Western models and Eastern influences

Japanese department stores in the early twentieth century

Authored by: Rika Fujioka

The Routledge Companion to the History of Retailing

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138675087
eBook ISBN: 9781315560854
Adobe ISBN:


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The development of Japanese department stores was influenced by Western department stores. Mitsukoshi, for example, was strongly inspired by American and British department stores. They were keen to introduce Western modern organisational structure, merchandise and sales methods. Department stores in Japan therefore acted as windows into the Western lifestyle and consequently dominated the retail market in Japan in the early twentieth century. This development in turn impacted retailers and consumers in other Asian countries such as Korea and China. Japanese retailers began their international activities in the early twentieth century and their modern, Western-style stores became symbols of the Westernisation of retailing. The original department stores therefore triggered a wave of Westernisation and modernisation that spread from the West to Japan, and then on to other Asian countries. This chapter investigates how Japanese department stores caught up with Western department stores and carved out a path for the modernisation of Asian retailing in the early twentieth century.

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