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Mitsukoshi Department Store

A Cathedral to Shopping

There are two prestigious department stores in Matsuyama, Mitsukoshi and Iyotetsu Takashimaya, within easy walking distance of each other. Here we’ll have a look at Mitsukoshi.

Close to the entrance of the Okaido Shopping Arcade is the grand doorway to Mitsukoshi. Push open one of the heavy doors and you find in yourself in a vast atrium that reaches up nine floors, topped with a great metal and glass roof that reveals the sky. Welcome to the Cathedral of Shopping. Depending on when you visit, there may be a pianist or a chamber orchestra performing a little concert on the stage by the entrance.

The first floor is devoted to stalls of Japanese and foreign makeup manufacturers, staffed by good-looking women, exotically suited and made up. Everything is a gleaming clinical white or glossy black. The second floor has more glamour in the form of chambers displaying the wares of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other prestige brands, with sophisticated displays that change regularly.

As a rule, the higher you go in Mitsukoshi, the lower the prices become. On the apparel floors, there are high-quality brand labels, with pricing to match. Each ‘department’ or shop is manned by one or more staff who will greet you as you pass by, and if you enter and handle some merchandise, will bustle up and register intense willingness to be of service, albeit in Japanese. If you make a purchase, you can expect the rituals of payment and packaging to take up a good deal of time and involve sundry courtesies of a sort that you won’t encounter in other types of store. Kimonos are a traditional mainstay of Japanese department stores, and foreign visitors may find the displays of kimonos particularly interesting.

On the upper floors, the merchandise is more utilitarian, with furniture, tableware, interior decorations, stationery and toys. I was surprised to find a department on one of the upper floors entirely dedicated to school uniforms. The basement is for food and beverages, all beautiful presented and packaged.

Mitsukoshi has an art gallery on the sixth floor that was showing an attractive if rather modish collection of paintings featuring mythical beings of Japan. The pricing was accordingly modish too. Department stores these days vie to put interesting things on their roof tops, and Mitsukoshi is no exception. It’s home to the Ehime Futsal Park Matsuyama Mitsukoshi which can be used by the general public for a fee.

The wealthier segment of my acquaintance – the dentists and company presidents – tell me that Matsuyama’s department stores are also happy to bring their products to you in a van to look at, if they’re satisfied there’s a reasonable chance of making a sale. Somebody I know likes to have jewels arrayed before her at home, although she doesn’t always condescend to make a purchase lest the salespeople become too familiar.

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