Everybody can feel the globalization around the globe. Many people associated the term globalization with Americanization, which is the influence of the American culture around the planet. Even in a society like the Japanese society where people tend to be conservative and close to their roots, McDonald and other Americans franchises are now a part of the landscape. However, I was wondering if a Starbucks in America can be similar as a Starbucks in Japan, and decided to compare the two of them. Who is going to trend his green tea for a café latte? What kind of person can I meet at 3:30 pm sitting at a Starbucks in Tokyo? Well, let’s find out...
Day 1 : Observation, tuesday 3:05 pm
I am now at the Starbucks located near the Shirokane Takanawa station, in Shirokane plaza kai. The majority of customers inside the Starbucks are women. The women are usually in group and accompanied of their babies. Almost all of them will have a piece of cake or a cookie with their beverages. The female customer tend also more than the man to drink tea or “fancy” coffee. I can hear and understand some part of their conversations, talking principally about their child and families. All women that came in by themselves will have a book or a magazine to read.
The male customer is really different of the female customer. Men also come usually by group, but in contradiction of the women who wear casual clothes; men will wear the same business suit from one individual to the other. I cannot really understand their conversations but, sheets of paper often in front of them let me presume that they are talking about some kind of business. Men also spend less time than women at the coffee shop. Women will talk for hours in front of their empty mug wile men will not take the time to empty their cup of coffee.
4:15 pm. Ah! Something happened in the Starbucks. Woman slowly leaving the place and some high school student in their uniforms came to take their places. There are also more foreigners in the café, in majority students from Temple University. If I know this information it is only because I can recognize their faces. Two or three tables are occupied by one foreigner and one Japanese woman. By their conversations, I can clearly deduce that it is a private English lesson.
Day 2 : I have to take some pictures. God ! It's embarrassing !
I arrived at the Starbucks around the same time that I did the day before because I wanted to have some kind of confirmation about the idea that I had. While trying to figure how to take a photo with out flash, I could observe the exact same situation that occurred 24 hours earlier. In the middle of the after noon, the café was packed with house wives, who will slowly going back home by the end of the after noon and leave their places to young students and couples.
Day 3 : The interaction
I obviously did not want to interview the group of men in their business suits and disturbing their work. I could well anticipate the type of reactions they would give me, and considering the fact that I want to go back to this Starbucks in the future… So I choose to ask instead some questions to elderly women present at that time in the café. I found this wonderful woman that seemed actually quite pleased to answer my questions. I asked her only two questions. The first one was: Hi, do you mind if I ask you a question? And the second one was: why do you like to come here? She than explained to me that she recently (two years already) took the habit to come to Starbucks about three times a week. She said she usually meets her friend here because she does not like to be here by herself. She also said that the main reason why she was coming here is because she is tired to be in her house. She spent 23 years there and now it is time to go out. She than after asked me where I was from and realize that she has been in Canada about 7 times. That was the end, not of the conversation, but the end of the conversation about Japan and Starbucks.
In conclusion, I was surprise how so many cliché about the Japanese society was present in this Starbucks. After my observation, I can clearly identify the two major differences between a Starbucks in Japan in comparison with a Starbucks in America. First, the diversity of the costumers is much more obvious in America. Second, a large coffee size in Japan is so small comparing with the American size.