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Seattle-based chain adapts to Kyoto style with summertime seats that offer a taste of traditional culture as you sip your coffee.

As with many places in Japan, you’ll find a surprising dichotomy in Kyoto. On the one hand, the country’s former capital remains one of its most refined centers of traditional culture. On the other, the local geography (Kyoto sits in an inland basin) makes the city swelteringly hot during the summer, even by Japan’s steamy standards.

But, as always, the people of Kyoto deal with this issue in an elegant way. During the warmer part of the year, riverside restaurants in Kyoto seat customers on what’s called a noryoyuka. Literally meaning “cooling floor,” noryoyuka are wooden platforms built out over the water, with a refreshing water-cooled breeze coming up from below.

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The most popular cluster of noryoyuka can be found along the Kamogawa River, which borders the Sanjo neighborhood, Kyoto’s dining district. But while many of these restaurants are high-class establishments serving full-course meals, there’s an alternative that’s both casual and reasonably priced: the Sanjo Ohashi branch of Starbucks.

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As long as you’re purchasing a drink or something to eat, there’s no additional charge to use the coffeehouse’s noryoyuka. You’ll probably want to grab a seat before you place your order, though, to make sure you don’t miss out on the gorgeous view of Sanjo Ohashi Bridge stretching over the river and the lush Mt. Nyoigatake beyond.

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Starbucks noryoyuka is open from the start of May until the end of September, so if you’re feeling thirsty or footsore after a day of temple-hopping, you know just where to take a break and recharge before heading out again to see more of Kyoto’s amazing sights.

Follow Casey on Twitter so he can keep you company during your next coffee break.

Restaurant information
Starbucks (Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi branch) / スターバックス京都三条大橋店
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Sanjo-dori, Kawaramachi, Hirashiiru Nakajimacho, Oumiya Building 1st floor
住所  京都府京都市中京区三条通河原町東入ル中島町113 近江屋ビル1F
Open 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Noryoyuka open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (May, September), 4 p.m.-10 p.m. (June-August)

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