Starbucks opened a store located on Kyoto’s famous Ninenzaka, the steep hill leading up to Kiyomizu Temple. In order to blend in with the traditional neighbourhood, they created the first ever ‘tatami mat Starbucks’ inside a renovated century-old townhouse.
The location also happened to be very close to Shimada Kouen, a doll makers shop which was established in 1859, and has helped keep the beautiful craft alive since then, passing the business down the family over five generations. They specialize in a type of traditional Japanese ornaments. The Gosho-ningyo, imperial palace dolls, because they were often given as gifts to Daimyo who visited the royal court at Kyoto.
Starbucks is collaborating with the workshop, utilising their expertise to create original souvenirs which are being sold exclusively in the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, a mega-coffee shop which only recently opened in Tokyo.
The most expensive one is a classic gosho-ningyo holding a gilded cup (50,000 yen), a maneki neko (beckoning cat) wearing a green apron like the Starbucks baristas and a Chinese zodiac rat (3500 yen), just in time for his year in 2020.
Although many lament corporate giants taking over the coffee scene in many countries, some are lauding Starbucks efforts to incorporate aesthetics, local culture into their ventures and using their influence to bring attention to traditional arts, like in this example, or more recently in Italy and their coffee culture.