This is a long overdue post about the famous Starbucks on Kanetsuki Street in the old warehouse district of Kawagoe. The branch opened in March 2018 and most of the photos in this post are actually from back then! But it hasn’t changed much in the two years since it has opened. Except that it is much harder to get a good photo now because its often crowded!
Starbucks Kanetsuki Street
Kane means “bell”, Kanetsuki means “with bell”. The Starbucks on the street with the bell! The bell tower in Kawagoe is a symbol of the city. And the Starbucks is only a few doors down from the famous landmark. The branch was designed to match the Edo period architecture the tourist area of the city is famed for. And many people judge its beauty on the exterior alone. But it is more than that. It is the whole package – the eclectic mix of new and old, of light and dark, of stone and wood. Combined with the aesthetics of the interior, the zen garden, the outdoor alley, and the tale of the repurposed materials to me makes it the most beautiful Starbucks in the world.
From Edo to Reiwa, and periods in between, such as…
These pictures are framed with fusuma from the Taisho period. (Fusuma are a type of sliding door used in traditional Japanese homes).
The back rest on the cushions were made from Kawagoe Tozan or Kawatou – the Kawagoe-made fabric that was in high demand until around 1900. The background of Tozan is pretty fascinating actually. Briefly: the name is said to be derived from the port of St Thomas on the eastern coast of India! Cotton fabric was imported from there from around the 1500s during the Muromachi period. Tozan – tou for the sound of Thomas and zan as in to be made – came to mean fabric imported from abroad! Ametou meant cotton from America. And Kawatou came to be fabric made in Kawagoe. Kawatou materials were originally imported from England.
The base of the counter was designed to look like the walls of the old warehouses.
Even on a rainy day the garden terrace is beautiful.
It is one of the few branches that you can regularly see Kimono clad customers.
And in April / May the street across the road has traditional carp streamers, koinobori.
The world’s most beautiful Starbucks
Starbucks Kanetsuki Street is my personal favorite branch of Starbucks, but it rarely makes the “lists”. There are others in Japan that are famed for being equally (some would say more) beautiful than Kanetsuki. The one in Kyoto is often mentioned. And there is an store-design award winning Starbucks in Toyama Prefecture that has been given the coveted title of the world’s most beautiful Starbucks. The Kyoto one I get, the Toyama one just doesn’t do it for me! I feel strongly that the Starbucks on the street with a bell deserves a position in the top ten most beautiful Starbucks at least. What do you think?
Starbucks Kanetsuki Information
|Address:||15-18 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0063|
|Hours:||8 am to 8 pm seven days a week|
The Kanetsuki Branch of Starbucks is a few doors up from the Bell Tower. As such, any tourist or Tobu bus going to the tourist district will bring you close enough. If you alight at the Ichibangai bus stop and cross the road at the nearest pediastrian crossing with traffic lights it brings you to the Kanetsuki street. The Starbucks is on the left hand side a few meters after the bell tower itself.
There is no parking at this branch and there is no free public parking nearby. But there are dozens of coin parking lots. I use Rakuda Plaza by Penny Candy Alley . Its only about a ten minute walk away. I find it one of the better value ones and it is picturesque too with its own old “kura” stone warehouse. There is actually a nearer Rakuda Plaza in Otemachi, about a three minute walk, but it only has a few spaces. The one by Penny Candy Alley has about three times as many.
Kawagoe features heavily on this blog! If you are looking for other things to do in Kawagoe, be sure to browse the dozens of ideas here: things to do in Kawagoe.