Japan’s first department store, Mitsukoshi, was established over one hundred years ago. Since then, a multitude of other one-stop shops have added themselves to the country’s cityscapes, whether they be for menswear or womenswear. Some, like Sogo and Isetan, became so well known and successful that they were able to establish branches in overseas markets. The following are eight of Tokyo‘s best department stores.
Isetan is a successful department store chain and brand with their home base in Shinjuku. The store does well in places like Singapore and Malaysia, where Japanese-themed events are held to engage shoppers interested in the culture. In Tokyo’s Shinjuku, a cluster of connected Isetan department store buildings cater to men’s fashion, beauty products and more. Isetan appeals to both the local and international crowd while shoppers can find anything from kimono accessories and herbal teas to bridal gowns and children’s toys.
Along with Matsuya, Mitsukoshi is recognized as Japan’s oldest department store. It’s also one of the nation’s largest. Eight years ago, the company merged with Isetan to form Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings. The two chains remain distinct from one another, however, with Mitsukoshi being a little pricier and more upscale. The Chuo-ku location in Tokyo is one of their most notable. Mitsukoshi also operates stores in North America, Europe and Asia.
PARCO is a major department store chain with branches in most major Japanese cities. One of their main locations in Tokyo, Shibuya PARCO, is currently undergoing renovations and will be closed for the next four years. Fortunately, they operate other branches like PARCO P’Ikebukuro Annex in Ikebukuro. PARCO tries to support local talent by encouraging popup shops. They also use a unique business model that combines retail with real estate services.
Marui is a major department store chain with stores in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities. Their iconic logo looks like ‘0101’, and is read ‘Marui’ in Japanese. The 0 resembles the Japanese symbol pronounced ‘maru’, meaning zero or circle. Marui targets a young, stylish audience between the ages of 20-35. Marui used to operate an online webstore selling Japanese street fashions overseas but has since been closed down.
The Sogo and Seibu department stores are both subsidiaries of Seven & I Holdings Co., the same company that owns the ubiquitous Ito Yokado supermarkets and Seven-Eleven convenience stores. You’ll find Seibu at big thoroughfares like Shibuya Station, making it a convenient one-stop shop for the busy commuter.
Tokyu will be a familiar name to anyone who’s ever travelled in Tokyo. The company not only operates their Tokyo Department store branches, like their flagship shop at Shibuya Station, but the ubiquitous Tokyo Hands multi-level hobby store. Tokyu Department Store carries a lot of local streetwear brands that appeal to a wide audience.
Matsuya, along with Mitsukoshi, is the oldest department store retailer in Japan. They carry a wide range of upmarket and luxury brands for the discerning shopper. Their Tokyo flagship store is located in Ginza.
Hankyu has four main stores in Japan and two locations in Taiwan (Kaohsiung and Taipei). At Hankyu MEN’S TOKYO in Ginza, find luxury and street fashion for men from local designers as well as those from abroad. Their main shops in Osaka and Fukuoka carry women’s clothing as well. Hankyu might also go by the alternative name Hanshin, since the umbrella company is Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores, Inc.