Starbucks Is the Measurement of a City’s Value

I’m beginning to love 月曜から夜ふかし more and more. This variety show is unlike many others in that it gives no face to anyone or anything.

Yesterday’s episode revealed a really interesting trend in that Japanese people appear to value Starbucks a lot such that they use it as a deciding factor to the value of their own city.

I asked a Saitama and Chiba client on what the three largest cities in Japan are. Both said Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. When the television staff asked people in Fukuoka the same question, everyone answered Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka. It appears that they do not think much of Nagoya. Some didn’t even know it’s in Aichi. When the TV staff told them the third largest city in Japan is Nagoya and not Fukuoka, they were not convinced.

When people are not convinced, you throw out statistics. Nagoya has a population of around 2 million while Fukuoka only has 1.5 million. But no, the Fukuokans would not take that. “It’s not about population numbers,” they said. Nagoya’s GDP is around 11.8 trillion yen while Fukuoka’s is at around 6.8 trillion. “It’s not about GDP,” they said. Nagoya has 2000 high rise buildings while Fukuoka only has 1300. “It’s not about the number of high rise buildings,” they said. Nagoya has 40 Starbucks outlets while Fukuoka only has 25. “Oh my God, are you serious?” they said in surrender.

No wonder America thinks they are number one in the world.

Among the 47 prefectures in Japan, Tottori is the only one without a Starbucks outlet. That’s why their catchphrase is スタバはないけど、スナバはある (we don’t have Starbucks, but we have a sand dune). That’s what’s famous about the prefecture with the smallest population. Unfortunately, many of them also think that they have Japan’s largest sand dune, which is not true. Tottori’s sand dune is Japan’s largest sand dune for sightseeing, but the honor of being the largest sand dune belongs to 猿ヶ森 (Sarugamori) in Aomori. This sand dune is in fact about 30 times bigger than the one in Tottori, but as it is largely surrounded by the Ministry of Defense’s property, it is not open to the public. Sand dunes aside, there appears to be a rumor going around that Starbucks is planning to open an outlet in Tottori. It was such a big news that newspapers and radio networks in the prefecture were reporting about it and there was even a specific location reported to where it will be. The TV show called the Starbucks head office to seek confirmation and Starbucks officially said they have no clue where the rumor stemmed from and that there is no plan to open an outlet there.

When interviewed about the rumor, most Tottorians voiced their disappointment that Starbucks is opening there because not having Starbucks is one of their famous traits. In their words, スタバは要らない (we don’t want Starbucks). But when told that the rumor is false, these same people expressed shock and even greater disappointment by going 残念!What is it about Starbucks that’s so great? It really is overpriced coffee.


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