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Listed under Shopping in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Photo of Mitsukoshi
  • Photo of Mitsukoshi
Photo of Mitsukoshi
Photo by flickr user OiMax
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You wouldn’t know it from the modern fixes and fittings, the bright lights and shiny, warmly glowing surfaces but the Mitsukoshi department store was founded in the 17th century. If that doesn’t make it the oldest store in the world then who knows what is, but for its day it made the incredible leap of innovation of setting up on the spot rather than going door to door.

These days Mitsukoshi is only one of many, decorated with carefully alluring taste and selling mostly luxury brands, but it’s the oldest so like Harrods in London it’s a bit of an institution. There isn’t only one Mitsukoshi though, there are several in Tokyo alone, but the flagship store is in Nihonbashi, which is the one I went to, and it’s famous enough to appear in most guide books. I’m not sure quite what they’re suggesting you take note of, the graceful customer service, balanced perfectly between following you around like a puppy dog and ignoring you completely or the richness of the bounty, but I was especially drawn to the food hall down stairs. Apparently wafting the smell of baking bread around induces a feeling of happiness or contentment, but in this case I’m sure it was nothing so clinical, just the smell of the bread in the bakery, to be cooled and laid out with the most colourful array of delicacies it has ever been my pleasure to see. I didn’t know what a lot of these treats were, I imagine more of them had some kind of bean product in them than didn’t, but I do know that there wasn’t much I would have turned down and the hardest thing was choosing what to walk away with.

Stationary is the other department which consistently calls me and I’m very pleased to be able to report that I wasn’t disappointed by the call and found papers and envelopes suited to the most perfect geisha and for a reasonable price.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

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