The influx of tourism into Kyoto has exploded. Despite creating a fair few problems, it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down any time soon, and it’s brought with it plenty of companies wanting to cash in on that sweet tourist yen.
Among them are well known American chains, but one cannot help feeling that it would somewhat ruin the ambiance if a Starbucks is suddenly planted in the middle of Kyoto’s historical enclaves.
Enter the innovative trend of using Kyoto’s existing townscape to surreptitiously open branches of a modern chain stores that won’t stand out like a sore thumb.
Starbucks have become the masters of this move, even opening a cafe complete with Japanese style tatami flooring in a century-old Kyoto house.
The next chain to try their hand at some chameleon work in a traditional setting is the famous Hard Rock Cafe who are opening a branch in Kyoto’s historical entertainment district, Gion.
The area is known for the rows of ‘kyomachiya’. These wooden townhouses were common in Kyoto before the 1950s, and there’s still plenty standing in the town’s preserved historical districts. The exterior of this new Hard Rock Cafe has been modelled on Kyoto’s machiya so as not to disturb the traditional Japanese vibes of the area.
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