Ekimise is a large shopping complex in the same building as Tobu Asakusa Station. Here you can find a great array of fashion, cosmetics, electronics, books, and groceries, plus gourmet dining facilities.
The building first opened in 1931 when it housed Asakusa Kaminarimon Station and the Matsuya Department Store. The station was renamed Asakusa Station in 1945, and the shopping complex was rebranded Ekimise in 2012 after a complete renovation of the building. The name “Ekimise” literally means “Station Shops” and is a reference to the lively Nakamise shopping street which leads up to nearby Sensoji Temple. Over the years the Ekimise building’s stately Neo-Renaissance architecture has made it one of Asakusa’s most popular landmarks.
The historic Matsuya Department Store still occupies the basement level, 1st floor, and 3rd floor of the Ekimise building. Other retail businesses occupy floors 4 to 7. The station itself occupies the front part of the ground floor and all of the second floor. Below is a more detailed guide to shopping and dining in the Ekimise building.
Souvenirs and Cosmetics
The first floor of the Ekimise buildings has a rich assortment of small shop counters selling cosmetics, accessories, traditional local confectionery products, and Western sweets. Among the unique souvenir sweets and snacks you can pick up here are Toraya yokan jellies, Asakusa macarons, Haikara sweet potato rolls, and Asakusa Shameido rice crackers.
Fashion & Clothing
Ladies’ fashion can be found on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors and menswear on the 5th. Highlights on the 3rd floor are the Wacoal, Italiya, Untitled, and Leilian brands. There is also a branch of Uniqlo on this floor.
The 4th floor has a traditional kimono store, a Luxina import store, a nail salon, an Ojico t-shirt shop, and a kids’ play area.
On the 5th floor there is a Suits Select shop for men, a branch of ABC Mart for cheap sneakers, a Jins sunglasses store, and a Copo socks and stockings shop. Other highlights on the 5th floor are the Seria 100 yen store (Japan’s most stylish 100 yen shop) and the St-Marc Café which has particularly tasty chocolate croissants and is a good spot to take a break from shopping.
Nojima on the 6th floor sells all kinds of household electrical appliances, computers, smart phones, and audio-visual equipment. English and Chinese speaking staff are available here to help customers with their enquiries.
The Kumazawa Book Store on the 6th floor has an English language books section with a good selection of fiction as well as sightseeing guides for Tokyo and Japan, and guides to Japanese language and culture.
Tobu Tetsudo Gallery
Railway enthusiasts should look out for this gallery on the 5th floor which has a working railway diorama and huge selection of model trains for sale.
Ekimise’s restaurant area is on the 7th floor and here you can find a mouth-watering variety of Japanese and international flavors including sushi, noodles, tempura, Korean barbecue, hamburger steaks, Tianjin chicken and Peking duck.
The Basement Food Hall
The B1 basement level is a food hall which has a colorful mix of Japanese and international food and drink. Shop here for bento lunch boxes, onigiri rice balls, takeaway sushi, Japanese tea, and seafood rice bowls. Also on this floor is a bakery, a delicatessen, and a liquor store selling a large selection of wine, beer, spirits, and nihonshu rice wine.
From the basement you can directly access the subway Ginza Line at Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station.
The Rooftop Terrace
The Hare Terrace on the top of the Ekimise building boasts a superb view of Tokyo Skytree and the surrounding area. A variety of special events and promotions are held here throughout the year and from late May to early September there is a rooftop beer garden with a barbecue.
Services and Facilities
On the first floor the Matsuya Department Store there are a number of useful facilities which include an ATM machine that accepts most major foreign bank cards, and a foreign currency exchange machine. The currency exchange machine accepts eight currencies: US dollars, Euros, Chinese yuan, Korean won, Singapore dollars, Hong Kong dollars, New Taiwan Dollars, and Thai baht.
Matsuya Department Store also has a tax refund service for overseas visitors: if you spend more than 5,000 yen in one day at the Matsuya Department Store, you can claim back the 8% consumption tax. To claim back your tax you will need to take your purchased products and receipts to the 1st floor tax refund counter. You will also need to show your passport and your credit card if you used a credit card to make your purchase. Refunds are paid in cash and there is no service charge.
There are some exceptions to this system however. The Cocokara Fine pharmacy in the B1 basement level and the Uniqlo store on the 3rd floor both have their own separate tax refund system and will refund customers on the spot. Also, because floors 4 to 7 are not part of the Matsuya Department Store, they are not included in this system, so on those floors customers should enquire at each outlet about tax refunds.
Also on the first floor, Yamato Transport operate a delivery service and a luggage storage service. Here you can arrange to have your shopping or your luggage sent directly to your hotel or directly to the airport. Prices will vary according to the weight and size of your luggage. Luggage storage costs 500 yen for one item of luggage for one day. The Yamato Transport counter is open from 10.00 till 19.00.
Ekimise is directly connected to the Tobu Asakusa Station on the 1st and 2nd floors and to Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station on the B1 basement level. Toei Asakusa Station can be reached on foot in under 4 minutes. Here is a map of Ekimise’s location in Asakusa.
Ekimise is open seven days a week throughout the year, though it may close occasionally for store inspections.
Stores: 10.00 – 20.00
Restaurants: 11.00 – 22.00
A small number of stores operate separate business hours.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.