Tamagawa Dori
Setagaya City (Tokyo Metropolis), Japan

The nation of Nippon ["nee-pohn"] (Japan's actual name) began its shopping mall evolution in 1929. This is when the first so-called "station mall" was built. These small, often subterranean, shopping arcades were constructed as a part of large passenger railway terminals.

40 years later, the island nation's first suburban-style mall made its debut. TAMAGAWA TAKASHIMAYA was developed by Osaka's Takashimaya chain of department stores, under the auspices of Tokyo-based Toshin Kaihatsu, Limited, a real estate subsidiary.

Prior to construction, agents of the Toshin company had investigated various shopping centers in Europe and the United States. It was decided that the car-culture-based American model would not be feasible in Japan, as most of its citizens did not own an automobile. A decision was made to emulate shopping facilities in Sweden, which had been built near, or as part of, public transportation terminals.     

A 7.9 acre plot, located 5.8 miles southwest of center city Tokyo, was acquired. Until the mid-1960s, it had contained a small amusement park. The site, near the northern bank of the Tama River, was within the City of Setagaya, one of 23 "special wards" comprising the eastern half of the urban core or "Tokyo Metropolis".

The site was also adjacent to the Tokyu Corporation's Futako-Tamagawaen commuter train terminal. By mid-1968, land had been cleared and construction of a 525,300 square foot, fully-enclosed shopping mall was underway. A (277,300 square foot) Takashimaya department store occupied half of the area of 5 of the center's 6 retail levels, with floors 4 and 5 being dedicated entirely to said store.

TAMAGAWA TAKASHIMAYA opened for business November 11, 1969. At the top of the complex (on a 7th floor) was a pastoral roof garden. A multi-level parking garage flanked the mall's west side, with a sky bridge connecting the two.

Following the lead of TAMAGAWA TAKASHIMAYA, several shopping malls were built in the environs of Tokyo. The first of these was SHIBUYA 109 (1979), {5.5 miles northeast, in Shibuya City, Tokyo Metropolis}. Then, there was AEON MALL MUSASHIMURAYAMA (2006) {16.3 miles northwest, in Musashimurayama, Tokyo Metropolis}, LAZONA KAWASAKI PLAZA (2006) {6.7 miles southeast, in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture} and LALAPORT YOKOHAMA (2007) {7.4 miles southeast, in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture}.

Several freestanding structures were added on the periphery of the TAMAGAWA TAKASHIMAYA Main BuildingIn October 1977, the South Building was completed. It occupied 7.1 acres and consisted of 9 levels and approximately 305,200 leasable square feet. Like the Main Building, the South Building featured a rooftop garden. Both of these were connected by via sky bridge. 

A West Annex was constructed as an extension of the existing West Building parking garage. Peripheral structures were also built on pads northeast of the Main Building. These included the 4-level Garden Island Building, completed in June 1998, 3-level Keyaki Court and 4-level Marronnier Court

Eventually, the TAMAGAWA TAKASHIMAYA complex would incorporate 11 commercial buildings, covering a total of 16.7 acres. As of late 2017, the main mall and its associated structures encompass approximately 932,200 leasable square feet and contain 340 stores and services.


"Takashimaya" article on Wikipedia
"Setagaya, Tokyo" article on Wikipedia
SR Research Report, Takashimaya Company, Limited / December 2014
https://www.japantimes.co.jp / "Futakotamagawa, Somewhere for Everyone" / Setsuko Kamiya / November 2003
The New York Times