Amita Co. artists: Minai, Torahiko Kanamori, Takeshi

Mitsukoshi [三越] (1673 ~ today)

The history of Mitsukoshi began in 1673, when Takatoshi Mitsui, a kimono fabric merchant, founded Echigoya Dry Good Store (越後屋) in Edo (present day Tokyo), Honcho ward. Instead of selling by going door-to-door, which was a standard pratice back than, Mitsui introduced the concept of sales at labeled prices to merchandising and sold fabric at whatever lengths his buyers desired on the spot with cash. This gained Echigoya popularity among its customers and the envy of its competitors.
Ten years later, in 1683, the Echigoya store moved to Surugacho ward and also conducted business as a money exchanger. In 1691 Mitsui established another store dealing in kimono fabrics and money exchange, at Koraibashi street, Osaka.

Mitsui Takatoshi (left), the founder of Echigoya, the predecessor of Mitsukoshi (right).

Two centures later, in 1893, Echigoya company assumed the style of the Mitsui Dry Goods Store, being converted into a partnership. In 1895 Yoshio Takahashi became manager and started full-fledged reorganization of Mitsui Gofukuten.

Echigoya (left), Mitsui group (right) and Mitsui bank (behind). Circa 1900.

In 1904 the company's name was changed from the Mitsui family's Echigoya to Mitsukoshi Gofukuten Co., Ltd. Osuke Hibi [日比翁助] became its first senior managing director and went on to establish the company as Japan's first department store.

Mitsukoshi Gofukuten (left) and Osuke Hibi (right) in 1904.

The department stores abroad mainly intended for making supplies for the needs of the middle and lower classes of society, but in the case of the Mitsukoshi Department Store, owing to its past historical connections, it was patronized by all classes of people. The Mitsukoshi Department Store supplied articles to the Imperial Household and the noblity, as well as to the ordinary subject·of the Mikado. The store had large orders from people living in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto as well as from farmers and fishermen in the remotest districts of the country. The articles supplied by the Store were cheap and good, which has greatly enhanced its reputation.

Inside the company store in 1894 (left) and 1904 (right).

In 1907 the first restaurant inside the main store was opened. The same year company established the Fine Arts Department. In 1914 a new building to house the main store at Nihonbashi was completed. This new structure brought the concept of the department store into a new age. The now famous massive lion statues that flank the store's entrance, soon became a landmark for shoppers as did Japan's first escalator inside its main entrance.

New building featuring Renaissance-style (1914).

For distinguished visitors the store had a set of rooms. Many distinguished foreign guests have been received in the rooms, among them being H.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, H.H. Carl Anton Hohenzollern of Germany, H.B. the Crown Prince of Siam, Miss Roosevelt, Mr. Bryan (Secretary of State of the United States) and General Kuropatkin.
In 1923 the Nihonbashi Main Store burned to the ground during the Great Kanto Earthquake. Two years later, in 1925, the Nihonbashi Main Store was rebuilt and reopened. When the store reopened, the custom of collecting customers' shoes at the entrance was discontinued.

Rebuilt store in 1925, after the Great Great Kanto Earthquake.

In 1927 Mitsukoshi opened the Mitsukoshi Hall (presently Mitsukoshi Theater) at the Nihonbashi Main Store and held Japan's first fashion show.
At the store almost everything a home requires could be obtained in addition to dry goods. A mere list of departments into which the store was divided was extraordinarily long, including dry goods, tailoring, toilet articles, travelling necessaries, hosiery, millinery, precious metal articles, shoes and boots, umbrellas, toys and other articles for children, stationery, Japanese and foreign furniture, photographic apparatus, art treasures, provisions, Japanese and foreign kitchen utensils, tea, sea weeds, flowers, all kinds of presents and gifts.

Mitsukoshi store in Dalian (Dairen), China, in 1912 (left) and 1927 (right).

In 1928, the corporate name was changed from Mitsukoshi Gofukuten Co., Ltd. to Mitsukoshi, Ltd. In 1929 company opened the Shinjuku Store and in 1930 the Ginza Store opened its doors to the customers. The Nihonbashi Main Store began serving lunches especially for children, at its restaurant.
In 1930s Mitsukoshi opened new branches: Takamatsu Store (1931), Sapporo Store (1932) and Sendai Store (1933). The subway station, Mitsukoshi-mae was opened and connected to the basement floor of the Nihonbashi Main Store.

Mitsukoshi stores in Ginza (left) and Osaka (right). 1930s.

In 1946, the Matsuyama Store was opened, making it the first store opened following WWII. Next year the Mitsukoshi Clinic is established, presently known as Mitsukoshi Welfare Corporation. In 1951 company began using floral wrapping paper designed by the painter Genichiro Inokuma in all its stores. Six years later, in 1957, the Ikebukuro Store was opened.
In 1960 Mitsukoshi displayed a statue of Magokoro, which intended to represent sincerity, in the central hall of the Nihonbashi Main Store. "The statue of goddess Magokoro" is a masterpiece of Mr. Gengen Sato who spent more than 10 years at the task after it was commissioned by Mitsukoshi Ltd.

Statue of Magokoro before (left) and after (right) installation in the Nihonbashi Store.

In 1971 the first overseas store, Paris Mitsukoshi, was opened. In 1973 company opened its branches in Hiroshima and Yokohama, and 7 years later in Kurashiki.
In 1982 Mitsukoshi opened a new store oversees, at the Disney World in Florida. At the same year the Board of Directors meeting dismissed Mr. Okada from the President and Representative Director offices. Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited the Nihonbashi Main Store in 1986.
During 1990s Mitsukoshi opened more of its branches: Shinko Mitsukoshi Store in Taipei (1991), Mitsukoshi Etoile Store in Paris (1992), Ebisu Store as the core of the Ebisu Garden Place (1994) and Fukuoka Store (1997). In 1996 a new building in the Osaka Store to replace the one damaged in the Great Hanshin earthquake was opened. At the same year company inaugurated the Mitsukoshi credit card system and launched Mitsukoshi's website on the Internet.
During early 2000s Mitsukoshi opened two more branches: Tama Center Store (2000) and Kichijoji Store (2001, closed in 2006). In 2003 the new Mitsukoshi, Ltd. was established by merging the five main stores at Nihombashi's Main Store with stores in Nagoya, Chiba, Kagoshima and Fukuoka. In 2005 Lachic, as specialty store, is opened in Nagoya. The business operations at the Shinjuku Store were reorganized under the new name, Alcot.

Addresses and locations
Examples (from the web)