Starbucks to open 1st sign language store in Japan

From June 27, order your coffee with simple sign language at the new Starbucks store in Kunitachi in western Tokyo

Japan has many beautifully-designed Starbucks stores, including its latest outpost in Tokyo, set in a greenhouse. On June 27, the capital will see the opening of its next unique store, where customers can communicate with staff in sign language. The new Nonowa Kunitachi store is the first outpost in Japan to implement sign language, and only the fifth sign-language store in the world run by the coffee giant.

According to The Japan Times, 19 of the store’s 25 employees are hearing impaired. If you’re not well versed in sign language, don’t worry – you can challenge yourself and try ordering your latte with the help of the simple sign language instructions on the wall. Writing down or just pointing at the drink of your choice would do just fine as well.

You will also find a digital screen at the pick-up counter, where the order number on your receipt, together with its counterpart in sign language, is on display. Keep that image in mind, as the staff will use sign language to indicate when your drink is ready to be picked up. The screen also teaches you other simple sign language, including greetings and thank you.

To curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the store will only provide its menu as takeout for now, and you’ll need to book to get in. Make an online reservation here (the link will be accessible from 9am on June 27), or grab a ticket directly at the store.

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