executive impact

GINZA SIX to revitalize Tokyo's premier shopping district

By Chris Betros

On April 20, the new GINZA SIX mixed-use complex will open its doors to the public. It is the newest and largest retail area in Tokyo’s famous shopping district.

GINZA SIX stands on 1.4 hectares of space comprising two city blocks, including the former site of Matsuzakaya Ginza department store and adjacent land. The building was completed unusually fast for a redevelopment project, beginning with the design finalization in December 2011 and the commencement of construction in April 2014. The new building, which measures 115 meters (width) by 100 meters (depth), comprises 148,700 square meters of total floor area, including office floors each with 6,100 square meters, one of the largest in Tokyo’s 23 wards; 47,000 square meters of retail space with 241 retail outlets, unmatched in Ginza; and the Kanze Noh Theater.

The building, an important addition to disaster preparedness in the Ginza area, has its own emergency power-generating system and stockpiles of emergency supplies and provisions to accommodate up to 3,000 people in the event of a major disaster. Also, a tourist information center and a terminal for tour buses, as well as easy connections to public transport and roadways, will provide special conveniences and hospitality for visitors from around the world. Ginza Six will also offer the largest rooftop garden in Ginza.

Japan Today hears from Koichi Kurihara who is in charge of the retail operation side of GINZA SIX. After graduating with a degree in architecture from Waseda University in 1982, he joined Mori Building Co in 1982. Kurihara was president of Venus Fort Co in 2000, then became head of the Retail Development Department of Mori Building Co in 2011. He has been Executive Officer since 2014.

GINZA SIX will be the third shopping center to open in the Ginza area in recent years. What do you think will attract shoppers to keep coming back to GINZA SIX after the excitement of the opening passes.

First of all GINZA SIX is not just a new shopping center – it is Ginza’s largest mixed-use complex, the result of a major redevelopment project combining two city blocks. In addition to the 241 shops and restaurants, it accommodates large-scale office floors, a Kanze noh theater, a rooftop garden, a sightseeing bus terminal for Japanese and overseas visitors, and a tourist information center. Ginza has always been an attractive destination, but we believe that the completion of GINZA SIX will further strengthen its magnetic power and allow it to evolve into the global destination, that attracts visitors from around the world.

The retail facilities are also the largest in the Ginza area. These boast 241 world-class brand names among their tenants. More than half of these will operate flagship stores delivering a wide range of high quality products in advance of their other stores; this early showcasing of new products will be a distinguishing feature of GINZA SIX’s retail facilities. GINZA SIX also boasts 81 outlets opening in Ginza for the first time and 65 ventures adopting new business models. In addition to this impressive lineup of brands and shops, GINZA SIX will offer prestige by virtue of its high-quality facilities, membership programs, premium services, creative arts and events.

We will attract customers with these unique features. However, customers always expect new and exciting products, services, events, and presentation that surprise them overtime. At GINZA SIX, we will keep challenging to satisfy our customers’ needs with new products and services, and maintain the excitement of the complex.

Also the things that delight and stimulate vary from customer to customer. We need mechanisms to build one-to-one relationships between GINZA SIX and our customers that allow us to identify each individual’s needs. To this end, we have developed original membership program with smart phone application that allow us to easily interact with our customers.

With these efforts, we believe our customers will keep coming back and become “fans” of GINZA SIX.

At a press conference last year, Shingo Tsuji, president and CEO of Mori Building Co Ltd, spoke about GINZA SIX offering “six-star” service. How would you describe six-star service?

Our name is designed to illustrate that we are a six-star establishment where products and services that satisfy all five senses come together, inspiring levels of joy and satisfaction that transcend those senses.

For example, we will establish a premium lounge called "LOUNGE SIX" for VIP customers on the fifth floor, in order to establish a closer relationship with them and to offer premium services and memorable experiences. In this lounge, catering staff and concierges will respond to every minute customer request. Moreover, personal styling services and photo services (bookable upon payment of a fee), porter services will be on offer to make the experience even more special.

Also, we have developed a membership program and smart phone application which can be used not only to save and use points collected from shopping, but also to navigate inside the facility, valet parking, and make restaurant reservations. It also offers announcements about new items, events and news stories from inside and outside Japan selected by GINZA SIX. We will deploy these services to make time spent at GINZA SIX as comfortable as possible. We have also asked each tenant to offer top notch service, and they have all come on board with the idea that GINZA SIX should offer services of the top rank. As explained, around one half of the commercial tenants - 122 shops in total – will be flagship stores featuring their newest and broadest range of items, coupled with deluxe service levels.

How are you marketing GINZA SIX to overseas visitors? Are you using traditional mainstream advertising and social media?

We are planning on arranging FAM (familiarization) trips for international fashion and travel media. Also we are inviting key opinion leaders, bloggers, and Instagrammers stationed in Asia. We are hoping to spread the word of mouth through SNS.

How did you come up with the idea to include the Kanze Noh Theater in the complex?

As part of the redevelopment project, we were considering the creation of a dynamic multipurpose hall, and were looking for the suitable contents for the complex. In this search, we have met and shared a mutual goal with the Kanze Noh Theater, which had a base in Ginza in the Edo era.

The Kanze Association stated: "We would like to encourage young people to experience traditional Japanese culture more richly and deeply, and we hope Kanze Noh Theater will be a platform from which they can familiarize people with traditional Japanese culture and support the development of Ginza area as an international tourist destination.

What is the disaster readiness level of GINZA SIX? Can it withstand a strong earthquake?

Thanks to the adoption of two separate types of damping devices, the building is designed to withstand damage even at the extremely rare level of the 1995 Kobe earthquake and the 2011 East Japan earthquake. The power supply is particularly robust and stable, and can operate independently in the case of power outages. In the unlikely event of a major power outage, emergency generators powered by city gas kick in. If the supply of city gas were also to be interrupted, these generators can be operated using heavy oil, and can continue to supply electricity for up to 72 hours for safety purposes and for up to 48 hours for office business continuity.

We have prepared a warehouse stocked with food, water, blankets and other items that can provide shelter and support for up to 3,000 people rendered temporarily homeless in the event of a disaster. The Kanze Noh Theater will be used to provide temporary accommodation as well.

I heard you will have a tourist information center. How many languages will staff be able to speak?

Three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese.

What is the most important part of the Mori design philosophy when you build centers like GINZA SIX, the Toranomon Hills redevelopment project, Roppongi Hills and so on?

We are in an era of intensifying competition between international mega-cities, and Tokyo needs to be at the forefront. The capital city is an engine that helps to power the whole of Japan. For that reason, it is necessary to raise the city’s "magnetic power" by means of urban renewal and to attract people, goods and capital from around the world. Mori Building has been working on this for many decades now.

Mori Building’s ideal city is something we call a "Mixed-use Vertical Garden City." By combining multiple small plots of land into a single large space and then consolidating building needs into high-rise structures with large amounts of underground space, we can free up a vast swathes of open space and green space at ground level. This provides a compact urban environment where multiple functions and activities - living, working, playing, learning, resting, etc – co-exist.

We are advancing all of our urban revitalization projects in this way, but there are no two identical “Hills” developments (ARK Hills, Roppongi Hills, Omotesando Hills, Toranomon Hills, GINZA SIX, etc). Mori Building’s projects draw out each site’s magnetic force, thus creating an optimum solution that exploits the potential of each location. For example, in the Toranomon Hills area, we are trying to build a "Global Business Center" by simultaneously progressing four large-scale initiatives, together with a new Hibiya Line subway station. In addition, since the opening of Roppongi Hills in 2003, the Hills have continued to spread culture throughout the world based on the concept of it being the "Cultural Heart of Tokyo". Meanwhile, Ginza is undoubtedly the center of commerce in Japan, and GINZA SIX is a catalyst that will create new magnetic power there.

In this way, it is vital that via a process of urban redevelopment that makes full use of each area’s individual characteristics and potential, each area of the city increases the magnetic power of Tokyo as a whole to help it withstand competition among international cities.

Mori Building has a unique vision of city making, “create cities, nurture cities”, and we take pride in the strength that derives from our decades-long experience of taking a holistic approach to the creation and development of cities. We have experienced staff, technology and know-how to make it happen. In order to strengthen the magnetic power of a city, it is necessary not only to create things, but to tenderly and carefully nurture them as well. The raison d’etre of a city is its people. The freshness of the city may decay with the passage of time, but the bonds between people can deepen. At Roppongi Hills, the Town Management team continues to pursue various initiatives, creating a magnetism that attracts 40 million people every year. We want to continue increasing that magnetic power in the future.

What is a typical day for you? Are you at the GINZA SIX site every day?

Following the completion of GINZA SIX at the end of January, the operating company has already moved its office to the seventh floor of the new complex. We check the progress of the rest of the commercial space - still under construction – on a daily basis.

Do you sometimes visit other shopping centers in Japan and abroad to see what they are doing? Is that useful for you?

I visit newly-opened facilities without exception, as well as existing facilities – particularly the ones I really admire. I also visit facilities in other countries when I’m on overseas business trips, and try to directly talk with the operator of the facility.

When you are not working, how do you like to relax? Do you have any hobbies or play any sports?

I regularly visit Mori Building’s facilities on weekends - especially when they are staging events. I also take care to spend time with my family. My hobby is soul music and watching rugby matches. I watch games on TV and also go watch live matches at stadiums when my time allows.

© Japan Today

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Mori do a pretty good job of these mixed use mega complexes. Maybe a little bit too samey in the designer stores they have as tenants, but otherwise good.

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Was there today (Monday). I thought today was the opening day ... and a guard told me it is April 20, which is what the article above says. The building is finished ... and the stores are setting up their sales areas. Should be an interesting place to visit ... when it opens.

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I am so looking forward to the opening on April 20 ! New hang out place for me. Hope the visitors behaves well.....not eating while walking within the store, for example.....

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I don't mean to be a negative nancy, but why does any part of Tokyo need revitalization? Seems to me the countryside could use a little bit more help. Ginza will always be fine..

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