The weekend has been rainier than most and unusually quiet here in Tokyo. I have been meaning to check out the new Hankyu department store in Yurakucho for some time but never had an hour to spare until yesterday. The store is paired with another huge department store for ladies, but the Hankyu Men’s is by far the more quiet one. Below the first store there is the first Monocle Cafe in Tokyo, Monocle originally being a magazine that reads like a catalog for stuff. Still, they know how to design a nice modern cafe and the unusual gin and tonic with yuzu jam was well worth the time and money. I don’t think there was much gin in it though. The cafe was surprisingly crowded and as fits the the most modern emporium of men’s fashion in Tokyo, most customers were about five times as stylish as me. I set my camera and snapped a few shots while leafing through the magazines and conveniently enough I found an article about the very same cafe that I was sitting in. The espresso was average, the tonic and yuzu was excellent. A new favorite, even!
Japan is the home of the giant department stores, and one of them is the Hankyu chain of department stores. Of all the major chains Hankyu is the one with the strongest presence in Western Japan, and the main store is in Osaka’s famous Umeda district. The new store in Ginza, just next to Yurakucho is called “Hankyu Men’s Tokyo” with a slogan that translates to something like “For the men on the world’s stage”. I haven’t been inside yet but someday maybe. Most major department stores have dedicated buildings to the men’s collections, the Isetan Men’s in Shinjuku being quite famous. In mixed stores the men’s floors are usually near the top. From the bottom, the layout is mostly: food basement, ground floor (make up or fashion, small items etc.), a few floor of ladies fashion, men’s floors, restaurants and cafes. Most Japanese women are quite particular as to their favorite department store chains!
Personally I am not sure if our cities (and this holds true whether you’re in NY, Leeds, Tokyo or Moscow) actually need more space dedicated to consumerism. It seems to me, that globally, the consumer culture that shaped and gave meaning to our city centers is changing. Book stores were the first to disappear, and I wonder just how sustainably, both economically and culturally this consumer culture really is? Perhaps this old department store building could have been better used as a space for makers, artists, students and families?