Nekohara / Makaron* | © PIXTA

Bubble Tea Shop’s Kawaii Mood Ruined By Older Male “Staff,” Customer Gripes

It's not easy to run a kawaii business and make all customers happy in Japan, especially when you're trying to compete in the highly competitive field of bubble tea shops. That became clear after a series of Twitter exchanges between a customer, the producer and the owner of a shop which opened on May 29th.

But first, some background.

The third bubble tea boom in Japan

Since last year, Japan has been enjoying the so-called "third bubble tea boom" (the first and second occurring in 1992 and 2008, respectively). Stands and cafes selling bubble tea, or "tapioca" as they're called here, seem to be popping up everywhere and the chewy pearls have even showed up in beer.

Many of these shops, like Chatime, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, Saisabo, and The Alley Lujiaoxiang, are direct imports from Taiwan, but home-grown bubble tea shops like comma tea and Ochaba can also be found.


Among these homegrown hopefuls, Tapista, a new bubble tea chain which just opened in April, distinguishes itself by offering delicious bubble tea drinks inside a "cute and girly" interior based on a "French diner" theme, which looks "just like a scene from a movie." Featuring special homemade tapioca pearls cooked in brown sugar syrup which they claim have the longest cooking time in Japan and tea specially blended by a tea expert for their drinks, Tapista has already proven to be very successful. Beginning with their flagship store in Daikanyama, they soon opened stores in Shimotakaido and Ochanomizu, and on May 29th, a store in Tachikawa which seems to be have been given special consideration:

As you can see from these tweets from Tapista's producer, Asako Tsuji, the interior is quite special:

Opening day brought droves of fans to Tachikawa, with lines exceeding 100 people:

Trouble in Tachikawa

Nekohara | © PIXTA

But then, a little storm in a bubble tea pot began to brew after a Twitter user called Saki (@saki_msu) described what she had seen during her visit:

Makaron* | © PIXTA

Saki's tweet went viral, with 8,665 likes and over 10,000 retweets at the time of writing. The following day, a man identifying as Masaki Nakano 中野正幾 (@masaki_dz) replied as follows:

Looking back at Nakano's account, it seems he had noticed the commotion around Saki's tweets and had already voiced his concern the previous day:

In case it wasn't clear who Nakano was, Keita Makino, the CEO of Karasu Brand Studio which developed Tapista, also joined in:

Meanwhile, this little storm picked up strength as people took to Twitter, some claiming that the whole thing was a charade, others criticizing Saki for ageism and sexism against ojisan ("middle aged men"), with some comments devolving into sexism against women in general.

This finally prompted Asako Tsuji to post a lengthy official statement on June 4th aimed at quelling the storm. She summarized her points as follows:

Moreover, she also pointed out that men are also very welcome at Tapista:

Now can we all get back to drinking tasty bubble tea?

Tapista will be opening stores in Shibuya (late June), then Ikebukuro and their first store outside of Tokyo in Shizuoka later this summer. Meanwhile, although you probably won't see the president at the Tachikawa store when you visit, you'll hopefully enjoy their beautiful interior and their delicious bubble tea drinks.

By - Ben K.