store is in an area of great cultural significance, we feel a responsibility to be the stewards of the building’s traditional architecture and ensure that it remains an integral part of its historic neighbourhood for many years to come.”
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