Sipping Success: The Art of Signage for Small Tea Businesses

Ah, the tale of the old signs 

The Wazuka rain may have been our ally in nurturing our tea crops, but when it came to our road signs, it left travellers squinting and scratching their heads.

It was a bittersweet realisation for us at Obubu – while these road signs had served us faithfully for so long, it was clear that their time had come to an end.  

And so, with heavy hearts but determined spirits, I set out to replace these weather-beaten relics with something that will capture the fun and inviting spirit of Obubu.

Follow the green brick road

As an intern at Obubu, I had the exciting opportunity to take on a special project: revamping our signage.

The job of a well crafted sign is not just about directing traffic or announcing your presence; it’s about telling your story, setting the mood, and inviting customers into your world of flavour and warmth.

Obubu isn’t just your average tea company – we’re all about embracing the joy and vibrancy of tea culture, and our signage should reflect that. That’s why I was thrilled to infuse our signs with bright hues and playful imagery. The light and dark greens of Obubu’s brand pop against the crisp white paint don’t only serve an aesthetic purpose – it’s also about functionality.

Sure, it may not be as flashy as a neon sign, but it serves a crucial role in guiding customers to our door. 

The 茶 marks the spot

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous at first. As someone who had never wielded a paintbrush with confidence, the thought of creating several signs from scratch was equal parts thrilling and daunting.

I remember the first time I set out to paint on the second floor of the old Houjicha factory. Armed with little more than a blank  piece of wood and a handful of paintbrushes and a couple of hours of insider time.

As I began to sketch out the design and carefully paint each stroke, something magical happened. There’s just something incredibly freeing about unleashing your creativity and bringing your vision to life with a stroke of the brush.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. As I tackled the task of painting a large tea kanji onto a couple of our road signs, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of anxiety. Here I was, a novice in the world of Japanese calligraphy, tasked with creating a symbol that would be seen by thousands of drivers each day.

But with a deep breath and a steady hand, I embraced the challenge. And seeing the finished signs glisten in the sunlight, I realised that sometimes, the most rewarding experiences come from stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing the unknown.

Hiro-san wisely decided to add a second road sign for the back road, in case you missed it!

Like many times before, once I started painting I couldn’t stop! 

That’s why I also created a new blackboard for our shop. I decided to add a pop of neon green color so guests could locate the entrance to the beautiful shop and tea room from the road when approaching Obubu.

A very much needed Toilet sign, guiding us to relief when nature calls. It’s not just about finding a place to go—it’s about making sure everyone can easily find it, keep things clean, and make the most of their time without wandering aimlessly after drinking so much delicious tea.

When tourist buses and taxis roll into Obubu with eager guests, it’s like a mini invasion of excitement. Lastly, the new parking sign will ensure guests know exactly where to park, it’s a small touch that makes a big difference in their experience, setting the tone for a smooth and hassle-free visit.

Might these signs withstand the relentless rain and shine brightly in even the darkest of storms.

Cheers to new beginnings and clearer directions ahead! 

– Jen, Intern #166

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