STYLE FILES / Tokyo Midtown Hibiya is like a small town

Photo by Akira Miura

Izakaya restaurant Ikkaku in Hibiya Central Market on the third floor of Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

By Akira Miura / Special to The Japan NewsTokyo Midtown Hibiya, the new shopping and office complex in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, has been busy with more customers than expected since its opening on March 29.

Most people likely don’t know that Ginza and Hibiya, two adjacent districts in Chuo and Chiyoda wards, have completely different sales capacities. Ginza has three to four times the selling power of Hibiya, resulting in a gap of three to four times in their respective rents as well.

Hibiya is on the west side of the metropolitan expressway, and Ginza is on the east side.

Developed by Mitsui Fudosan Co., Tokyo Midtown Hibiya has an intriguing plan compared with other commercial complexes in central Tokyo: The lower floors are mostly leased to restaurants and bars. Fashion brand shops, let alone luxury brands, were not aggressively pursued as tenants.

These moves seem to indicate that the proprietor put more weight on attracting a lot of people, and largely disregarded profits.

Let’s have a closer look. The first basement floor is an underground arcade lined with shops, casual cafes and bars, with a direct connection to the Hibiya subway station. Particularly notable on this floor is Hibiya Food Hall, which features eight eateries, including a grill, a bakery and an oyster bar.

To the right of the main entrance on the first floor is the first Japanese branch of Buvette, popular in New York as a small-town restaurant with an excellent lineup of home cooking, such as ratatouille and tarte tatin. I’m sure many people will come back to try breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant.

To the left of the entrance is a Lexus showroom with an affiliated cafe and variety store. Next to them is the Isetan Mirror luxury cosmetic shop. There are several fashion and apparel shops along corridors surrounding the three-story open space. One standout is the Pellico shoe shop, whose pumps are made in Italy and priced at around ¥50,000 per pair. Pellico is very popular among female office workers.

The North Face, A.P.C. and other brand shops as well as the cosmetic shop THREE are on the second floor, where there are more restaurants than apparel shops.

Interior goods and sundries are the main items sold on the third floor, which also houses Hibiya Central Market. This 780-square-meter section, filled with a nostalgic air evocative of the Showa era (1926-89), was jointly designed by the major book and stationery company Yurindo and branding designer Takayuki Minami.

It’s like a small town complete with a bookshop, barber, izakaya pub, optician and event space. If you have time, you can enjoy yourself there for half a day. I was amazed by this place, which must have been designed without any thought of profit at all.

The fourth and fifth floors are the 13-screen cinema complex Toho Cinemas Hibiya. The operator hopes visitors as well as those working in the building will enjoy watching films on the brand-new screens.

Tokyo Midtown Hibiya’s revenue goal for the first fiscal year is ¥13 billion, including the earnings from the cinema complex. This is about half the amount needed to break even, which surprised me — and a major realty company employee who came to see the place in a preview.

How will the operator recover the total project cost, which is said to be about ¥250 billion? The operator thinks that the rents from the offices on the 10th to the 35th floors will cover it. Thanks to the complex’s good traffic access and an excellent view over Hibiya Park, the office floors are almost full despite the high monthly rent of ¥50,000 to ¥60,000 per tsubo (about 3.3 square meters).

To secure lunch for its employee population and enrich their time after work, the complex needs cinemas as well as restaurants and bars that are tip-top in both quality and quantity.

Tokyo Midtown Hibiya seems to be saying: “Please go to Ginza to shop. We’ve created a cozy town for the workforce in Hibiya.”

Miura is the editor at large of WWD Japan.Speech

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