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Tottori Starbucks opening draws 1,000 people

Kyodo

About 1,000 people lined up Saturday for the opening of the first Starbucks outlet in Tottori Prefecture.

Japan’s least populated prefecture was the last in which the coffee chain lacked a presence.

The outlet, near a train station in the city of Tottori, the prefectural capital, started forming lines from around noon Friday. About 150 people had gathered by midnight to camp out for the opening.

College student Atsushi Miyagawa, 19, was first in line. “It tastes good. It’s unlike any other coffee I know,” he said.

An established coffee shop nearby, named Sunaba Coffee, gave away free mugs and offered a full refund to any customer who thought that Starbucks coffee tasted better.

Sunaba Coffee was launched in April last year partly to mock Starbucks and partly to promote Tottori’s famous sand dunes. The Japanese word for sand is suna.

The nation’s first Starbucks opened in Tokyo’s Ginza district in 1996. Although Starbucks has become a major player in Japan’s coffee market, major convenience store chains recently jumped into the fray by offering improved coffee products.