10 Things I love about Starbucks in Tokyo

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1. Their bathrooms are far enough from the register that I can sneak in, use the restroom, and duck out – without any problems. I don’t know how many of you live in Tokyo, but there aren’t a lot of public restrooms in this city. And by not a lot, I mean seriously, where are you supposed to pee?

The only bathrooms I can find are in large department stores or inside the ticket gates of train stations. But there is not always a large department store around (and you have to pay to get into the train station). Therefore, all my hopes fall on Starbucks and McDonald’s Bathrooms. For obvious reasons (gastrointestinal problems that are associated with eating at McDonalds), I prefer Starbucks.

Starbucks bathrooms are wonderful, always clean, and smell like coffee.

2. The Starbucks soy cards.

IMG_7342I’m allergic to milk, which causes a never-ending headache when travelling or eating at any restaurant (even in America). My biggest fear is accidentally ingesting milk. Even when I order, I know that people can make mistakes – cheese in my pasta, whipped crème on my fruit smoothie, milk instead of soymilk in my coffee. You get the point. There have been several instances when I just haven’t finished my meal or drink because I’m scared it might accidentally have a milk product in it.

Thankfully the Starbucks’ in Tokyo have decided to help me out. Whenever I order a drink, they hand me this card. When I pick up my order, I exchange cards with the barista, who then double-checks my cup to make sure it was, in fact, soymilk, and has been correctly labeled with its own soy sticker.

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And trust me, they check.

3. It is not weird to teach English at Starbucks. It’s pretty common. Every time I hold a lesson, regardless of the time or Starbucks, there is always at least one other foreigner also doing lessons.

Somehow being at Starbucks makes the whole experience more “authentic.” (But honestly, I would rather meet at McDonalds – another foreigner hot-spot with MUCH cheaper coffee)

The only downside is that I feel like I am catering to the stereotype of Americans. As a foreigner, it seems like every time I’m talking to a Japanese person and mention the fact that I hold my lessons at Starbucks, they are like “Of course you hold your lessons at Starbucks. You’re American.”

4. They are everywhere. This goes along with the fact that it’s easy to teach English or meet friends at Starbucks. Granted- I’ve never actually gone inside a Starbucks in Tokyo unless I am teaching classes there, but if I wanted to, I could.

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Starbucks are a close proximity to literally every single train station in Tokyo.

5. They play American music. This sounds horribly petty – but living in Japan, I’ve really fallen out of touch on current pop music. Or any other kind of music, for that matter. So every time I am teaching English at a Starbucks in Tokyo, I listen for fun music and jot down the lyrics if I like them. My student just assumes I’m taking notes, and when I get home I Google the lyrics to find the song. I’ve found several of my new favorites this way.

6. The atmosphere. I only go to Starbucks to teach (otherwise it is WAY too expensive), but even after a lesson I just like to sit, read my kindle, or do homework for a couple hours. It is very relaxing.

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Most Starbucks have two “rooms.” The first room (usually on the first floor) is where you order. They have a couple assorted desks sitting around, but most people go into the back room (sometimes a different floor) to drink their coffee, do work, or meet up with friends. And it is perfectly normal to get one cookie or drink and sit in Starbucks all day.

No one comes by and ushers you out (or makes you order another drink).

Starbucks is a great way to meet people.

7. Their Soy Chai Lattes are Delicious. Seriously, try one. They are delicious.

8. Their themed drinks are also delicious. I’ve been told from friends that the Starbucks in Tokyo offers seasonal drinks you can’t find in America.

I wasn’t sure I believed them until I saw their Sakura White Chocolate Frappuccino. I really doubt that American Starbucks has a Sakura White Chocolate Frappuccino. Sakura themed things are pretty uniquely “Japanese.”

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I’m allergic to milk (as I said before), but I did get a sip of a friend’s drink, and DEAR GOD those things are delicious.

9. Their buildings are beautiful. Japanese architecture is usually pretty, and the Starbucks in Tokyo are no exception.

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10. They change their stores and products depending on the season. Once again, I’m not sure if Starbucks in any other countries also does this, but the Starbucks in Tokyo does.

It’s springtime now, so the coffee cups are “Sakura cherry blossom” themed. I think it’s adorable.

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Cons of Starbucks:

1. Expensive. It’s so expensive.

Like seriously, six dollars for a cup of coffee? Who does that?

2. I feel like I am catering to the stereotype of Americans. Like I said before, it seems like every time I’m talking to a Japanese person and mention the fact that I hold my lessons at Starbucks, they are like “Of course you hold your lessons at Starbucks. You’re American.”

It’s an uncomfortable feeling…

 Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

2 Comments on 10 Things I love about Starbucks in Tokyo

  1. actually you could just use ‘shazam’ on your smart phones to find the songs. :)

  2. You can actually find toilets at most conbinis. They are free to use even without purchasing anything! :)

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