Starbucks, Japanese Style


The “harmonious” design of a Starbucks outlet located at one of Japan’s top Shinto sites has outraged the architectural sensibilities of many Japanese, although pleasurable feelings of violation at the hands of corporate America are sadly complicated by the fact it was designed by Japanese architects…


The design for the Dazaifu Tenman-gū (a sprawling Shinto shrine complex in Fukuoka, built to honour the grave of deified Heian period poet and court schemer Sugawara Michizane – although rather more pertinently, it attracts 2 million visitors a year) branch of Starbucks was created by architectural firm Kengo Kuma & Associates.


As the branch is positioned on the traditional approach to the shrine, the Starbucks and their architects naturally felt they ought to “harmonize with the townscape,” resulting in the unmistakeably traditional application of scores of wooden sticks to the interior:

Along the main path to the shrine, there are traditional Japanese buildings in one or two stories. The project aimed to make a structure that harmonizes with such townscape, using a unique system of weaving thin woods diagonally.



The building is made of 2,000 stick-like parts in the sizes of 1.3m – 4m length and 6cm section. Total length of the sticks reached as far as 4.4km.


Piling up of small parts from the ground was highly developed in the traditional architecture of Japan and China. This time the method was greatly improved in combination with state-of-the art technology so that people are brought further into the architecture. It is a fluid, cave-like space.

As might be expected of such a daring and avante garde architectural creation, most non-architects seem to think it is terrible:

“This is a lumber yard?”

“More like a pile of disposable wooden chopsticks.”

“However you look at it, it’s a warehouse.”

“Looks like you could get a nasty injury.”

“You would not want to fall over in there.”

“I bet all the staff are covered in bruises…”

“Pretty creepy design. Wouldn’t like to see a fire in a place like that.”

“Must be a devil to clean.”

“Another worthless piece of architectural onanism.”

“I’m familiar with the architect and they do some nice stuff, but this really is just onanism.”

“Creepy. But what’s scarier is that some people actually have tastes which lead them to think this is stylish.”

“I’m more interested in why Starbucks thought they should open a store in a location like that.”

“It’s one of their ‘concept stores’ – they have a bunch all over the country.”


“They have some in China at traditional sites as well:”


“These are much better, they are in tune with the environment.”

“It looks like it would fall down. How can you be at ease there?”

“I think the idea must be to stop people from relaxing?”

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    Comment by Anonymous
    23:36 21/05/2012 # ! Good (+0.7)

    My Starbucks can't be this impaling.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:06 12/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    As expected, Japanese style looks like an ogre barbarian mound serving rat diarrhea.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:36 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, it does look like something out of a Saw movie.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:49 26/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    19:27 21/05/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    i afraid what happen to the costumers if they drinks there if a little "shake" happen at that time.

    Avatar of Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    18:20 21/05/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    it must be pain in the ass to clean everything from dust and dirt

    Avatar of LoveJoy
    Comment by LoveJoy
    00:06 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    That was my first thought too. :)
    I am just happy, that I do not have the dust cleaning job.

    second thought was:

    Pic 138734__468x_starbucks-japan-004.jpg does not realy make it look like it “harmonize with the townscape,”

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:40 21/05/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    I bet this place will be popular with spiders. Not so much with people who have arachnophobia...

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:56 21/05/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:18 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Unlimited Bokken Works!

    Avatar of Assassinister
    Comment by Assassinister
    06:29 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Unlimited Wooden Club Works!

    Avatar of Powerpuff Loli
    Comment by Powerpuff Loli
    08:00 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ultimate Sudoh-Bucks!

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:43 23/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    So... Starbucks + Saber...

    I WANT!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:34 21/05/2012 # ! Drivel (-0.8)

    unlimited wood blade works

    Comment by Anonymous

    unlimited enormously-sized chopsticks works

    Avatar of cats2
    Comment by cats2
    01:38 22/05/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Meh, pack it up and and ship it to LA or New York.

    The fucking hipsters that sit in them all day would love it..

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:57 21/05/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I wouldn't want to be inside the first one when an earthquake hit o_o ib4: impaled?

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:33 21/05/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    And people wonder why Japan is xenophobic. I'm not even Japanese, and I understand I wouldn't want people shitting all over my culture with their greed and corporate bullshit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:10 21/05/2012 # ! Good (+0.8)

    The Americans did that to Japan after WW2. The Japanese took what they received, made it their own (some might say better), and shipped it right back in the 60's and 70's.

    You want a cheap but well made transistor radio or stereo? Buy a Japanese brand. You want a cheap but well made motorcycle? Hands down, buy a Honda. In the market for a new camera? Try a Nikon or Pentax. Want a good Jeep-like 4X4? Toyota Landcruiser. We gave them Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Popeye. They gave us Astro Boy, Macross, Gundam, and Lupin the Third.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:34 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sorry but Mickey Mouse is belgian. I'm sure about Pop-eye but he is from Europe as well, i think.
    But it's ok: you gave us , wondrous color/shape patterns, manga style, mosaic and tentacle porn. I can't complain.


    Comment by Anonymous
    05:10 23/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'd never heard of Mickey being Belgian so I did a quick search.

    Mickey Mouse - created in 1928 by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney (both are Americans). All rights past and present owned by the Walt Disney Corporation.

    Popeye The Sailor - created in 1929 by Elzie Crisler Segar (an American). All rights past and present owned by King Features Syndicate.

    Bugs Bunny - created in 1938 by a team of artists at Leon Schlesinger Productions which was later bought out by Warner Bros.

    So yeah. There we are.

    Comment by Anonymous

    And now we got them with I-Pods and I Phones and Laptops, not to mention heavy avionics, machinery, and financial services :)

    I can just hear the jealous asspain of nips getting owned by apple in every way when every other phone in circulation is US-invented.

    Try not to get too uppity when u momentarily get ahead of yourselves. Wars are won in the end by sticking it out, not poping champaign when you happen to momentarily gain smallest of upperhands.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:08 24/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've been to Shinto temples, and the crass commercialism lining the .5 km street that leads to a major temple would put any American flea-market to shame. Small shops barely 3m x 3m crammed with every cheap-ass trinket you can imagine on a "street" that is barely 3m wide itself, that go on for blocks. We were astounded that ANY religion would allow such activity on their land, but the Japanese tourists we saw were perfectly at home with the whole thing. So I don't understand the complaints here. If the "crass commercialism" of Star Bucks being just one of the hundreds of shops lining the path to the Shrine is a problem, then shut-down all the OTHER shops as well.

    Terry Kepner []

    Comment by Anonymous

    Maybe if you pulled your shit talking, 5-year old logic talking, laughably childish head out of your ass, maybe you would realize coffee they make is pretty decent, way more decent than what you make.

    Your argument applies to all corporations across the world united in greed, cronism, and corruption i.e. most japanese companies. If you are not interested in living up to your own criticism, I suggest keeping your mouth shut.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:36 24/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    what the fuck are you talking about. a shinto shrine is a sacred place and not for a starbucks. this isn't a locally owned place. would you want a starbucks at the "United States National Cemetery"

    i dont see any japanese companies invading other coountries. yet you can easily name western companies invading others.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:39 26/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Maybe if you pulled your shit talking, 5-year old logic talking, laughably childish head out of your ass, maybe you would realize coffee they make is pretty decent, way more decent than what you make."

    Maybe if you pulled YOUR head out of your ass you'd realize that Starbucks is nothing like an actual Italian espresso bar which they're trying to emulate. Their "coffee" is shit tier in comparison too. 25% espresso + 75% hot water = Americano.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:39 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You must be _ this tall to ride our Starbucks.

    Avatar of oniichan
    Comment by oniichan
    08:12 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    It fits the people. If you think 5 bucks for a coffee is a good deal, then I guess you would like the architecture.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:22 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    That whole building says "Go away"...

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:49 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Which is odd, since it has 2million visitors a year.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:07 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    2 million suicidal visitors a year.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:44 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nah, just people tired of the same old bland building.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:11 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I feel sick tot think of all the trees they wasted building that piece of junk.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:19 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Very interesting, design-wise. However I don't think it blends with the surroundings at all. If anything the front of the store looks like some kind of wooden rocket launcher array...

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:08 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    04:05 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Do you want get a cup of coffee or get impaled?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:35 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    wow those starbucks are awesome!

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:09 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    If I were a Vampire, I'd be horrified...but being just a mere human,...I'm still horrified.

    Avatar of cpc65
    Comment by cpc65
    07:31 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sign on wall : NO SMOKING! We REALLY mean it!

    Avatar of cpc65
    Comment by cpc65
    07:30 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I might get board if I went there.

    Avatar of Barbarian of Gor
    Comment by Barbarian of Gor
    03:39 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)


    Talk about wasted space.... And for Japan where it's at a legendary premium.

    Really, ever look into Starbuck's symbol? It's the "Siren" of greek/western mythology. The sanitized versions have them singing to get sailors to drive their ships onto rocks. In the real myths it's so they can eat them and they also use seduction. She's got two tentacle like fish legs but a human organ and she's spreading 70s Hustler magazine style.

    Avatar of Uncommon0taku
    Comment by Uncommon0taku
    10:48 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    What do the Local Fire Officals think about it?

    Imagine just one unruly rogue with a lighter can cause a hella lotta chaos - if he's kept waiting for too long.

    Avatar of Kiljoy616
    Comment by Kiljoy616
    20:57 23/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Interesting design but over done. What where they thinking as they built this. Gives me the mouse in a trap feel just looking at it.

    Avatar of KingFisher
    Comment by KingFisher
    20:20 23/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    All I can say is that the building looks painful.

    Avatar of boneless
    Comment by boneless
    20:37 24/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    To pick up your mocha half-caf, YOU MUST DEFEAT ME.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:10 24/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can't stop picturing Japanese hipsters drinking coffee and doing something on a Mac in a chopstick Starbucks. LAMFO

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:38 25/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    How would you like a ceiling that looks like a 1,000 sticks of stabbing toothpicks?

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:22 24/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    They have GOT to be kidding here. I wouldn't go near that StarBucks with a 100 mile long pole for fear of getting impaled.

    Whoever approved that design needs to be fired.

    Avatar of Zet@
    Comment by Zet@
    Comment by Anonymous
    11:46 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I won't be able to relax in there since I'll keep on worrying that the walls are going to impale me if I lower my guard.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:07 22/05/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Same here. I don't want to drink my coffee in this menacing Starbucks.

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