Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Starbucks in Ebisu

This morning at 7:30 the 246th Starbucks in Tokyo opened without any fanfare, in Yebisu Garden Place Tower.

Starbucks in Yebisu garden Place Tower , Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan. Opening day Jun 23 2009

It's only five minutes walk from the Starbucks at Ebisu station.

Starbucks coffee shop, Ebisu station, Tokyo, Japan.
The new outlet provides the usual selection of coffee, tea, chocolate and some bottled soft drinks. A display cabinet holds pastries and sandwiches. A short cafe latte costs 320 Yen. Unlike the convenience store next door and the Starbucks branch at the station, they do not accept Suica electronic pre paid cards which is not very helpful. Around the side is a small area with some armchairs and small tables.

The three cafes already providing coffee to take away are going to have a serious competitor right in the middle of the Yebisu Garden complex.

Least to fear is MacDonald's. A small cafe latte costs 210 Yen. The queues when this branch of the Golden Arches opened last year went round the block, but they weren't there for the coffee.

MacDonalds cafe in Yebisu Garden Place, Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan.

Excelsior Cafe has a branch in the building. It's a well known chain around Tokyo. It was created in 1999 by the Doutor coffee company to compete with Starbucks after the American chain first arrived in Japan in 1996. Excelsior serve a range of other beverages including beer. The large cafe with some outdoor seating is going to continue to attract people who like to sit down in a venue with more space and a bit more choice on the menu.

Excelsior cafe, Yebisu garden place, Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan.

Benugo's has to most to fear from the new arrival.

Benugo cafe, Yebisu, garden place, Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan

A small cafe latte here will set you back 330 Yen. However a 10% discount is available to people who work in the tower. They have a small indoor seating area and some tables outside. Their speciality is hot sandwiches something they started in 2003. Their eggs benugo is a firm favourite of mine. [The interesting article from the Japan Times describes Pret A Manager as their biggest competitor when they started but Pret a Manger pulled out of Japan in 2004 after their 50/50 partner Macdonalds withdrew from the project.]

Some other interesting research I found comparing Starbucks and Excelsoir in 2002, and a good personal summary of some of the the other chains in Japan from Japan-Zone. For me, I'll probably buy the coffee from Starbucks, but go to Benugo's to eat, I just hope they stay in business. What's your favorite coffee shop?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blogging for Perks and Pleasure

Yesterday's item in the Japan Times titled "Bloggers gain perks to pitch tourist spots" reminds me, in a round about way, of why I started this blog almost exactly three years ago.

At the time I was living and working in London, but my wife and I had had enough of living in the UK and were keen to go out to Asia. So, the plan was hatched that she would get a job teaching English in Seoul, I would have a year off from work and become a house husband, we'd spend a year there, then I'd get a job in Japan and we'd move across the Japan Sea. Which is exactly what we did.

When I first told friends and family we were moving to South Korea most people knew very little about the country and the people. I had been following a number of blogs at the time and had been casting around for a good subject for a blog. I realised that a blog on what life offers in Korea might make a good topic. My aim was not only to inform friends and family of our life in Korea, but also to provide detailed information for other expats and tourists coming to Korea.

I soon discovered a healthy Korean Blogosphere with a wide range of bloggers from those fresh off the plane excited to taste their first Kimchi to the seasoned long termers like Robert at the Marmot's Hole and Mike the Metropolitician.

I enjoyed blogging about the interesting and varied places and events we visited. From the peace and quiet of Samcheonggak to the fun of the Hi Seoul Festival
Other useful information I blogged about ranged from The Best Bread in Seoul , Discount Cards to the first day of the Arex Airport Railway.

Since we moved to Japan my blogging frequency and volume has been reduced but I still try to post two to three times a month on something topical. I've done my best to promote regional attractions. I provided a link direct to Shizuoka Tourism's site promoting the new airport that opened at the beginning of this month. I documented our summer trip to Hokkaido last summer.

This blog has always been a hobby and I never attempted to make any money by trying to commercialise it, I got as far as signing up for AdSense, but because the blog is still on the old format blogger template (long story) I have not bothered to incorporate the adverts. I have always been open to reviewing products or services in return for an honest write up, but have sadly never been offered anything.

Strangely the Japan Times does not include any links to the bloggers depicted. I spent a few minutes searching to see if I could find any of their sponsored blog posts but I couldn't find anything obvious. Instead, I found another blogger ( Kimonobox) also commenting on the same story and looking for the same thing! She's done a bit more research and come up with nothing either. She is waiting (I fear in vain) for a reply back from the Japan Times to her request for more details. My guess is they are blogging in Japanese which is why the Japan Times did not include any links.

So if the Wakkanai tourism association is interested I would be more than happy to accept a trip up to the northern tip of Hokkaido to see more of the spectacular scenery.

This was intended to be an entry for this month's Japan blogs Matsuri which is hosted by Billy at Tune-in-Tokyo on the subject of Living on a budget in Japan. But, I am not sure after all that rambling, it counts on the subject of how to save money? What are your thoughts on bloggers posting for perks and could you save money from it if you have a blog?