IS 11

Shintoism has such a large pantheon of gods that the religion even has a structured way in which they all keep in touch with each other. Every October, the deities enshrined across the nation are said to gather in Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo Taisha Shrine, where they convene for their annual divine meeting.

We imagine it’s a busy conference, considering that some eight million deities are thought to attend. So we’re sure several of them were happy to find Izumo City now has a Starbucks, with the same tasty beverages the chain serves all over Japan, but with Japanese décor that’s unique to Izumo.

As one of Japan’s least-populated prefectures, Shimane boasts just two branches of the popular coffee house. The first, connected to Matsue Station in the prefectural capital of Matsue City, looks like it could be located anywhere, but Izumo’s has a definite sense of place to it.

IS 2

IS 3

Opened last April, the branch is situated across the street from the entrance to the Izumo Shrine grounds. With its latticed windows, tiled roof and awning, and frame reminiscent of a traditional Japanese nagaya longhouse, the exterior lets you know right away that you’re an ocean away from Seattle.

IS 4

The first floor houses the service counter, with seating on the second floor for those who aren’t getting their coffee to go.

IS 9

Aside from the standard two-person setups, there’s a large communal table shaped like a magatama, the curved beads whose form resembles a comma or the number nine and which have religious significance in the Shinto faith.

IS 8

IS 5

The prime seats, though, are the ones along the window. The compact benches, equipped with Japanese-style round cushions, are just big enough for you and a friend or date, and the floor is cut out so you can let your legs dangle.

IS 7

Best of all, straight ahead you can see the torii gate that marks the entrance to Izumo Shrine.

▼ The latticework makes it tricky to photograph, but all the cooler when seen with the naked eye.

IS 6

If you’ll forgive us for being just a little picky, we were kind of disappointed that when we stopped by, the branch was playing the same Christmas jazz mix over its speakers as all Starbucks in Japan right now. While we can’t really fault the staff for getting in the holiday mood, we couldn’t help but feel that something more traditional might have been a better fit, so if you’re really looking to steep yourself in the local atmosphere as you sip your java, you might want to bring your iPod and “Japan” playlist.

IS 10

Café information
Starbucks Coffee – Izumo Taisha Branch / スターバックスコーヒー 出雲大社店
Address: Shimane-ken, Izumo-shi, Taisha-cho, Kizuki Minami 841
Open 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]