Translated by Verity Lane
Starbucks Kobe Kitano Ijinkan: Have Coffee In A Tangible Heritage Site
This article features the Starbucks Coffee Kobe Kitano Injinkan branch, one of the unique concept stores of the global coffeehouse chain, located in a historical Western-style building in Kobe.
Written by Osawa Kumi
Starbucks Coffee Shops can be found all around the world, but did you know that some of the Starbucks branches are referred to as "concept stores"? One of these stores is Kobe's Starbucks Coffee Kitano Injinkan branch (*1), found in a Western-style building in the Kitano district of Kobe. The building itself has been recognized as a Tangible Cultural Heritage site, making this location one of the particularly unusual Starbucks concept stores in Japan. This time we will introduce you to the delights of this unique Kobe coffee hub.
When climbing Kitano-zaka hill in Kobe's prosperous district of Sannomiya, you will come across a beautiful building, painted in green and white, on the right side.
This is Starbucks Coffee Kobe Kitano Ijinkan, a branch that is bustling with both tourists and locals alike. This also happens to be the only place in Japan where you can savor a cup of coffee in a historical Western-style building. Whether on weekdays or weekends, this Starbucks is incredibly popular.
Please look up towards the left side of the entrance area. You can admire the distinct contrast between the white and green on the beautiful exterior walls and windows at close quarters.
As you come in, the room to your right is the lounge. All rooms have a plate with their name on it - just like the picture.
Some pieces of furniture are authentic antiques, which helps draw out the original atmosphere of this historical building.
Please check out the fashionable mood-lighting in all of the rooms. This is the lounge chandelier - isn't it lovely?
A Historical Overview of the Building that Survived Disaster
Before we show you around the second floor, let's go over the history of this ijinkan. This building is called Kitano Monogatari-kan. It was built in 1907, and is a registered Tangible Cultural Property.
The building was damaged by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, and was consequently destined to be torn down. However, Kobe City managed to keep a hold of the various building components, and the place was rebuilt in 2001 thanks to the efforts of the citizens of the city. It was then reopened as a Starbucks Coffee concept store in 2009.
You can see the original structure as well as the anti-earthquake reinforcement through the small window on the ground floor corridor.
Let's Have a Look Around the Rooms on the First Floor
You will come across this sign informing you of a low step, stationed on the staircase that leads up to the first floor. You can get a sense of how considerate the staff members really are!
When you go up to the first floor, there will be a dining room on the left side. The unique feature of this room has got to be the multitude of posters and paintings adorning the walls.
Next to this is the living room. The stacked bookshelves, together with the bay window-shaped sofa are a particular feature of this room. With so many rooms, and so many chairs, you may find yourself at a loss as to where to sit!
Enjoy the Bright Sunny Parlor!
Right at the back of the first floor (and facing Kitanozaka) is the sun parlor. One of the fun things you can do in this room is watching the comings and goings of the people outside from the large window.
You will find a writing desk and an old typewriter towards the back of the sun parlor. There are also many guest rooms on the first floor.
The Popular Menu and Language Support
The counter where you can place your order is towards the back of the ground floor, but we recommend that you find a seat before placing your order!
The menu is available in English and there are also staff members who speak English on hand, although this depends on their scheduling. The store is tourist-friendly, so just go ahead and place your order - the staff members will be happy to assist.
Popular items from the menu among overseas travelers are the cafe Americano (short size about 300 yen plus tax) and their matcha cream frappeccino (tall size about 470 yen plus tax).
Whether it's to preserve your travel memories, or quench your souvenir-buying needs, how about purchasing one of these Kobe limited edition tumblers or mugs?
Terrace seats are also located to the side of the entrance.
Even the iconic Starbucks logo of this branch has been toned-down to a classy wooden finish.
The night time lighting is particularly alluring. The light spilling out from within warms the hearts of the customers.
This time we received the following message for the many overseas visitors:
"This is the only place in Japan where you can enjoy a Starbucks coffee in a Western-style building. Venturing up Kobe's slopes can be a little tough, but we are awaiting your arrival!"
Wandering through the European quarters of Kitano district is a unique experience. So how about dropping by for a delicious Starbucks coffee in this amazing concept store?
Starbucks Kobe Kitano Ijinkan Store
Address: Kobe, Chuo, Kitanocho 3-1-31 Kitano Monogatari-kan
Credit Cards: All major credit cards (Union Pay cards not accepted)
Other Languages: English, Japanese
Nearest Station: Sannomiya Station, Seishin Yamate Line; Shin Kobe Station, Hokushin Kyuko Electric Railway and Seishin Yamate Line; Hankyu Sannomiya station, Hankyu Kobe Line; JR Sannomiya Station, JR Kobe Line
Access: 11-13 minute walk from each station respectively
Website: Starbucks Kobe Kitano Ijinkan