Monday, April 5, 2010

Venus Fort at Odaiba

OK, so back in 2000 I was giving a talk on trends in the Asian shopping experience. As part of the research, I came across a Japanese mall in Tokyo called "Venus Fort", which was the first mall in the world to be dedicated to a narrow-cast target audience. In this case, all women.

So on this trip, I really wanted to see it for myself. I figured Amelia would like to see this as well, as she's kind of a mall rat. The place is akin to the size of a very large US shopping mall the exception that it has forty foot ceilings and is decked out in enough faux Italianate architecture to make the Venetian in Las Vegas blush. To get a sense of the size, you can see the pdf of the floor plan here. The bottom floor is "Venus Fort Family" with family goods, while the upper two floors are "Venus Fort Grand", with very high end clothiers. So you walk in to the Grand floor, and are immediately blown away by this massively scaled Italian city scape. To top things off, the ceiling cycles in between dawn & dusk every couple of hours. Yes. It's way, way, over the top. See more photos here.

So we walked around & browsed in the shops. There was an amazing pet store with miniature dogs (note: mini does not mean cheap; the most expensive was around $5,500). Thought we'd lost Amelia there, as the dogs were just too cute. There were a world of clothiers; American, European, Japanese. We ended up eating pasta dishes in the piazza (indoor al fresco, anyone?).

Off to the side, there's a car museum run by Toyota called "History Garage", where they store many of their key acquisitions of great cars from around the world. Very cool. Presumably, this is a place to go for the men while the ladies shop. Forrest & I were pretty pumped. Each of the cars had it's own personal movie showing in the background, giving cultural context via impressionistically edited film footage. Then they got me. Just as I was exiting, they had one a tri-wheeled Messerschmitt KR 175, which is very high on my personal lust list.

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