Great Excitement in Small Pleasures: A Starbucks Opens Nearby
ROHM Theater Kyoto ロームシアター京都 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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ROHM Theater Kyoto
ロームシアター京都

The old Kyoto Theater Hall near my house reopened today after some years of renovation, emerging as ROHM Theater Kyoto (ロームシアター京都). ROHM is a semiconductor company based here in Kyoto, last mentioned on my blog more than 10 years ago, before I got into photography or even blogging that much, on this post about their annual Christmas lights at their company headquarters. They must have paid a boatload of money to someone to get branding rights for this renovated concert/theater complex.

I have a vague recollection of seeing some kind of performance at the original theater 25 years ago, when trekking this deep into Kyoto was a rare thing for me. (I lived in Takatsuki City at the time).

More recently, the old hall was the site of the Presidential visit seen 10 years ago in Presidential Visit means REALLY BIG hubbub, and since we live nearby, it's been in the background of numerous shots, such as this and this and this and this and this.

Anyway, we don't really care about the theater itself, but the BIG BIG BIG excitement of the reopening is that it now includes a combined TSUTAYA Bookstore + Starbucks Coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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The theater had grand-opening events all day, but we were interested only in the 4:30pm grand opening of the Starbucks. We didn't know whether thousands might be waiting in line or no one, but we wanted to check things out so we headed over there a bit before.

It was bustling but not crazy. We showed up to find that they had taken pity on all those waiting in line and opened early, so the line was moving along briskly by the time we entered, and the wait was 20 minutes.

Kyoto Starbucks Coffee Cup -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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Kyoto Starbucks Coffee Cup
10 Staff where presumably two or three would normally be -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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10 Staff
where presumably two or three would normally be
Our Order -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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Our Order
We Sat away from the hubbub and it was quiet and nice -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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We Sat
away from the hubbub and it was quiet and nice
Second Floor Restaurant & Bar not part of Starbucks, but somehow integrated -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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Second Floor Restaurant & Bar
not part of Starbucks, but somehow integrated
Restaurant's Menu on the pricey side -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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Restaurant's Menu
on the pricey side
Third Floor some kind of lounge / book area I guess you can bring your Starbucks order here to chill -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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Third Floor
some kind of lounge / book area
I guess you can bring your Starbucks order here to chill

We like Starbucks coffee and even if it were a normal Starbucks we'd be pleased that it's close (but not within sight 😉 ). The real attraction for us, though, is the combination with the bookstore and the lounge-like areas; we envision that we can retreat there for some quiet quality time with a book (or, in my case, with the free Wifi).

Rediscovering the Second-Floor Restaurant we didn't realize it was connected from the lounge -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/40 sec, f/2, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Rediscovering the Second-Floor Restaurant
we didn't realize it was connected from the lounge
ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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Floor -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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Floor

On the way out of the restaurant / cafe / book building, I noticed that the floor was some very nice lightly-sculpted woodwork. I wonder how long the protruding ridges will last.

We took a look at the theater building as well. The main theater was completely rebuilt, but the sub-theater and the rest of the building were merely remodeled. Sadly, we weren't allowed to see the new main theater.

As Far as We Got -- ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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As Far as We Got

The gates barring the way, rather than some kind of impersonal security gate, were made of nicely-stained wood with a nice modern Japanese aesthetic....

ROHM Theater Kyoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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The whole area is getting a makeover. This past autumn the final leg of Jingu Street (Shrine Street), which dead-ended into the Heian Shrine, was closed off and turned into a pedestrian mall.

In Front of the Heian Shrine 平安神宮の前 -- Heian Shrine (平安神宮) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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In Front of the Heian Shrine
平安神宮の前

Compare with this photo from about the same place eight years ago, as seen on Snowy Round Trip to the Heian Shrine...

Eight Years Ago 八年前 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/500 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Eight Years Ago
八年前
Heian Shrine (平安神宮) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 70mm — 0.5 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos

The small playground that Anthony used to play in was also remodeled, with the location of things shuffled around...

Swinging with Mommy -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/25 sec, f/1.7, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Swinging with Mommy

The apparatus* are the same, but if you use the nearby photos link to compare to the many prior photos from the area, it becomes apparent that the locations are all different.

*Note to my mom: I realize that the plural of apparatus is apparatuses, but I invoke artistic license to use apparatus as singular and plural, 'cause it sounds better to me.

The reshuffling was apparently done to make space for a tourist-information center (for Japanese tourists; I saw no information in any other language) housed in an old streetcar, which you can see in the background of the photo above.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
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The very first electrical-power generation plant in all Japan was nearby, and as such the nearby Niomon Street was the first in Japan to have streetlights and streetcars, so the old streetcar here is apropos.

Old Photos of the Area -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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Old Photos of the Area
Ready to Drive Home -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/40 sec, f/1.7, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Ready to Drive Home

All in all it was a nice family outing.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/25 sec, f/1.7, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos

All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

I wish I could be happy too, but the pictures could have been taken in Chicago, New York, Paris, Timbuktu or Tokyo. We all look alike, act alike and do everything alike. The horrors of globalization. I miss the Mom & Pop coffee shops that proliferated Japan, the differences, the personal service and the lack of service. I see the photo of 10-11 young people eyes glued to their hand-held life supports, minds being drained and drinking the same corporate coffee… It is sad.

I can only think of the quote from Michael Krauss that ‘Television is a cultural nerve gas…odorless, painless, tasteless. And deadly,’ and this applies to the hand-held devices of these poor young people.

Written from another city with the same stuff as the Kyoto photos less all the cultural masterpieces, Fullerton, CA.

As you note, the kind of space is available all over the world, so our excitement is not that the space exists, but that it exists within walking distance for us. Personally, I like the taste of Starbuck’s coffee; I have had better cups elsewhere in Kyoto, but they’re hit’n’miss and hard to find, and usually in an environment filled with others’ cigarette smoke. And not walking distance. Without free wifi, comfy couches, and a laid-back atmosphere. I have visited “Mom & Pop” coffee shops within walking distance, and they may be an interesting experience for a visitor, but as a resident they were not interesting/good enough to visit again. —Jeffrey

— comment by Michael Yoder on January 11th, 2016 at 11:37pm JST (1 year, 5 months ago) comment permalink

The Kyoto Starbucks coffee mug is now on the list the next time I ravel to Japan. The outdoor seating area looks so Parisian, which I’ll bet is what they are going for.

Interesting about the book store. Guess e-books haven’t had the same effect on bookstore surviavl as they have here in the U.S.

— comment by An Expat on January 16th, 2016 at 1:57am JST (1 year, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Very interesting comments. Before I read the first one I was thinking wow what a hip, clean, modern and cool place . The kind of place that students, writers, hipsters, and all types go with good intentions but probably end up getting nothing done.

Mr. Yoder’s position is both true and false. It’s humbling to admit but one of the pleasures of visiting Japan is seeing how McDonald’s, Starbucks and all the other crap we consume here gets translated in an ‘exotic’ place like Japan. (Those quotes represent a bit of light sarcasm). FALSE: Japanese customer service at 7-11, McDonalds, Starbucks… generally speaking smokes American customer service by miles and miles. For an American to see fastfood staff as enthusiastic as the actors in a TV commercial, that is quite exotic. Also, I imagine the Japanese menu may be tweaked ever so slightly for whatever the current trends are there. (I defy you to find a Mc-Ebi Burger in New York City.) TRUE: The novelty of Japanese Pepsi, Starbucks, green tea Kit Kat, wears off after a few sips or bites. That sinking feeling described by Mr. Yoder sets in quickly.

Nevertheless, that upstairs bookstore lounge thing looks real swanky. Starbucks is ubiquitous but its not like gas station coffee. Also the Tsutaya bookstore… between the two and Kyoto itself? -you could do a hell of a lot worse. If either of you ever visits New York City, drop me a line, we’ll go troll Time Square so you can see UNI-CLO, Yoshinoya, Kinokuniya and Book-Off! (Heavy Sarcasm there, but only about visiting Time Square)

— comment by Ron Evans on January 19th, 2016 at 3:32am JST (1 year, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Looks like the young crowds enjoy Starbucks like they do here in the US – for the FREE wi-fi and not for the coffee!

— comment by Antonio Espino on January 20th, 2016 at 1:08pm JST (1 year, 4 months ago) comment permalink
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