The Coffee Shops of Japan
With Japan rated as the third largest coffee consumer in the world, it comes as no surprise that coffee shops (kissatens) abound, with Tokyo alone home to over ten thousand. Shops come in all sizes and styles, but the smaller versions usually include only a counter and a few tables that are often sole proprietorships run by a husband and wife team who are helped by a part time waitress. These establishments also often double as a small restaurant which offer sandwiches or a light meal during lunchtime. For breakfast a “morning set” is often available which usually consists of juice, coffee, eggs and toast. These mom and pop businesses are gradually being replaced by the bigger chain shops such as Detour, Tully’s, and Starbucks, which offer over the counter coffee, more spacious seating arrangements, and in the case of Starbucks a no smoking environment. This has proven to be a big selling point in a nation that currently has very few restrictions in regard to smoking in public restaurants and bars.
Others have striven to develop a unique theme to distinguish themselves from the competition. Music coffee shops for example featuring jazz, classical, or rock, have always been a favorite hangout for the younger crowd since their inception in the early 1960’s. Less mainstream but proving to be quite popular are the manga (comic book) coffee shops that have sprung up in recent years in Tokyo Pax Era Pods . Coffee is served gratuitously, and the customer pays only for the duration of time spent reading the thousands of manga provided on library type shelves lining the room. On a similar theme, “Maid Kissa” coffee shops feature beautiful young waitresses donned in maid costumes that resemble characters from famous Japanese comics. As the customer enters the premise he or she is greeted by an alluring “welcome home my master”. In addition to the verbal role play offered, maids pour coffee and tea for patrons, or engage in a game of cards upon request. Many of these coffee shops are decorated in the style of an English Mansion to simulate feelings of truly being “master of the house”. Some shops are subtly veering from the coffee shop image by referring to their place of business as cafes, often reflecting the owners personal taste in interior design and music, and emphasizing a European atmosphere where home style food and a great cup of coffee can still be enjoyed.
Despite the various themes employed by owners to attract customers, the main feature of the menu is still coffee. For purists looking for an exotic blend or a special roasting method, a growing number of shops are now offering patrons fresh ground coffee using in house percolating techniques they hope will lure customers away from the instant coffee shop franchises that have come to dominate the market in recent years. Whether you’re searching for a temporary sanctuary from the clamor of the city, or a quick pick me up first thing in the morning, coffee shops in Japan have something for everyone.
It is not unusual for a corporation to give gifts to employees during the holiday seasons. Many web sites and catalogs are devoted entirely to corporate gift ideas. Giving presents to employees during the holiday season is a great opportunity to reward hard workers for the services they have provided year round. In addition to rewarding hard working employees giving presents can also have a positive impact on a company’s reputation. When an employee receives a gift from their employer they will often tell friends and family members about the gift letting people know how generous the corporation is.
Before a corporation or small business begins looking for holiday gifts it is important the company takes time to sit down and determine a set budget. This will help avoid over spending that could negatively impact the company at a later date. When setting a budget those in decision making positions might want to look at catalogs when making their choice. This will help provide a visual idea of what sort of gifts can be purchased with the amount of money being allocated for purchasing gifts. Once the budget it is defined it is important to choose gifts that are appropriate and will be enjoyed by all employees.
While some companies give all employees the same gift many companies give different gifts depending upon the employee’s length of service with the company. New employees might get a paper weight or small stuffed bear with the company’s logo or slogan clearly visible. Longer employees might receive gift cards or gift certificates to local coffee shops, bookstores, or movie theaters. These are all great ideas but they are common and may not be useful to some employees. A paper weight and stuffed animal are hardly memorable gifts and gift cards can sometimes not be used if the employee has a busy family life that prevents them from going out often.
One great gift idea that is perfect for all employees is a gift basket. Most people enjoy gift baskets and gourmet gift baskets are enjoyed by anyone who appreciates fine foods. Smoked salmon gift baskets are becoming more popular with each gift giving season. Considered a delicacy in most countries smoked salmon is seen as an expensive treat. Giving employees smoked salmon gift baskets will be seen as extremely thoughtful and generous.
Giving smoked salmon gift baskets does not have to break the budget that has already been predetermined. Baskets of varying sizes can be given to employees based on the length of time they have been with the company. If all of the baskets are of similar sizes the products they contain can vary depending upon the employee’s length of time with the company. A long time employee can receive a basket filled with salmon caviar, gourmet crackers, and smoked salmon fillets. Newer employees might be treated to gift baskets with smoked salmon jerky or smoked salmon spreads. Regardless of what the baskets contain the employees will appreciate the elegant gift that is sure to be much better than what they expected to receive.