International coffee chain Starbucks may be big around the globe, but in Japan, it has developed a cult-like following. Since opening its first outlet in Ginza more than two decades ago in 1996, the Seattle-born brand now has a whopping 1,434 stores (and counting) across the country.
For the past few years, its fandom has reached a fever pitch. In 2015, the opening of Starbucks’ first outpost in Tottori, Japan’s least populated prefecture, attracted a thousand fans to line up from the early morning hours so that they could be the first to enter the new store. Earlier this year, prior to the opening of the world’s largest Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Meguro, the coffee giant came up with a lottery system to give winners access tickets based on specific time slots to visit the outlet. Till today, it’s not uncommon to endure a waiting time of up to five hours at the Roastery on weekends.
Starbucks’ skyrocketing popularity in Japan is partly fueled by its continuous offering of seasonal, limited-time beverages and merchandise, most of which are exclusive to the country. Moreover, the coffee chain has found a way to adapt to local culture, creating Insta-worthy, one-of-a-kind spaces at inspiring locations while featuring cutting-edge architecture and design. In fact, these outlets are so innovative that you wouldn’t have thought it was a Starbucks until you notice the familiar green mermaid logo. So here are the most stunning Starbucks in the country, from one that’s set in a heritage house in Kyoto to the Kawagoe outlet that features a zen garden.
If you prefer local and independent coffee shops instead, check our full list here.