Shopaholics, you might like Ginza's new Marronnier Gate complex

A woman sits on the ornamented bench for social media photos at the Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 building.
The Japan News/ Asia News Network

The Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 and 3 shopping complex had their grand opening in the Ginza district of Tokyo earlier this month. The complex was reborn from the former Printemps Ginza main building and annex, which closed late last year.

The concept behind the complex is to support working women and mothers who are health-conscious and want to be up-to-date with fashion trends. The shops are spaciously arranged to offer a relaxed shopping experience.

There are 123 shops, including 32 newly opened businesses. They join adjacent Marronnier Gate Ginza 1 to form a three-building complex along Ginza Marronnier-dori street for a total of 157 shops.

After renovations, Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 and 3 opened March 15 aiming to attract a wider range of customers compared to the former time, with new features that consider customers' well-being. Healthy food, dietary supplements and other products to help customers have a more comfortable lifestyle are a key feature of the facilities. A wide array of fashion items and cosmetics is also an appeal.

The exterior of the Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 building in Chuo Ward, Tokyo Photo: The Japan News/ Asia News Network

The new facilities are also equipped with devices for the high-tech age. At the entrance lobby of Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 sits a large clock with digital hands, decorated with fresh flowers and greenery. The Hanadokei (flower clock) is intended to be a new meeting-up spot in Ginza. The flowers are changed according to the season.

The SNS Spot near the escalator of the building's second floor encourages shoppers to post photos they take with their smartphones onto social networking services. When they post their photos on social media, they can get their prints at a photo printing machine installed there.

On the third floor, the spacious Dresser Room allows women to put on makeup and change their clothes in comfort. Shoppers can also take a rest on a sofa there.

A rest area with chairs is also offered near the escalators on the second to fourth floors. "It's convenient to take a break there during shopping," said a staff member in charge. "This space is also convenient for meeting up with friends."

The spacious Dresser Room Photo: The Japan News/ Asia News Network

To be user-friendly to women with small children, the aisles are 10 to 30 centimeters wider than in the previous layout of the department store, making it easy to shop with a stroller.

"I can't go shopping easily as I have a baby, but this place has a rest area and a breastfeeding room, so I'm happy to be here," said a 33-year-old company worker from Ota Ward, Tokyo, who was pushing her 3-month-old baby in a stroller.

The second basement floor of Marronnier Gate Ginza 2 houses restaurants and shops featuring healthy foods and products for wellness management, such as sportswear and athletic shoes.

The Sakura Shokudo serves set meals featuring brown rice and many kinds of vegetables. Vegetables served at With Green, which specializes in salads, are grown by farmers who were selected by the shop staff in person and are under contract with the shop operator. Customers can choose among the season's vegetables, cooked meats, brown rice, dressings and some other items on offer at the shop considering the ingredients' nutritional balance. There are also prepared items.

Photo: The Japan News/ Asia News Network

Healthy-One, which specializes in dietary supplements, provides on-the-spot counseling by a certified dietitian and makes an assortment of supplements according to the counseling result and each customer's lifestyle and health.

Food bought from shops in the building can be eaten at a cafeteria space. There is also a section for holding events.

"We want to run some health- and beauty-themed events, such as mini yoga classes," said an employee in charge.

Sophisticated atmosphere

When I recently visited Marronnier Gate Ginza 2, I noticed the shopping complex maintained the sophisticated atmosphere of Printemps Ginza with such elements as the flower clock at the entrance.

The elegant white-walled Dresser Room on the third floor is exclusively for women. As this section is separate from the busy rest room area and is equipped with tables for individual use with mirrors and chairs, customers can relax and refresh their makeup without worrying about people waiting in line. When I visited this place on a weekday evening, a woman was checking her scheduling book.

The Nitori outlet for furniture and home accessories increased its floor space. The shop on the fifth and sixth floors is a convenient rarity in central Tokyo. When I started living in downtown Tokyo several years ago, I was told large stores of this type were usually located in the suburbs. Nitori is known for affordable products, yet this Ginza outlet has a certain gorgeous atmosphere with its escalator areas neatly decorated with upscale items.

Photo: The Japan News/ Asia News Network

Finally, I went down to the second basement floor. I had thought it was a food floor, but some shops there sell sportswear and more specialised items such as yoga mats. Sports items and food are usually sold on different floors at department stores, but I soon noticed they have the same aim - good health - and that has been realised on this floor.

As it was almost dinnertime, I went to With Green and bought "Season's pickled vegetables and steamed chicken" for takeout from the menu of prepared items. I chose this as I felt making pickles at home by myself would take some time. Also, it was ¥830, the least expensive item on the menu and was only 361 calories.

When eating it at home, I found the salad alone was enough for dinner. I particularly liked the lotus root as it was an ideal combination of sweet and sour, nicely thick and crunchy.

I decided when visiting the Ginza district I will have to drop by the newly renovated shopping complex again to find something else nice.Speech