As part of a yearlong effort to try to drum up shopping and tourism in Tokyo and Manhattan, the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District is partnering with the Mitsubishi Estate, which manages Tokyo’s Marunouchi district.
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Both destinations will have cobranded events, customized tours and special shopping offers, as well as signage such as banners touting the alliance that are now on display uptown.
Madison Avenue BID president Matthew Bauer will be jetting off to Asia for next Tuesday’s official signing ceremony in Tokyo, which will include an Uchimizu ceremony, a Japanese ritual that involves sprinkling the sidewalk with water. Ceremonial robes and baskets used for the event will then be taken to New York for a similar ceremony Aug. 5.
Bauer, whose organization represents 450 businesses, said the initiative was not triggered by the recession. Noting the Madison Avenue BID has teamed with similar entities in London and Paris, he said, “We’ve long worked with other groups. We all benefit from tourism. Obviously, as a result of the recession it is more important to do more programs that will attract new clients.”
Jo Kato, chairman of the Marunouchi Merchants’ Association, said, “Marunouchi used to be known only as a center of business. However, the newly built Marunouchi Building has served as a catalyst, and the entire area in the heart of Tokyo has now become known for its exciting retail opportunity as well as being a center of commerce.”
Japanese shoppers got a taste of the Upper East Side shopping stretch last month through an exhibition that spotlighted Madison Avenue’s history and current development, which was displayed in the Marunouchi Building. Located in the center of Tokyo, Marunouchi covers nearly three million acres from the Imperial Palace to Tokyo Station. Hermès, Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co. and Coach are among the area’s boutiques. There are also 750 restaurants and cafes. One million visitors are said to frequent the area each day.
When Japan in late September celebrates its “Second Golden Week,” a series of national holidays that encourage travel, Madison Avenue retailers will offer free shipping, gifts with purchase and Japanese translators in their stores to encourage shopping, Bauer said.