Celebrating its 346th anniversary this year, Mitsukoshi department store is a giant in its field. While the Ginza and Shinjuku branches have become a must-visit if you’re going on a luxury shopping spree in Tokyo, the original store located in historically rich Nihombashi slips through the cracks. This results in many missing out on the beautiful architecture and services the flagship store has to offer.
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi’s exterior echoes the buildings of 18th-century Europe and features decorative moldings above every entrance as well as a generous dose of marble from floor to ceiling. Considering its long history, which dates back to the 17th century, and its many innovative offerings that helped to define the department store as one of the best in the country, it’s no surprise the Nihombashi location was designated an Important Cultural Property in 2016 and won the title of the Hallmark of Japan.
Besides its vast selection of luxury brands, the store also houses some of Japan’s most recognized kimono artisans as well as several big players in contemporary fashion. On the first floor, you’ll have the pleasure of shopping amidst the astonishing work of renowned architect Kengo Kuma. Replacing what was previously a dark, Victorian-like interior, Kuma opted for an all-white color palette, coating pillars and ceiling in a crisp modern shade. This fresh design, which signed off the store’s renewal in 2018, is bright and uplifting, like walking right up to shopping heaven.
In the main hall lies the reception, where the original building’s natural beauty joins the new in a surprisingly cohesive way, creating a warm cocoon. Look up to see the original structure and, as you climb the sumptuous stairs, take time to notice the swirls and details of the breathtaking statue representing the celestial goddess Magokoro.
A Welcoming Personal Shopping Service
With some 90 employees on the clock, Nihombashi Mitsukoshi has built a solid reputation when it comes to customer service. This includes their personal shopping service. In Japan, personal shopping still tends to be thought of as something that’s unattainable for most – a service so exclusive that only the one percent can benefit from it. However, at its Nihombashi location, Mitsukoshi has worked hard to create a welcoming personal shopping experience available to all, whether you’ve lived in Japan for decades or landed at Narita Airport the night before.
Whether you’re looking for a luxurious present for a loved one or a little indulgence for yourself, Mitsukoshi’s personal shopping service staff will help you navigate the floors, stores, brands and products to find what you’re looking for and more. Once you’ve informed the staff of what you’re looking to purchase, let them guide you to one of the store’s experts. Armed with knowledge of the entire inventory, as well as where each product comes from and how it’s made, these experts are at your service to ensure you get the very best experience – and the most bang for your buck. And don’t worry if your Japanese isn’t up to scratch as Nihombashi Mitsukoshi has interpreters on hand to accompany you every step of the way, whether you speak English or Chinese.
Suit up for the Occasion
If you’ve ever felt that the men’s section at your local mall is a touch underwhelming, you’ll be pleased to find a variety of options at this Mitsukoshi location – particularly if you’re a fan of suits. Customers can consult with a true suit connoisseur to help put together and tailor the perfect ensemble. With fully customizable service, entrepreneurs and businessmen can create a unique and perfectly coordinated outfit. And if you’d like, you can even book the VIP room for a royally comfortable fitting experience. Mitsukoshi’s experts consider everything from style, budget and personality to make sure every customer is completely satisfied with their purchase, whether they are going for imported luxurious fabrics from Europe or high-end material from Japanese mills.
The Art of the Timepiece
Head to the sixth floor for more works of art, first in the form of an actual art gallery where the exhibitions change on a weekly basis, and second in the store’s curated selection of timepieces. With a grand mix of casual and luxury brands and models, including rare pieces, men or women looking to pick up a new watch will be hard-pressed to make a decision on which one is their favorite.
The design of this dedicated watch section is meant to encourage watch lovers to mingle and chat while shopping. At the center, you’ll find a display that resembles a bar, with a glass window to display the rare models. Here, you’ll be introduced to Mitsukoshi’s selection of products by independent makers available at the Nihombashi branch. Though they do offer several casual options, Mitsukoshi’s specialty is their luxury watch selection showcasing complex mechanisms and craftsmanship.
Explore all of these delights and more with the store’s different types of personal shopping packages. These services are free and available to all. While customers can simply inquire at the reception upon arrival, it is recommended that you reserve online or call to make an appointment.
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Photographs by Allan Abani