Apple Store Kyoto: Step inside the new retail space in Japan’s ancient capital

It’s taken a while but Apple’s modern tech has finally found a permanent marketplace in Japan’s ancient capital.

Saturday, August 25 was another brutally hot August day in Kyoto. But despite the stifling heat and humidity, several thousand people could still be found lining up along the city’s main shopping street, waiting patiently — if not a little sweatily — for the opening of Apple’s newest store.

The iPhone maker has eight other locations in Japan, but this is its first in Kyoto, a city the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs visited many times and was known to be fond of.

Apple Store openings are renowned for the employees’ excited efforts to whip up the crowds into a frenzy, though the somewhat reserved nature of Japanese folks meant it was always going to be a tall order for this particular store debut.

Still, the blue-shirted workers gave it their all, running a lap of honor around the outside of the store just a few minutes before the official opening. No one seemed too sure why they did it, but a few high fives as they jogged by suggested it was simply a warm-up exercise for the grand opening that was about to come.

Right on cue, at 10 a.m., the doors to the new Apple Store swung open, the staff cheering with such gusto that their faces were in danger of turning the same color as their shirts.

First inside were five young friends (pictured in the slideshow) who first met waiting in line for the Shinjuku Apple Store opening earlier this year. They were fourth in line then. For Kyoto’s Apple Store they arrived at 5 p.m. Friday, sleeping by the door in a wait lasting 17 hours.

Layout

The new Kyoto Apple Store is located just across from Louis Vuitton on the city’s main shopping street. The first of its two floors features ceiling-to-floor glass panels — familiar to many Apple Stores around the world — and a large video display at the back for Today at Apple sessions on photography, music, coding, and more. These are free and will be held on a daily basis.

Some smaller features worth noting. The design of the handrail (see slideshow) on the staircase to the upper floor is identical to the one found in the Steve Jobs Theater, built as part of the recently opened Apple Park, the company’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California. The staircase even uses the same marble as the one at the theater, all of it sourced from the same location in Italy, an employee told Digital Trends.

The overall architecture for Apple’s new Kyoto store took inspiration from local design and materials, with an upper level featuring a translucent envelope inspired by Japanese lanterns. “The use of lightweight timber frame and special paper on the upper facade also draw reference to the country’s traditional houses,” the company said.

The indefatigable staff continued to high-five visitors beyond mid-day, showing true dedication to the cause, while inside visitors played with the Apple tech laid out on the tables. Some visitors were keen to get their free Apple-branded T-shirt, but by lunchtime supplies had run dry.

Apple opened its first store in 2001 and now has more than 500 outlets in 24 countries.

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