Matsuzakya Department Store, Ginza.

1940sArchitectureCommerceHistoric DistrictNotable Landmark
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Street view of the Matsuzakaya Ginza department store, c. 1925.

“The Matsuzakaya department store, the magnificent seven storied building in Ginza, Tokyo,” c. 1930.

See also:
Matsuzakaya (Ueno) department store, Ueno, c. 1907-1940

Aerial view of Ginza Crossing, c. 1940. The Wako (Hattori) clock tower is left of center; Matsuya department store is at top center; Matsuzakaya department store is at bottom center.

Aerial view of Ginza Crossing, c. 1940. The Wako (Hattori) clock tower is left of center; Matsuya department store is at top center; Matsuzakaya department store, with its rooftop garden, is at bottom center.

From the wiki: “With its opening in December 1924, Matsuzakaya Ginza became the first department store established in Ginza. (Matsuya would open their Ginza branch in 1927; Mitsukoshi in 1930; the original Hattori/Wako store, in business since 1890, sold primarily clocks and other timepieces until its reopening in 1932.) The building housing Matsuzakaya Ginza store was the tallest in the immediate area, with eight stories above ground and one below. There was even a zoo of large animals on the rooftop of the building until the start of World War II. The lion’s howl echoed throughout the district in the middle of the night, according to sources.

“Along with the flagship store in 1929, Matsuzakaya Ueno, the Ginza branch was the first department store to introduce female staff such as ‘elevator girls’ in Japan. In the early Showa Era (1926-1989), the rooftop also was home to okonomi shokudou [variety food restaurant], where customers could pick up tempura, sushi, tonkatsu [fried pork cutlets] and other foods. It was the first such eatery in a department store; special considerations were given so that even unaccompanied women could casually stop by for a bite.

“Most of the Ginza building was destroyed in an air raid. After the war, a club for Occupation troops called ‘Oasis of Ginza’ opened in the basement under the orders of General Headquarters (GHQ) in November 1945, supporting the store through a tough and painful period.

“The store has figured in scores of movies, including Romansu musume [Romance girls] in 1956. The three main actresses, including popular singer Hibari Misora, had part-time jobs there. Matsuzakaya Ginza store is also known as one of the buildings demolished in the original Gojira [Godzilla] movie, released in 1954, that introduced the iconic science fiction monster to the world.”

Matsuzakaya Ginza closed in 2014. The site is to be redeveloped into a commercial complex offering offices, retail tenants and an event hall sometime in 2016.

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  1. Pingback: Dai-ichi Sogo Building, Kyobashi, c. 1920. | Old Tokyo

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