All the way off

I have a little game I like to play every time I’m in Japan. Well, two little games. The first is called, “Try not to be an ugly American!” Partly out of respect for the country I’m visiting — no one likes disruptive outsiders disturbing the peace — but also because I know, down inside, it rankles everyone a little bit to see an foreign failing to conform to their preconceptions. The other game, though, makes for more interesting blogs. It is called, “How hard can Japan rip off Starbucks?”

At first, I thought Excelsior Caffe deserved the prize — same typeface, same use of a circular logo element, and if you look at the initial letters of each word you’ll see a hint of Starbucks green. Then last year I noticed another cafe in Shibuya (whose name I’ve forgotten) which was even more blatant — bold use of green, blatant typographic matching, even a circular badge with something resembling Starbucks’ mermaid. But today, I think we have the grand prize winner:

In fact, this is so Starbucks-esque I was almost certain it was actually just a sub-brand. But apparently not! This one’s gonna be tough to top, but I look forward to seeing who manages to pull it off when I return this October for TGS.

Or maybe it’s time for a new game altogether. Maybe I could try, “Man, is it depressing to visit Japan while the dollar is at a long-term low against the yen or what?”

11 thoughts on “All the way off

  1. On the flip side of the poor exchange rate, do you see more Japanese tourists in San Francisco nowadays, or are they scared away by the border guards?

  2. My favorite recent example of this is from Berlin rather than Japan: Balzac Coffee (not to be confused with Balzac’s Cafe in Toronto). The best logo I could find is here:

    Granted it’s in tan rather than green, but the overall graphic design is pretty familiar, only with the scooter thrown in for some European flair. The inside of the coffee shops were pretty familiar-looking too. Only with better coffee.

  3. I know the feeling about the dollar. I got billed for a hotel room in Canada with a 10% premium last November.

  4. “The Mountain of Seattle” really finishes it nicely. Especially considering it’s about as close to Seattle as Kurt Cobain was. Well, in the beginning, anyway.

  5. Yeah, try living in Europe for six months, and paying rent in Euros while getting paid strictly in American dollars. That’s a fun game, too. And by “fun game” I mean “OMG I’m broke.”

  6. I pulled a good chunk of cash out just before the dollar sunk past the 100 yen mark. Now, looking at my Vista sidebar, I see that the yen is 97.3 to the dollar…. shit. Oh well; I guess when I’m finally forced to return to the states and get some sort of job, before heading back to college, my parents are going to wonder why their adult son is occupying their couch.

    I think I saw that cafe in Shibuya; I remember seeing something that reminded me of Starbucks, but didn’t actually have the same, soul-stealing vibe. Though, the prices were at least as bad.

  7. Ack! I accidentally deleted the first comment while trying to tab between windows. GOMEN NEEEEEEEE

  8. Wow.

    Even in ’01, the amount of Seattle fetishism was kind of amazing, but this one gets huge bonus points for trying to include some local color. Mt. Rainier, yay! Although if the mountain’s anyone’s, it’s Tacoma’s, since they’re the ones who went ahead and named themselves after the thing.

Comments are closed.