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Opening a Scandinavian Style Coffee House in Tokyo

Starting a new business in Japan is fraught with challenges but fortunately Shinonome Group makes things easier.

By 4 min read

Amidst the hustle and bustle that is a part of life of any major financial center like Tokyo, sometimes we need a quiet place to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee. One young entrepreneur decided to follow through with combining his fascination of being broad with a little taste of home in the form of a Scandinavian style coffee house. He answers a few questions about his experiences

1. Could you tell us briefly about your background and why you decided to start a coffee shop in Japan?

My name is Peter (23) from the city of Kolding in Denmark. For me the dream of opening a coffee shop in Japan is not something which I first envisioned. It all started while I was backpacking around Africa and Asia for a year in 2013.

When I returned to my home in Denmark and started to think more about I wanted, the idea of running my own small shop, and to enjoy a more quite life rather than having a corporate career seemed very appealing to me. So in 2014 even though I was accepted to Copenhagen Business School, I declined.

The whole fascination of being abroad had manifested in me. So I came to Tokyo on a working holiday visa. Soon the dream of owning a small coffee shop came creeping back, and I saw the potential to do something interesting here in Japan and decided to give it a chance.

2. You are pretty young to be starting a business. Did your age present any challenges in launching the business?

Most people have maybe been curious about my young age to start business, especially starting my own business in a faraway foreign country. But I think for anyone starting a business regardless of age, there are many challenges. I felt I went into the project with confidence and patience.

3. What have been the major costs you have experienced thus far (and expect) to start up your business?

The major cost has definitely been to obtain a place since deposits and rent is at a premium in Tokyo. It’s not easy and it can be hard to find just the right place. I think its something that can discourage a lot of smaller business owners if they don’t have their financing just right because it does require a certain financial commitment from the start.

4. Have you found Japanese language to be an issue with the setup?  If so, based on your experience thus far, what would you recommend to others considering business start up in Japan?

I think that not being proficient with the language to some extent has been an issue, but surrounding myself with good people to help me in different aspects has definitely been important. I found it a great help to have the specialists at Shinonome Group help me with my incorporation and also with my visa application.

I think it is important to cope with the issues that might arise with professionals to get it done right, instead of wasting time by not filing the correct paperwork. From my experiences so far, I would recommend people to consider starting business here in Japan. But as with all business startups, I think people really need to consider carefully before they do it. Japan is definitely different to start business, but for me so far it has been a great experience, and there is a lot to learn from doing it.

5. How have you been able to locate the various professionals needed to start up your business?

I went and talked with various government organizations offering advice to people starting up. They were very helpful from the start to connect me with the right professionals, and I have been very fortunate that I met people with good references to help me along the way. Having a good network of friends has also been a great help.

I am looking forward to opening my cafe this September in Nakameguro. For anyone that is interested in finding out more they can visit my website.

About Shinonome Group

Company incorporation registrations in Japan are typically performed by a shihoshoshi, a type of licensed legal professional that specializes in corporate and real estate registration. The Tokyo-based shihoshoshi firm Shinonome Group has assisted Peter and many other non-Japanese companies and individuals with company incorporation and branch registration. First time free consultation with no obligations is available of course in English.