• Japan In Focus

‘Kitchen of Fujisawa’ Shopping Building Invokes Japan’s Showa Era

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The building can be entered from the basement, first and second floors.

FUJISAWA, Kanagawa — The Fujisawa Meiten Building, which nestles among the commercial facilities around Fujisawa Station’s south exit, is steeped in history.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A train on the Tokaido Line is seen from the coffee shop on the first floor of the building.

Sporting brown tiles and banners displaying the names of food shops and other tenants, the seven-story building in Kanagawa Prefecture has been also known as “the Kitchen of Fujisawa” since its establishment in 1965.

The word “meiten” — meaning well-established shops — reflects the concept of notable Tokyo and Yokohama stores also being available in Fujisawa.

At launch, the building is said to have housed about 70 stores, including confectionery maker Fujiya Co. and Bunmeido, known for its castella cakes, in addition to a rooftop Ferris wheel.

Two buildings built on adjacent land were later connected to the Fujisawa Meiten building, giving rise to the current maze-like shopping facility.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The building is home to a wide variety of unique stores.

The building’s low-ceilinged mezzanine between the first and second floors is said to have been constructed to house more tenants.

In the food store-lined basement, a staffer of Shonan Uotsuru, a fishmonger that has been operating since the facility opened, was loudly promoting sardines and horse mackerel.

The atmosphere is redolent of a Showa-era (1926-89) shopping street.

“I want to continue selling fish in an interesting way, while keeping the old-fashioned space and incorporating the trends of the times,” said Ichiro Iwata, 53, a Shonan Uotsuru executive. The basement floor is often busiest around 10 a.m., when the food shops open.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People shop at the Shonan Uotsuru fish shop in the Fujisawa Meiten Building.

Kiyoshi Ishita, 70, who manages the building’s office, said, “The best thing about this facility is that it houses stores with strong characteristics, including an eel restaurant that closes on the Day of the Ox,” the day when grilled unagi eel is traditionally eaten.

He also said, “Another reason for its popularity is that people can just drop by in sandals [and other casual wear].”

The beloved building is set to be demolished and rebuilt, with the shops inside to close in 2026. Yet another Showa era building will disappear from the landscape.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fujisawa Meiten Building

Address: 2-1-1 Minami-Fujisawa, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture

Access: Directly connected to Fujisawa Station on the JR, Odakyu and Enoshima railway lines.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.