April 20, 2019
by Sakura Hatsuta, Genki Takeuchi & Shayne Gonzales
Kyoto opened a new Apple store in downtown Kyoto recently. There were already eight Apple Stores in Japan (Shnjuku, Ginza, Shibuya, Omotesando (Tokyo), Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka), but the ninth one in Kyoto is nothing like the others. It is very much inspired from the traditional culture of Kyoto inside and outside of the building. It is definitely one of the newest and hottest spots to visit, not only for people who live in Kyoto, but also tourists. In this article, we would like to introduce some information, highlights, and how to access the Kyoto Apple Store.
The Kyoto Apple Store is located in the Shijo Karasuma shopping district, on Shijo and Takakura Streets. Shijo Karasuma is well-known as one of the busiest places in Kyoto. There are many banks, offices and stores in that area, so it is always crowded with locals and tourists alike. The new store location matches well with the town square concept of an Apple Store: Make a store where people can easily gather in the center of the city.
The Kyoto Apple Store is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Monday through Sunday. Since Kyoto has many visitors from overseas, people who work at the store are also from various regions of the world, such as Europe and North America. They can communicate in 12 different languages.
The Apple Store opened on August 25th, 2018, and is currently the largest store in Kyoto. It has been 14 years since the last time Apple opened a large store in the Kansai area (the first store being Shinsaibashi, Osaka). Even before Apple opened their first store in Kyoto, it was receiving a lot of attention. There were advertisements on transportation and all sides of the walls in the subway stations.
On the opening day, there were more than 1,300 people lining up to get in. And those people who came to the store on the first day received a limited edition gift box. It included a t-shirt, sticker and pin. Those goods are all came with the same logo written as ‘Kyoto’ in Japanese characters, and its design was inspired by goban no me, a Japanese traditional boardgame used for gomoku (five in a row). It has 19×19 grid of lines. Interestingly, goban no me is often used when people explain the layout of Kyoto city. It is because when you look up Kyoto city on a map, it looks like goban no me. Therefore, the Apple store is not only making a creative new logo, but also they take into account the culture in which the store exists. But the logo on those products is not the only thing about the Apple Store that is inspired by Kyoto culture.
The Kyoto Apple Store’s modern architectural style is inspired by the design and materials unique to the ancient city of Kyoto. For example, the design of the second floor was inspired by traditional Japanese lanterns, so it is surrounded by lightly thin fittings, with a lighting-like design. Also, in the upper part of the facade, it imitates traditional Japanese wooden houses and shoji (It is Japanese sliding door that is made of wooden) and uses materials that make it reminiscent of wooden lattice and Japanese paper.
There is also an atrium at the colonnade located in the center of the building, which spans multiple floors in a building where a Japanese style and a state-of-the-art modern building blend together. The first floor part is made of full-sized glass, and it is a structure that can be understood from the inside as well as from the outside. Above the 2nd floor, when looking from the outside, it looks like a shoji, with lights inside that are lit at night. And behind the atrium there is a staircase leading up to the second floor. This staircase using artificial marble seems to reproduce the stairs of Apple’s headquarters in Steve Jobs Theater. In addition to this staircase on the second floor, you can also go up by elevator.
On the 3rd floor, which is only accessible by elevator, there are business negotiation rooms for corporations, such as start-up companies and educational institutions, along with board rooms. Interior decoration that reproduced the meeting room of Apple headquarters was utilized, so the sofa placed near the entrance is the same as the chair of Steve Jobs Theater of Apple headquarters.
It seems that the purpose of the building is to introduce the style and feeling of a town square while incorporating a Kyoto-like lattice design. It is more than just a store, but rather aims to achieve the purpose of gathering people together in the city’s plaza, aiming for a place where people can connect and develop their ideas and imagination.
The new Apple Store is located on the popular Shijo Street in Kyoto, so there are many ways to get there. If you are going there from Kyoto Station, you can ride the local city bus from the station to Karasumi Shijo where the store is located. Alternatively, you can take the subway to get there. It is only two stops from Kyoto Station. You can also go there by car, but we think it is hassle to do it because usually Kyoto doesn’t have any free parking areas, so you have to pay for parking spaces and it ends up being a bit expensive. We think using the local city bus is the best way to get to the Apple Store there because the fare is fixed and if you buy the one-day card, you can also get around Kyoto easily.
We think going to the new Apple Store is a good way to learn a bit about Kyoto’s culture, study how they imagined and made the designs, and why they chose the location. Is it because of the traditions that are surrounding Kyoto, or is it because there are lots of local and foreign tourists that are going there? It is definitely in a central, downtown location, so it is one of the busiest places in Kyoto. When you see it, will you think that the apple store is inspired by Kyoto’s culture? Why don’t you go there and find out for yourself. Explore what is inside the new Apple Store and discover the difference between the Apple Stores that you have already visited and this new Apple Store in traditional Kyoto.