Take our user survey and make your voice heard.
Image: SoraNews24

Tokyo’s most famous video rental shop is shutting down

By SoraNews24

As you step out of Shibuya Station and into the world-famous Shibuya Scramble intersection, one of the first things that’ll draw your eyes is the massive video billboard on the QFront skyscraper. Below the screen you’ll probably notice the sign for the QFron’s Starbucks, but below that you’ll see the name of one of the building’s biggest tenants: Tsutaya.

Tsutaya is an entertainment media company, and Japan’s biggest video rental chain. In many parts of the world, that’s an industry that disappeared several years ago, and while physical media rentals are in decline in Japan as well, Tsutaya’s rental business is still soldiering on…but not for much longer in its flagship Shibuya location.

Tsutaya has announced that it will be temporarily closing the Shibuya Tsutaya branch (as the QFront shop is designated), with its last currently scheduled day of operation being October 31, and when it reopens, it will be without its video rental service. The branch’s music rental service will be ending too (in Japan, where music purchase prices have long been exorbitantly high, CD rentals have been a thing since the 1990s).

Also going away is Shibuya Tsutaya’s VHS rental service. The branch was one of the last in Japan to still offer rentals of not only the cassettes, but also VCRs to play them on.

▼ A small portion of Shibuya Tsutaya’s “Shibuya Film Collection,” as the VHS section was called

Image: SoraNews24

Tsutaya isn’t going to be vacating the premises entirely, though. In addition to video and music rentals, Shibuya Tsutaya (which currently stretches from basement level 2 all the way up to the 8th floor of the building) also sells Blu-rays, CDs, books, manga, video games, and trading cards, and the Shibuya branch also has a cafe and event hall. Though most strongly associated with video rentals, the company positions itself as a broader entertainment media provider, and the temporary closure is meant to give the Shibuya branch time to remodel and refocus on the better performing sectors of its business model.

With technology marching on and so many people now preferring to stream their movies and music, it’s more a matter of when, rather than if, Tsutaya branches are going to be discontinuing their rental services. It happening at the Shibuya one has a special sting to it, though, and not just for people nostalgic for the days when its prime location made it a must-stop on Friday nights and weekends for cinephile Tokyoites. Shibuya Tsutaya opened in 1999, and in the years since it’s amassed a massive rental catalog of movies, TV shows, and music albums. The VHS selection, for example, still has 6,000 tapes, including some films/programs that aren’t available on disc or for online viewing anywhere. Its DVD and CD collections also include out-of-print titles with no digital distribution, not even through Tsutaya’s online streaming service that it’s in the process of pivoting to.

There is a silver lining, though, in that Shibuya Tsutaya isn’t going to be dumping all of its rental discs and tapes into the trash. Instead, they’re scheduled to become available next spring through the company’s Tsutaya Discas service of mail-delivered physical media rentals. Still, if you’re looking to browse the aisles of one of Japan’s most famous rental shops, the clock is ticking.

Sources: PR Times, Business Journal via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- This downtown Tokyo video rental shop still has 6,000 VHS tapes, will rent you a VCR too

-- Hikaru Utada releasing vinyl version of all albums, pop-up store opening in Shibuya

-- The first ever pizza-dispensing vending machine in Japan is now operating in Hiroshima

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Most of customers now prefer streaming through their electronic device, Blockbuster already close their stores. Why Japan's Tsutaya think that just won't happen to them soon or later.


0 ( +4 / -4 )

In the few years since moving to my current location, three out of four Tsutaya branches have closed shop. Sad for a holdout on streaming subscription services like me who still rents DVDs and CDs, though I suppose there’s still Geo (for now).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I use their Tsutaya Discus service since I live way out in the sticks. Glad to read they're going to keep that going. Lots of movies and TV shows they don't offer on theirs or others' streaming sites.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The name will live on at least through their ubiquitous Tsutaya point card system found and used everywhere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

> sakurasukiToday  07:13 am JST

Most of customers now prefer streaming through their electronic device, Blockbuster already close their stores. Why Japan's Tsutaya think that just won't happen to them soon or later.

Who said they didn't think it won't happen to them?

Tsutaya has been doing lots of many other businesses for a long time now and just kept the "rental" business as, believe it or not, there is still a (small) market for it

I watch mostly through streaming sites now but nothing beats the excitement of going to a rental shop and making a commitment in chosing what to get

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I remember when renting of VHS tape from Tsutaya costs some 600JPY for new films for one day rental back in 1996...

time flies fast...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah well I prefer the physical media, since I actually own it and do what I want with it and share it with whomever I want.

This is sad. Japan holding out as long as it can. Books probably going the way of the dodo next too.

Meanwhile everything is going subscription based. Cancel your subscription, lose access to everything. That model has even moved to computers (Windoze 12 will be entirely subscription based) and even cars... What does the WEF say again?

I miss the simple good ol' 80s.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

“Video”? What’s that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No loss. Never used them ever.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I must've paid a small fortune in late fees to Tsutaya back in the day, and probably kept them in business for an extra year or two...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Agree with tora. Physical media is an asset you can sell or pass on. Nobody can be cancelled if their work has been distributed physically.

CDs and DVDs are still being released. I get some from Japan most weeks. New Kpop releases are all over ebay, with some folk taking pre-orders. As with 78s, 16mm and VCs, CDs and DVDs will continue to circulate. If you enjoy renting, buy them, watch them, and then sell them again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites