Marui

Twilight on a department store roof garden. French fantasy meets function.

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新宿の丸井のデパートの屋上庭園は、フランスのファンタジーみたいです。仲が良さそうな若いカップルが多いです。

I love the contrived fantasy of Marui’s Shinjuku roof garden. It’s a large space, with many formal French elements like precise mini-hedges, various arbors, lush borders, and various seating options. At twilight, the lights come on, and I love the mix of formal garden with functional elements like heating and cooling systems, barbed wire for safety, and views of additional Marui building signage and the blank, almost windowless Docomo tower. The photos make it seem empty, but in fact local teens have already discovered this hidden, semi-public space.

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Interview in the Japan Times about Tokyo Green Space

Japan Timesという日本で一番大きい英語新聞に、Tokyo Green Space のインタビューが出ました。丸井の屋上の庭でインタビューが行われて、ちょうどその時、店員さんが芝生に掃除機をかけていました。都市生活と自然が完璧にミックスしてました。

The Japan Times, Japan’s largest English language newspaper, published an interview about Tokyo Green Space online and in print. The interview took place on Marui’s roof garden, and when we met there, a staff member was vacuuming the lawn. A perfect mix of city life and gardening. I hope you find the interview interesting.

Here’s the print version of the newspaper, where the blogroll interview is positioned on the “Techno Times” page. You can click to make it larger.

Small birdhouse adds charm to Marui department store’s roof garden

丸井の屋上の庭に、かわいい巣箱があります。鳥が入ったでしょうか。
This small birdhouse adds charm to the Marui department store roof garden. I wonder if any birds have found their way inside. Shinjuku san-chome.

Fragrant Winter Daphne (ジンチョウゲ) is everywhere in Tokyo

まだ冬なのに、東京のどこにもジンチョウゲがすてきな匂いをさせています。

Everywhere I walk in Tokyo, I notice the incredible scent of Winter Daphne (daphne odora, or ジンチョウゲ). Beginning in late February, between plum and cherry blossom seasons, this compact bush with glossy leaves produces hundreds and thousands of red flower buds that open pink and release a mesmerizing scent. It must be easy to grow since I’ve seen it planted in front of offices and houses. The photo above is from the new Nakano Marui department store, which has created a very lovely garden and mid-block pathway that I will write about soon.


Marui’s new Nakano store offers generous sidewalk

新しい中野のマルイ(0101)は歩道をきれいします。公共の造園がマルイの新しいブランド・アイデンティティになります。

Marui’s new Nakano store offers a generous sidewalk, blurring public and commercial spaces. I love how Marui is making public landscaping its brand identity.

I am super pleased that the new Marui department store in Nakano is building a great entrance. Rather than build up to the edge of the property, Marui has a two-story atrium by setting back its entrance, with four mature trees and hopefully some planter beds. By blurring the line between public and commercial space, Marui will create an engaging sidewalk with plants.

For a short stretch of this narrow sidewalk on the south side of the JR station, there will be plants on both sides.

This store design seems related to the new Shinjuku store landscape, which I blogged last year. That store also has two very popular ground floor food shops (an Italian gelato and French bakery) that are very open to the sidewalk and attractive, new green spaces.

I like to see how smart retailers realize that improving the sidewalk and pedestrian experience will increase business and goodwill. There is no contradiction between generosity and profits. I hope that this public green space becomes a recognizable part of Marui’s brand identity. I’ll definitely check out Marui Nakano when it opens soon.

Marui department store brands itself with plants

Marui's plant walls in subway passage

Several months ago Marui opened up another department store in Shinjuku san chome, along with at least three other existing ones and retail competition that includes Isetan’s flagship across the street. It is interesting that one of its defining design themes is green space. If you arrive by Tokyo Metro, you can see strips of living plant walls in the underground passageway.

Marui at night, Shinjuku

At the street level, Marui created large gardens more than a meter wide along the sidewalk with trees, bushes and grasses. This provides an unexpected burst of plant life in an area otherwise paved and overflowing with signage and people.

Marui green brand

Marui even uses low light plants in indoor merchandising. It feels like a coherent and unique brand identity extending from outside to inside the retail space. Unfortunately some of the indoor “plants” are plastic, including faux vines above the first floor selling area, but not everyone notices.

Marui green wall

In the photo above you can see how the subway level green wall is a modular system, allowing easy replacement of plants. It’s great to see a retail company standing out by providing plants and gardens to passer-bys as well as shoppers.