Matsuzakaya Ginza Department Store to close after 89 years

The Matsuzakaya Ginza Department Store will close its doors on June 30 as the site it occupies is going to be redeveloped.

The department store opened in Ginza the year following the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, and is the oldest department store in the famed shopping district. At the height of Japan’s bubble in 1990, annual sales reached 54 billion Yen. However, revenues began to drop due to growing competition from other department stores, including Mitsukoshi, Matsuya and Printemps Ginza, and an influx of fast fashion retailers.  By 2013, sales were down to 10.2 billion Yen. 

While the current department store has a retail floor space of just 25,000 sqm (247,000 sqft), the new 13 storey building will have a gross floor space of approximately 150,000 sqm. It will contain a rooftop garden, an event hall and office and retail tenants. The owner of Matsuzakaya, J Front Retailing, said they have not decided whether the department store will re-open in the new building and it is unclear whether Matsuzakaya will return to Ginza in the future.

When complete in 2016, the new project will be the largest mixed-use development in Ginza. The Matsuzakaya site forms part of the Ginza 6 Chome District 10 Urban Redevelopment Project being carried out by Mori Building, L Real Estate and Sumitomo Corporation.

A little history on the Matsuzakaya Ginza Department Store:

  • It was built in 1924 as the Kokko Life Insurance Building but was leased by Matsuzakaya for 190,000 Yen per year. The 6-storey building had a total floor area of 6,600 sqm. In those days it was the tallest building in Ginza and offered views over Tokyo Bay from the rooftop.
  • In 1924 it was the first department store in Tokyo to allow shoppers to wear shoes, as opposed to slippers, in the store. In the past, shoppers would leave shoes with a shoe clerk while shopping in department stores.
  • A zoo with lions and leopards was opened on the rooftop in 1925.
  • In 1925 they started running buses between the store and Tokyo, Shinbashi and Yurakucho Stations. They carried up to 8,000 shoppers daily. The nearby Ginza Station wasn’t opened until 1934.
  • The Matsuzakaya Ueno and Ginza stores were the first in Japan to introduce ‘Elevator Girls’ in 1929.
  • The upper floors of the building were destroyed during the air raids in WWII. With the exception of the ground floor, the building was rebuilt in 1952. It was then remodelled and extended in 1964.
The original c1924 building (left) and the reconstructed building in 1960 (right)

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2013.