We visit the award-winning Starbucks to see if it’s still worthy of its title after a facelift. 

From Bali to Shanghai to Kyoto, we’ve visited a lot of gorgeous Starbucks locations both abroad and in Japan over the years. However, amongst all the many thousands of branches around the globe, there’s one that’s so impressive it’s been called “the most beautiful in the world”, and it’s located here in Japan. 

This very special Starbucks in Toyama Prefecture, about 360 kilometres (224 miles) north-west of Tokyo, blew us away when we first visited it three years ago. However, after hearing it had closed in October for a two-month renovation, we decided it was time to make the trip out to see it again, to reassess its beauty after the interior overhaul.

When we arrived on 19 December, its first day in business after the redesign, we could see that it didn’t look all that different from the outside. The only thing that had really changed on the outside was the updated sign, which stood out more in white instead of green.

▼ Exterior in 2016

▼ Exterior in 2019

The outside of the building was just as sleek and modern as before, but this store’s most beautiful aspect is said to be the view from inside, so we headed in for a closer look.

Stepping in through the door we were greeted with this gorgeous space, which strangely seemed noticeably brighter than it did on our last visit.

The views out to the adjacent canal, and the 9.6-hectare Fugan Unga Kansui Park surrounding it, also looked even better than we remembered. With the view appearing a lot nicer and the space inside a lot bigger, we contacted Starbucks to ask them more about the details of the redesign.

According to a Starbucks spokeswoman, the renovations mainly revolved around replacing kitchen equipment, air conditioning, and furniture. And while the floor space and glass windows hadn’t changed, the new furniture has been specially designed so that all customers can now enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding park from any seat in the coffeehouse.

Previously, all the chairs and tables inside had been the same height, regardless of where they were placed in the store. Now, the setup is similar to theatre or arena seating, where taller tables and chairs are set up furthest from the main-stage windows, tiering down in size to the lowest seating, located right in front of the glass panels.

The former furniture, photographed here in 2016, was also much bulkier, taking up a lot of floor space and creating a cramped environment.

▼ The change in furniture opens up the space brilliantly now and allows the light to flow freely inside.

▼ Whether you choose to sit inside looking out of the windows…

▼ Or out on the sun-filled terrace at a table or on a bench seat with your dog…

▼ The inside and outside spaces merge beautifully to create an incredibly relaxing environment.

So has the recent overhaul affected the beauty of the Starbucks that once won an esteemed Store Design Award when it opened in 2008? Absolutely, and in a great way. It’s even more beautiful than before, and as this store sign explains, the staff here hopes the renewal will allow customers to enjoy their coffee experience even more, bringing them “the best smiles” in the process.

The revamp is as impressive as the store itself and the beautiful park in which it’s located. It’s certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area, and if you pop by from 26 December, you’ll be able to enjoy Starbucks’ first-ever jiggly “lucky” Frappuccino, which is available for a limited time over the New Year period.

Cafe information
Starbucks Toyama Fugan Unga Kansui Park/スターバックス富山環水公園店
Address: Toyama-ken, Toyama-shi, Minatoirifune-cho 5
富山県 富山市 湊入船町5
Open 8:00 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
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