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Friday, July 13, 2012

Goodbye Mitsukoshi Shinjuku - Hello Bic Camera & Uniqlo

ビックカメラ・ユニクロ 新宿東口

Mitsukoshi Department Store on the east side of Shinjuku railway station was a grand old dame of Shinjuku, having opened in 1930 - before the War, even. It was housed in the Mitsukoshi Alcott Building, on one of the best pieces of Shinjuku real estate, but it is no more, and the Mitsukoshi Deparment Store vacated the site four months ago, never to return.

New Bic Camera and Uniqlo on East Side of Shinjuku Station, Tokyo.

Then the big news this month was the opening on July 5 2012 of a new store in its place: the Shinjuku East Exit branch of the electronics and home appliance retail giant, Bic Camera. Bic Camera also has a huge store on the west side of Shinjuku Station, giving it now as impressive a presence in Shinjuku as its biggest rival, Yodobashi Camera.

But Bic Camera is not the only retailer to cash in on Mitsukoshi Department Store's departure from Shinjuku. Japan's low-cost fashion giant, Uniqlo, also secured space there in April, giving it, like Bic Camera, a strong presence both east and west of Shinjuku  station.

Architecturally however, Shinjuku is worse off. The bland shiny white facade that now dominates a large chunk of Shinjuku-dori Avenue near the East Exit is a far cry from the characterful and elegant masonry it replaced. Particularly missed is the Tiffany's store that occupied the ground floor of Mitsukoshi Alcott. It was the epitome of classical complete with a statue on a plinth.

Modern white can be done beautifully, an example being the Ginza Matsuya Department Store, but Shinjuku has had to do with a quick draftsman fix for a quick new buck.

More about Shinjuku shopping

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