Just like big cities in the US, Starbucks are everywhere in Tokyo. I pass two everyday on my 15 minute walk to the subway station and one on the first floor of the office building. This makes my NYResolution to cut my coffee addition down to one a week very difficult! I've been to a lot of different Starbucks in Tokyo and I generally like the Japanese Starbucks better. Here's are five reasons why....
1. Just like the rest of Japan, it's very methodical and efficient. The Starbucks outside works has a chalk board outside with the floorplan of the cafe drawn on it. It shows you exactly where to stand and wait in line. After you order, you form another line at the end of the counter to receive your drink. Drinks come out in the same sequence as they were ordered. This is always good because I know when it's my turn and don't have to rely on what the barista is saying in Japanese.
2. I have learned to love picture menus! You just point to what you want on the menu on the counter and I have yet to get the wrong drink. They even have pictures for soy milk, extra shot, etc. so you can get exactly what you want without saying a word.
3. When you order a soy milk drink, they give you this cute cardboard cutout after you pay. When you pick up your drink at the other end, you hand the barista your card as a check to verify that they made it with soy milk.
4. Sorting trash is an extensive process in Japan. Fast food and convenience stores are no different. Here's I've taken a picture of the typical trash units at Starbucks. There are five chutes for trash. You have a different place for the cup, lid, cardboard, and even left over liquids in the middle. This way each material gets disposed of or recycled in the most environmentally friendly way. I dig it!
5. A lot of Starbucks are on multiple floors making for some great people watching. This is one of the more famous Starbucks in Shibuya, very close to my friend Kristyn's apartment. It's located right at the busiest intersection in Tokyo. It's amazing to grab a coffee here on a weekend and watch the people. I am attempting to embed the video I took from this Starbucks of the crosswalk below.. crossing my fingers it works. If not you can check it out on my Facebook page.