In Nihombashi, Tokyo I found the flagship store for Mitsukoshi, a chain of department stores in Japan. Here it is on the map. Mitsukoshi is the oldest still-operating department store company in the world. It was founded in 1673 with the shop name “Echigoya.” Ten years later, Echigoya took a new approach to marketing. Instead of selling by going door-to-door, they set up a store where buyers could purchase goods. They must have known what they were doing because their flagship store is simply amazing.
Mitsukoshi is an upscale department store with high prices so I’ve never shopped there but that didn’t stop me from visiting in May 2006. The store is very elegant with a large number of art pieces on display. The twin lions outside their front door are modeled on the lions of London’s Trafalgar Square. The immense statue inside, if I remember correctly, is Amaterasu the sun goddess of Shinto mythology when she emerged from hiding in a cave. The photos don’t do the statue justice. It has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The main foyer where the Amaterasu statue is displayed is a work of art itself. Behind the Amaterasu statue visitors can see a vintage pipe organ on display.
The store is quite large and not only features a dizzying array of things for sale but also contains small art galleries on different floors. I really enjoyed the crystal display they had on the day I visited. Many exquisite crystal dishes, vases, etc. were being shown in a gallery near the top floor.
The majority of the patrons of Mitsukoshi are older, well-to-do people. It was a fun experience walking the hallways of the various departments seeing so many well-dressed Japanese people. Visiting Mitukoshi’s flagship store in Nihombashi is a truly upscale experience and I can’t recommend it enough. Who knew a department store could be so much fun?