Department store interior, c. 1930. Echigoya, Japan’s oldest dry goods store, had dominated and had revolutionized the sale of dry goods during the Edo Era: Instead of vending door-to-door or accepting commissioned work, as was the 17th-century custom, founder Mitsui Takatoshi opened a storefront to draw-in customers paying fixed prices in cash for kimono, textiles and draperies. In 1904, Echigoya would change its legal name to Mitsukoshi.
Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku, c. 1935
Matsuzakaya Department Store, Ueno, c. 1907-1940
Mitsukoshi Department Store, c. 1903-1923
Shirokiya Department Store, c. 1910-1940
“In Japan the modern department store emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century as an end product of ‘civilization and enlightenment’ (bunmei kaika), a phrase coined in 1867 by Fukuzawa Yukichi.
“… In the goods that it sold, in the services and various forms of entertainment that it provided, and in the values that it projected, the department store reflected the new hybrid culture’s identification with appearances and material possessions, reaffirmed and spurred on that culture’s dedication to productivity and to catching up with the west, and personified the new modern intelligentsia’s aspirations for enrichment, self-fulfillment and gracious living during the Taisho democracy (1912-1926).”
– Asian Department Stores, by Kerrie L. MacPherson, 2013
Department stores, Tokyo, c. 1930. Clockwise, from top-left: Matsuzakaya (Ueno), Shirokiya (Nihonbashi), Isetan (Shinjuku), Takashimaya (Nihonbashi). At center is Mitsukoshi (Nihonbashi).
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