The next best thing to a weekend getaway is heading to a neighborhood shopping center, and Makuhari New City in Chiba has got the latest and greatest for you. Celebrating its 1-year Anniversary since opening last December, AEON Mall at Makuhari New City is Chiba City’s first large scale mall. With four distinct shopping areas and a monthly events schedule packed with exciting performances, AEON Mall is a fantastic place for shopping, entertainment, and everything in between for foreigners and citizens alike.
AEON Mall Makuhari New City is comprised of four “lifestyle” malls: Active Mall, Pet Mall, Grand Mall, and Family Mall. The idea behind this was to develop a center as a focal point in the community and to enhance daily lives by making vibrant ideas come to fruition. During my visit, I realized it was a “One stop shop!” At various stages throughout the mall, visitors can attend to things like free concerts, comedy performances, holiday illuminations, acrobatics, sports conditioning lectures, and mochi pounding. A monthly schedule is accessible online, so you can plan ahead.
Active Mall is comprised of three floors specializing in sports and home electronics. Not only can you purchase items for these activities, you can experience them. Rock climbing studio, running station, 3-on-3 basketball court, tennis court, and cycling areas are available with some shops staying open through midnight. Sports Authority and Nojima are the two major stores in this section of the mall. But, you can also find specialty shops like North Face, Columbia, Nike, Reebok, and Local Motion.
Pet Mall is a pretty amazing section of the mall dedicated to our furry friends. Pet owners can either bring their dogs leashed, in strollers, or in bag carriers. Pecos is the major pet store here that provides supplies, fashion, grooming, training, and a medical center. Sometimes there's a need to rehabilitate injured pets using water therapy, so Pecos offers an open window and large screen so curious onlookers can observe. The popular photo studio, Alice Studio, even offers pet portraits on the first floor. After all that fun, you and your furry friend can grab a bite to eat at the Doutor dog café.
Family Mall offers a lineup of goods and experiences for all ages. On all three floors of this section, comfortable family style restrooms were created so nursing mothers could feel relaxed and parents with small children could refresh. On the third floor, children can play on the rooftop park called Sky Park. This area has a fountain show that plays every 30 minutes, and a beach where they can enjoy playing in the water, weather permitting. All things “kawaii” can be found here like Barbie fashion at Jill Stuart New York, Café R with a sit-in cushioned area for eating, and Anpanman toys. Toys R Us and Babies R Us can be easily accessed from 1F, while Namco Action Museum can be accessed from 3F.
Grand Mall is the last and largest of the “lifestyle” malls, and is geared towards the more mature visitor. From hobbies to fashion and Japanese culture, you’ll keep coming back for more because one day is just not enough. If you’re hungry, this section has a great selection of eateries. The Grand Diners section is a zone for the sophisticated customer comprised of 14 selected restaurants, including 8 making their debut in Chiba. Gourme-Guri is a section of 26 restaurants in a food court style atmosphere. On 1F, get your shopping fix on at shops like Topshop, Tsutaya Book, Shu Uemura, and Bose. On 2F, you can find stores like H&M, Sostrene Grene, and Laura Ashley. 3F is the most unique of all floors, especially if you’re looking to find one-of-a-kind gifts from Japan. In the section called “Japan Pop Jungle,” anything and everything related to Japanese characters and pop culture is here. At Cospa Asia, this is the shop for One Piece, Naruto, Maus collections and more! Just a few doors down are Sanrio Vivitix, Gundam Café, and Steam Locomotive, a Railway Café. All are definitely a must see!
AEON Mall at Makuhari City has so much to offer. And with the New Year rapidly approaching, I’m sure you’ll be able to find Japanese Fukubukuro (Mystery bags or Happy bags) throughout the mall. For visitors with a temporary stay status, show your passport for tax-free shopping at participating stores. Stop by the Information Desk on 1F for more information. Just a 30-minute train ride from Tokyo Station, there's something for everyone at AEON Mall!