“Tokyo Review 028” Shinjuku area-4
The golden line of Shinjuku area
As it is often a case with an old town, there are some well-established stores in Shinjuku.One of them is “Shinjuku Takano” which is famous for the “Takano Fruit Parlor teahouse”. The origin of the shop is Takano Wholesaler Shop which began selling fruits as a side business in 1900. They began selling muskmelon in 1920 and started the “Outdoor Dining Bench” service in the following year, which is the prototype of the teahouse. Another famous brand, Shinjuku Nakamuraya used to have their shop in Hongo which was in front of the main gate of Tokyo University. They relocated to Shinjuku in 1909. Their origin of business is selling snacks and canned food. In 1927, they opened a cafe restaurant and served Indian curry rice there, and at the same time, sold canned curry as well. Behind this epoch-making production, there seems to be a fact that the founder and his wife harbored an Indian leader for their independent movement.
In 1959, the Tokyo Subway Marunouchi Line was launched, and Shinjuku station and Shinjuku 3-chome station started operation. The distance between the two stations is only about 300 meters. It is the shortest in all lines of Tokyo Metro, while the average distances between stations in Marunouchi line is about 1 km. At the same time, the underground commercial space called “Metro Promenade” was constructed. It established the foundation for the underground space development such as the “SUBNADE” connecting to Seibu Shinjuku station and “Lumine-Est” leading to JR Shinjuku east exit. Isetan department store has two entrances directly open to this promenade.
The road above this promenade is the Shinjuku-Dori Avenue. The section of about 300m from Shinjuku Takano to Isetan main building and Shinjuku 3-chome intersection is special. It contains representative stores such as Shinjuku Nakamuraya, Sanseido bookstore, Bicqlo, Marui and so on. We can call it the “Golden Line” of Shinjuku. In fact, the land price along this section is more than double the price compared to that of other main streets nearby. When a world famous apparel brand from France tried to open a road side shop in Shinjuku, they persisted to acquire a position in this Golden Line. I have no objection to that.
The department stores around the west exit of Shinjuku station were developed in the 1960’s, when the War Damage Reconstruction came to a halt. Odakyu Department Store was founded by making use of the Tokyo Tatemono Shinjuku Building (currently “HALK”) in 1962. They relocated to the new main building in 1966, combining the Shinjuku Subway Building and the southern part of the Shinjuku West Exit Building (current: Odakyu Shinjuku station building). Keio Department store was founded in 1964 at the Keio building which was built by redevelopment project accompanied with the subterranean ization project of Keio Railway Shinjuku station.