Wednesday, 13 July 2011

"Ekinaka", Fast-growing Railway Business in Japan

"Ekinaka" shopping mall on the first basement level, Tokyo Station, JR East

If you are a Japanese working person who spends a long time railway commuting, where do you go shopping after office hours? Do you want to go to a department store near a huge terminal station? “No”, because it takes time to get there. So, do you want to stop by a small shop near your exit station in the suburbs? Probably “No” again, because it doesn’t have a good selection of products. The best solution is to visit an “Ekinaka” shopping mall.

“Ekinaka” means “inside a station” in Japanese. To be more exact, it’s the area inside the ticket gates. For the last several years in the Tokyo metropolitan area, a number of Ekinaka shopping malls have been opened. In the malls, we can see many kinds of sophisticated shops and restaurants, such as sweet cafe stands, liquor shops, Italian restaurants, variety shops, bakeries, bookshops, fashion boutiques, facial massage shops and so on.

For example in Tokyo Station, more than 1.1 million passengers per day get on and off the trains there. In addition, many passengers change trains there. So these people create a huge business opportunity there.

Ten years ago, people were thinking that Ekinaka areas were not suitable for shopping malls, because the customers are limited to railway passengers. In other words, railway companies considered that shopping malls should be constructed outside the ticket gates, because non-railway passengers could also visit them.

But today, times have changed. Ekinaka is a fast-growing railway business in Japan.

"Ekinaka" food mall on the ground floor level, Tokyo Station, JR East

More information about Ekinaka shopping mall in Tokyo Station (in Japanese):