Friday, February 17, 2012

Story of Isetan


This is Shinjuku Isetan, one of the biggest department stores we have in Shinjuku. It was chosen as the most popular department store among working women last year in Tokyo. It's always crowded with shoppers, especially on the weekends!

Shinjuku Isetan was first built in 1933. Then in 1935, they bought out their neighboring department store and it was rebuilt the following year (photo below) and not much of the building has changed since then.

Right after the war, Shinjuku Isetan was actually occupied by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and used as one of its bases for about 8 years, possibly because Shinjuku was located between the General Headquarters near Tokyo Station and Yokota Army Base in Fussa (which is now Yokota Air Base). It reopened as a department store after the San Francisco Peace Treaty was officially signed by Japan and the Allied Powers in 1951.

I don't go in here often, but I like to sometimes just stop and admire the building and imagine all that it has seen.


Hope you all have a wonderful Friday!


Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.

21 comments:

  1. There is something special about the 1930s art-deco architectural style. The basement food floor was a favorite; as well as the art-exhibition space at the opposite corner. And the little coffee shop down there on the right.

    Thanks for the history. I never knew...

    I am always glad to see Shinjuku Isetan still in existence. (From what I heard briefly from a soon-to-be ex-employee it might not be the best place to work, however. What is?)

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  2. I've never been there, despite its fame. The crowds terrify me. I'd much rather observe from a distance, via your photos! :)

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  3. every time I go to tokyo I visit. But I never knew the history. Thank you!

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  4. Love the old image Kaori, it really hasn't changed a all since way back then! Huge department store, I probably would have to explore it if I was there.

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  5. There are a lot of memories there.

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  6. This store has quite a history!
    Are the big department stores becoming a thing of the past in Japan? They are in a precipitous decline here in the U.S.; they no longer hold the allure they once did.

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  7. I love finding out the history of places and it is so cool to compare the old photo with your new one.

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  8. That is an imposing building, and quite a history to it! Our department stores are tiny compared to that (but then so is the population of the state I live).

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  9. Great building.

    Regards and best wishes

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  10. It reminds me (although this is on a larger scale) of the Wilshire Bullocks in LA and the Marshall Fields in Chicago. Now I have to try to google the architect.

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  11. The construction and design of the building was done by Shimuzu Gumi—the predecessor of today’s Shimizu Corporation (the PDF takes a while to download. Check out pages 11-14.)

    There is a rooftop garden there with an actual lawn! A blogger has a couple photos here. Another photo here. Will wonders never cease?

    Wilshire Bullocks is also Art Deco in style, designed by the architects John and Donald Parkinson. It is from the same era having been completed in 1929 just 4 years before Isetan.

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  12. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your comments. I think this may be my first time posting now&then photos, which I always love seeing on all your blogs. May start doing more :D

    @Louis, yes department stores are having a hard time raking in the revenues like they used to. Many are closing down but some have been creative enough to actually increase sales :)

    @Karin, it may have been built around the same period. The art deco/modern gothic architecture is said to have become popular in the late 1920s here in Japan. Like TallGary wrote, the building was built by Shimizu-gumi, the design by their architecture sector which was headed by Kenichi Yagi. The one other building that is known to be designed by him is the Hakodate City Museum of Literature, but as it was a collaboration you can't quite say that they have the same taste. But it's interesting history for sure :D

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  13. I remember Isetan in Singapore. I don't shop a lot. I don't like window shopping,

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  14. Looks like a huge shop! Great shot.

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  15. Tokyo ikimasu! Aimasho! Please email me

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  16. That is quite a building. Thanks for the history lesson, Kaori!

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Thank you so much! Love it when you comment! xx