We discover a secret way to get the best photos, and all-you-can drink Starbucks coffee!

It’s been almost half a year since Tokyo’s most famous Starbucks overlooking Shibuya’s scramble crossing shut its doors to the public. This was to allow Tsutaya, the main occupant of the QFront building where it was located, to totally overhaul the ten floors it occupies, and as a result, Starbucks got a whole new look too.

▼ The complex reopened to the public on 25 April, and our reporter Seiji Nakazawa was there to report on all the details.

As you might be able to tell from the photo above, Seiji was overjoyed to see the green mermaid return to this famous location, and he was especially pleased to discover he didn’t have to buy his drinks at the ground-floor sales counter and take them upstairs anymore, as the revamped store now has a counter on both the ground floor and first floor (which are known as the first and second floors in Japan).

The first thing he encountered when he stepped inside the QFront building was a pop-up display for the 2024 spring anime Wind Breaker. This ground-floor space is designed to appeal to local and international crowds with a rolling roster of different displays related to animation, music and high-end brands from Japan and around the world, and Wind Breaker is kicking things off with giant screens and posters, and some fun character displays.

While the entire building has been given a more modern feel, the floor guide also looks more stylish, moving away from Tsutaya’s blue-and-yellow brand colours and towards a sleek black-and-white palette, in line with the new jet-black logo created for this Shibuya Tsutaya.

▼ The new logo, seen on the 8th floor rooftop Studio, is a stylised “T” for Tsutaya.

Before heading up to Starbucks, Seiji made a quick detour to snap some photos of the basement levels. When he arrived at B1, it was shuttered off, so he went down to B2, where he found a load of merchandise and posters promoting idols and music artists.

The layout was more spacious than what it was previously, with far fewer CDs available and a vibe that was more like an event space.

With these areas looking different to how he remembered them, Seiji was curious to find out how different the Starbucks was, and when he arrived, he was pleased to discover the revamped space was a big improvement.

▼ The Starbucks is bigger than ever, now occupying the entire first floor.

As Seiji waited in line at the counter to place his order, he noticed that most of the customers here were foreigners, and surprisingly, the staff all spoke fluent English, making him think they were specially chosen to work at this location.

A large digital menu display beside the counter, written in both Japanese and English, helps customers to make their selections before even getting to the counter, speeding up the ordering process and shortening the wait time. Another thing to note is that all payments are now cashless.

As expected, this Starbucks was crowded, and once Seiji had his order, he realised he wasn’t able to find anywhere to sit. Wandering around to the window side, he found that the long table and bar stool-style chairs were no longer there.

While there were seats near the window, they were no longer right at the window, which freed up the space for people to stand and take photos of the view.

Seiji thought this was a big improvement on the previous setup, because before, when people took their time sitting at the window with a drink and maybe some food, it was difficult to get a ringside view at this prized location. Now, customers can enjoy their meals elsewhere in the store, before heading over to the window for unobstructed views of the crossing.

The amount of people at the window made Seiji realise this truly was a world-famous Starbucks, so he too sauntered over to snap a photo.

After checking out the Starbucks, Seiji headed up to the next floor, where he stumbled upon what looked to be a secret spot. Here, just one level up from the famous Starbucks window, was another window with the same vantage point, only this one has counter seating and no crowds.

This space felt a lot calmer than Starbucks, and the reason why you can basically have the place to yourself here is because you have to pay for it. The “Share Lounge”, as it’s called, isn’t all that expensive, though, and actually offers better value than Starbucks, because prices start at 1,650 yen (US$10.46) an hour for adults, which includes all-you-can-drink soft drinks. There’s also an all-you-can-drink alcohol option for 2,200 yen, which is a great deal for a place with such coveted views.

Plus, you can enjoy your fill of free food while you use the space, which, when Seiji visited, included baked goods and fries.

And when it comes to coffee choices, you can enjoy as many Starbucks coffee refills as you like!

Considering that a Starbucks drip coffee downstairs would set you back around 420 yen, and you could pay around 1,000 yen there for a coffee and muffin, the Share Lounge is fantastic value. In addition, there are restrooms, tables, comfortable seating, and free Wi-Fi and power outlets, and the Share Lounge stretches across the third and fourth floors, so you can use both levels.

The Share Lounge functions like a co-working space, so it’s a lot quieter and calmer than the Starbucks below.

According to Seiji, the view from the upper Share Lounge level on the fourth floor is even better for taking photos of the Shibuya scramble crossing below, because the entrance to the station is more obscured, giving you a greater bird’s-eye-view of the entire crossing.

▼ The view from Starbucks

▼ The view from the Share Lounge two floors above Starbucks.

The window seats can get busy in the Share Lounge areas, but you can check if there are seats available before entering, so it’s definitely worth visiting as a Starbucks alternative.

▼ The Share Lounge also has books and figures on display, featuring characters from popular franchises such as Chainsaw Man.

Seiji decided to explore the upper levels, where he found the Pokémon Card Lounge, and foreign tourists taking commemorative photos in front of the giant sign.

Above that is an entire “IP Shoten” level, which covers all sorts of things under the umbrella of “intellectual property”, including VTuber and oshi goods.

▼ According to Seiji, the vibe here is like anime store Animate.

A prominent display that caught Seiji’s eye was dedicated to one of Japan’s most unusual VTubers, Peanuts-kun, who was shown alongside ninja tanuki friend Ponpoko.

As a musician, Seiji has respect for the rapping Peanuts-kun, so was happy to see him being given such attention. However, this was the limit of Seiji’s building exploration for the day, because the Wind Breaker Cafe can only be accessed by elevator from the first floor, and Seiji was too full to eat any more at this point, and the rooftop level was reserved for private events only.

The new building was a treasure trove of surprises, and Seiji gave the revamp a big thumbs-up. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was not just the new-look Starbucks but the Share Lounge above it, so next time you’re thinking of stopping by to take an iconic photo of the crossing, remember there’s now more than one place to enjoy the views!

Store information
Tsutaya Shibuya / Tsutaya 渋谷店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho 21-6
Open: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Starbucks hours:  7:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (2F); 8:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (1F)

Photos © SoraNews24
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