Some of Japan’s Major Department Stores with Unique Characteristics
There are many department stores in Japan, each with their own unique traits. This time we’ve carefully selected 7 department stores to introduce their unique features.
Aiming to be the “World’s Best Fashion Museum," ISETAN is dedicated to providing “the best and most recent selection of goods” on a daily basis and is a department store staffed by buyers with great talent. With a strong emphasis on fashion, the goods available encompass a wide age range but their strong point is fashion aimed at young women. Among other things, the ISETAN Shinjuku store, which was listed as no. 1 in the 2015 nationwide best department store sales ranking, has gained strong support for its stylish assortment of goods. The prices are a little high but you know that you will find items that you won’t see anywhere else. The Shinjuku store has also established a men’s shop and with its incredibly large selection of goods, it’s recommended for men who have a policy for being fashionable. The building itself was constructed using traditional techniques in an art-deco style so it also has high historical value. The displays are always lovely so you can have fun just by window shopping.
Business hours: 10:30 am - 8:00 pm
Mitsukoshi has a history as Japan’s oldest department store since it was started in 1673 during the Edo period has a draper (kimono store). It's known for its popularity among people of a comparatively higher age range thanks to the many top-class stores that open there and the many high class goods that it deals in. The Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi main store is a prime example of a Mitsukoshi branch. The dignified Renaissance-style building was designated as a historical structure and on the first floor of the main building, there is a large Tennyo statue in the central hall atrium that is worth taking a look at. In the central hall, there are pipe organ performances and other events held almost every day so it’s also recommended for tourists. The store “Kayuan” on the first floor of the basement is a select shop that carries excellent sweets from all over Japan. They also have beautiful Japanese-style sweets so be sure to pay a visit.
Business hours: 10:30 am - 7:30 pm (Annex 9F/10F restaurants from 11:00 am - 10:00 pm).
Although the main branch of Takashimaya is located in Osaka, the Tokyo Nihonbashi store which was the first department store to be designated as an important cultural property. The Nihonbashi building was constructed in 1933 and it is one of the largest-scale buildings from that time so there are efforts made to preserve the impressive original interior and exterior. In addition, although the elevator within the store has been upgraded to the latest technology, the appearance has remained unchanged since the building was established and you are guided to each floor by an usher who operates it manually. It’s a must see for those who want to enjoy a retro Japanese atmosphere. We particularly recommend the Aji Hyakusen Meika Hyakusen on the first floor of the basement. They carry various gourmet foods from veteran shops all over Japan so if you’d like souvenirs with the many flavors of Japan, be sure to take a peek.
Business hours: 10:30 am - 7:30 pm (The restaurant area is from 11:00 am - 9:30 pm).
Daimaru opened as a draper (kimono store) in Osaka during the Edo period in 1717 and has continued as a department store today with 13 branches across the country. The main branch in Shinsaibashi consists of the main building, north building, and south building. The main building is currently being remodeled until 2019. The south building of the Shinsaibashi store has the country’s largest duty-free store Laox which has 6 floors and deals in overseas-compatible consumer electronics, cosmetics, medical supplies, apparel items and other high quality items made in Japan. There are staff members who speak a variety of foreign languages so if you want to shop for Japan-made products in Osaka, this is a department store that you will want to make use of.
Business hours: North building: 10:00 am - 8:30 pm/North building 13F restaurant floor: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm/South building 1 - 8F: 10:30 am - 9:00 pm.
*Since the business hours differ based on the shop and floor, please confirm the times via the official homepage.
*Photo is of the Daimaru Shinsaibashi North building
Boasting 2nd place in the 2015 best department store sales ranking, the Hankyu Umeda Main Store (popular nicknamed “Umehan”) has many high brand shops. It has an established reputation for carrying an array of fashion and cosmetic items and is often compared to Tokyo’s ISETAN Shinjuku Store for its high favor among people with good fashion sense as well as young women. It also has a men’s store, the same as ISETAN. In addition to fashion, there are a variety of other goods available in the stationery goods marché and the Hankyu sweet street. The shop interior is very clean and because there are wide passages for easy shopping with a stroller, it is a department store visited by many families.
Business hours: Shopping: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm (Fridays & Saturdays are 10:00 am - 9:00 pm)/12&13F restaurant area is 11:00 am - 10:00 pm.
The Matsuzakaya in Nagoya is recognized by many over other stores as a distinguished, high class department store with a long history that has many dedicated fans. Although there are 5 stores in the Tokai region (Aichi/Shizuoka), the store in Nagoya is the leading one in the area and consists of the main building, south building, and north building. It actually has the second largest sales floor area in Japan. It has an array of children’s goods, consumer electronics wholesalers and fashion items that the whole family can enjoy. The basement 1st and 2nd floors of the main building has a food department called Gochiso Paradise and the highlight of this place is the wide selection all under one roof such as popular local shops, seasonal gourmet items, prepared dishes, sweets, wine and more. You can also buy souvenirs. Another big feature is the availability of mobile payment services WeChat and QQ Wallet in the cosmetics department for visitors to Japan.
Business hours: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm/Restaurant area: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm.
*Closing hours differ based on the store.
Sogo, a department store which began in Osaka, currently has 9 branches nationwide. The Yokohama store is an ultra high-class department store in a category of its own which took about 59 billion JPY in funds for its opening and the sales figures from its first year holds the record as being the world’s best. It deals in a wide range of goods for ladies', men's, kid's and interior as well as having branches of general store LOFT, Kinokuniya book store, and MUJI Rushi. We recommend the Dining Park Yokohama”in the restaurant area of the 10th floor. There are lots of restaurants where you can gaze upon ocean and garden scenes while eating and you can also confirm seating arrangements via the official homepage. In addition, the food department on the basement 2nd floor has a selection of sweets, prepared dishes, alcohol and much more as well as eat-in shops where you can enjoy things like sushi and tempura from well-known shops for a low price. If you get hungry while in Yokohama, be sure to stop by for a visit.
Business hours: B2F - 8F 10:00 am - 8:00 pm/10F restaurants at Dining Park Yokohama: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm.
What did you think? Department stores have many unique features depending on where they are, so pick one that is in the area or find one that best suits your goals.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.