Quick Review: Traditional Tatami Starbucks in Gion, Japan
Guys! So there’s this brand new coffee shop that I’ve discovered!
It’s called Starbucks! Have you heard of it?
I’m not kidding.
To be fair it was a unique Japanese style Starbucks in the heart of Gion with a tatami mat section. As befitting a unique Starbucks the queue for a seat was uniquely long and this was exacerbated by its prime location in Gion. The building was very beautifully decorated though in a traditional style.
There’s nothing to say about Starbucks’ products: their coffee isn’t special, their food ordinary and the only unique products they offer are possibly their frappuccinos. People go to Starbucks because it’s a known brand with inoffensive food and drinks and they allow you to stay in their comfortable spaces until the end of time.
Things were a bit different in the Gion Starbucks: the actual tatami area occupied a very small portion of the building and accessed via a narrow space. This meant that I had to wait around 15 minutes before I could finally take off my shoes to clamber onto the tatami and secure a table.
The mats were clean and the area was quite cute with several little tables scattered about; the whole area could sit around 15 people. Sitting on tatami mats to sip on a Frappuccino was a difference experience for a Starbucks if a bit harried due to the pressurising stares of people waiting for a tatami spot. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn’t stayed in any ryokans during the trip already.
So the Starbucks in Gion felt more like a gimmick than anything else, especially as traditional Japanese tea-houses with tatami mats are generally accompanied with a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Go if you are in the area, like the idea of tatami mats and are a fan of Starbucks.