Seibu @ Wilshire and Fairfax

Doing a bit of research on Japanese retail history, I was shocked to come across some photos in a March 1962 issue of Time Magazine. The article documents the opening of a branch of Seibu department store on the miracle mile as follows:

Even in Los Angeles—the city of gala premières for everything from Hollywood spectaculars to hamburger stands—the “grand opening” last week of the U.S.’s first big Japanese-owned department store created quite a splash. Within 15 minutes after Seibu of Los Angeles unlocked its door, 5,000 shoppers were inside, women were fainting, policemen had to bar all entrances to slow down the rush and traffic was backed up for four blocks along Wilshire Boulevard. By day’s end Seibu’s clerks had been buffeted by 40,000 Angelenos, who bought $25,000 worth of merchandise ranging from obi cloth theater coats to men’s silk suits tailored in Japan to Ivy League specifications.

Apparently there was even a beer garden on the roof (natsukashii!). The photos were quite wonderful, though I didn’t catch any sights of fainting matrons, or the basement-level food halls known as depa chika, most sadly. The location is now occupied by the Peterson Auto Museum.

Exterior of the Seibu LA branch.

It only lasted two years, though. Seibu impresario Tsutsui was freed to up go create the retail revolution back in Tokyo, with its boutique shops, pioneering credit offers, and links with the new fads of copywriting and youth culture.