Coffee to Stay

Back to Contents of Issue: March 2000

by Hiroko Kuroda

Doutor, one of the big coffee chains in Japan, could probably use a caffeine jolt right about now. A certain competitor from Seattle keeps opening outlets near its own. Yep, that curious Starbucks aroma is in the air in Japan. Right under the big screen at Shibuya station, in fact, you'll see the green-and-white logo and two floors jammed with java-juggin' Japanese.

Perhaps in response, Doutor has teamed up with major book chain Bunkyo-do to do the Borders/Barnes & Noble café-in-the-bookstore thing. The caf, to be called Excelsior, will occupy about 30 percent of a bookstore's floor space. And the logo will be green and white.

But while the purpose of a café-bookstore combo is to increase time customers spend in both, in Excelsior's case customers will not be allowed to take in books or magazines that haven't been paid for yet. (Many publications in Japan are shrink-wrapped, so you can't read them in the store anyway.) Another example of how ideas translate differently here.

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