Last week a new retail village quietly opened in the Daikanyama neighborhood of Tokyo. Dubbed Daikanyama T-Site, it’s operated by CCC (Culture, Convenience Club), the parent company of media rental giant Tsutaya. And by “quietly” I’m not referring to physical size – at 12000 sq meters and 3 buildings the place is huge – but rather an odd discreetness that is rare when it comes to such commercial endeavors.
For example, there was no opening ceremony. And I couldn’t find a single press release from the company announcing it. There isn’t even a large sign on site advertising its own presence. The location is also odd. Situated roughly 5 minutes away from Daikanyama station, it can’t compete with the convenience of ekimae (front-of-the-station) retail outlets. And yet it’s regal self assurance is inspiring – so grounded and rounded as if knowing she is held securely in the palm of the neighborhood.
This is perhaps, in part, due to the considered design, which is the work of Tokyo-based architects Klein Dytham. I love the tessellated Ts that adorn the facades of the main buildings. And the interiors are rounded-out by some fantastic signage by Kenya Hara.
Although the main space is Tsutaya Books, it’s complemented by a carefully curated ensemble of hobby/lifestyle shops that include a bar and a café as well as a camera and bicycle shop. And upon closer examination, the whole concept reveals some pretty drastic deviations from any preconceived notion of what a bookstore is. For example, the glaring omission of comic books and study guides, the pinnacle of student culture, replaced by now-defunct magazine titles like Heibon Punch and Taiyo.
It’s as if they went out of their way to say, “sorry teenagers and anyone under 35. There’s nothing here for you. Now move along.”
In many ways the new concept is a return to their roots, which date back to 1983. The company opted to shrink their hip western character name “Tsutaya” and replace it with the original Japanese “蔦谷.” Whether their strategy and execution to target the middle-age and senior baby-boomers will play out is yet to be seen. However, it seems to me they’re on the right track. CCC’s main customers are currently between age 20 – 30. And with a shrinking population, the company was only destined to relive the 2 ways Ernest Hemingway describes a man going broke: “gradually then suddenly.”
source: @jeansnow pimping the hell out of it on twitter