Building Memories - The History of Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Part 5
The story so far of how Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store was granted Important Cultural Property status has taken us back to the 17th Century through the modernity of Meiji and the adversity of the Taisho era. Even as the intangible qualities and values of these periods still resonate within the store, the building itself can seem occasionally alien, familiar in parts but ultimately distant. However, as we step into the first year of Showa (1926) and the gleaming store that had been rebuilt from the devastation wrought by the Great Kanto Earthquake in Taisho 12 (1923) only the previous year is, at its core, very much the one we walk through today.
If the previous era was defined by a hybrid culture caught between Japan and the West, the store that rose in Showa presented a solid vision of Japanese modernity. Of the new store's defining features that you can still enjoy today, the Mitsukoshi Hall, now renamed the Mitsukoshi Theater, has proved to be a vanguard for the performing arts since its inception in Showa 2 (1927). Innovative in the very concept of having a theater within a department store and featuring stunning stained glass adorning arches and sumptuous wooden carving throughout, one can only imagine the impact it must have had at the time.
In Showa 9 (1934) the Special Dining Room was opened, which were likewise opulent in setting, designed under French designer René Prou. Also with the opening of the direct entrance to the newly completed Ginza Subway Line, one can feel all the pieces in place to take us from modernity to the contemporary, but there is still a final part to this story to be explored.
Top: Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store pictured after expansion work was completed in Showa 10 (1935). Also pictured is a poster displayed at the time to commemorate the occasion.