Two New Starbucks to Open at Historic Sites in Japan
Two new Starbucks branches are set to open at Miyajima’s famous floating ‘torii’ shrine gate and Dogo Onsen, the bath house that inspired Spirited Away.Japan is already home to several Starbucks coffee shops housed in interesting and unusual buildings, including the “world’s most beautiful Starbucks”, an outlet on the canal banks in Toyama Kansui Park which scooped first prize at the 2008 Store Design Awards. Now there’s set to be even more competition among Starbucks shops at coveted locations around Japan, with the opening of two new stores at two of Japan’s top tourist spots.
Starbucks Itsukushijima Omotesando
Starbucks Itsukushijima Omotesando will open on Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, known for its giant ‘floating’ torii shrine gate, on Wednesday 22nd November. Since the 30 km sq island’s only link to the mainland is by ferry rather than bridge, it will be the first Starbucks outlet in Japan that is accessed by boat.
The new store will be located in the Omotesando shopping arcade leading to Itsukushijima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the home of the celebrated ‘floating’ shrine gate. Starbucks customers will be able to admire sweeping views of the shrine gate set against the backdrop of the Seto Inland Sea from the shop’s glass-walled upstairs.
The coffee shop will share its premises with a brewery restaurant, complete with in-house brewing facilities, by Miyajima Brewery. The brewery is one of Hiroshima’s foremost craft beer companies and was founded on Miyajima.
The new shop’s interior design will be based on the concept of “passion brewery”, encapsulating both Starbucks’ and Miyajima Brewery’s shared vision of passion for their respective brewed beverages as well as the local area of Miyajima.
Customers will be able to sip their beverages while admiring fantastic views of Itsukushima Shrine’s giant torii against the ever-changing backdrop of the Seto Inland Sea from the shop’s glass-walled interior. Alternatively, they’ll be able to go al fresco, soaking up views of the boundless ocean scenery from a large balcony on the seaward side of the building.
Visit Miyajima, aka ‘Shrine Island’
Itsukushima Island is a small island in Hiroshima Bay, about an hour’s travel from the centre of Hiroshima, that is most famous for UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine and its giant ‘floating’ torii shrine gate. In fact, the island’s identity is so closely linked to Itsukushima Shrine that it is more commonly known as Miyajima, which literally means ‘shrine island’.
Itsukushima Shrine’s bright orange shrine buildings are suspended over water on wooden boardwalks and pillars going down into the sea - much like a British amusement pier - while the giant torii gate rises up majestically a couple of hundred metres away out in the bay.
There are a few different ways to enjoy the iconic sight of the torii gate standing proudly out in the bay. At high tide, visitors can follow the paths around the inlet and enjoy the views out to sea. Alternatively, short boat cruises whisk passengers around the bay and sometimes through the torii gate itself. At low tide, the tide goes out completely, and it is possible to walk out across the mud and admire the gate from up close - don’t forget your wellies!
Miyajima’s highest peak, 500 metre tall Mt Misen, has been worshipped by local people since as long ago as the 6th century. Visitors with time to spare can follow one of the island’s hiking trails up to the summit, passing sights such as the Tahoto pagoda, several scenic lookout points, clusters of cherry trees in spring, and autumn foliage-filled Momijidani (Autumn Leaf Valley) in autumn.
Starbucks Dogo Onsen Station Building
Based on the design concept of “Line to Coffee Travel”, the new outlet aims to offer a relaxing space that invites customers to embark on a journey into the worlds of coffee and rail travel.
Downstairs, baristas will whip up a never-ending stream of lattes and macchiatos from behind a bar counter made of repurposed railway sleepers. Behind the bustling baristas there will be a glass window enabling customers to enjoy the nostalgic sight of trains coming and going as well as the reinvigorating smell of coffee while they wait for their drinks.
Visit Dogo Onsen
The main attraction in the town is Dogo Onsen Honkan, a wooden public bathhouse dating from 1894. The inside of the bathhouse is a labyrinth of winding and interconnecting corridors, stairways, passages and rooms that bustle and teem with bathhouse staff and bathers during opening hours. This lively, bustling backdrop is said to have served as the inspiration for the bath house in Studio Ghibli’s immensely popular animated film Spirited Away.