Where Daimaru, Hong Kong’s first Japanese Department store, once was
From soybeans to fashion
What is now local hipster destination Fashion Walk was for many years a popular Japanese department store, and long before that, a soybean warehouse. Until the 1950s, Hong Kong’s popular Vitasoy milk was made right here, until the company moved to a new purpose-built modern factory in Wong Chuk Hang.
When Daimaru opened its doors during the wintery month of November 1960, 4,000 guests attended the cocktail party to celebrate the occasion. The Japanese department store’s first overseas venture revolutionised Hong Kong's retail landscape. SCMP reported: “The store is ultra-modern and streamlined. The goods are attractively displayed on well-spaced counters and soft music provides a constant background”.
Japanese customer service
The store employed 400 local shop workers who were trained in Japanese etiquette by the 15 Japanese managers who supervised them. The high level of customer service was Daimaru’s hallmark, and all of the other Japanese department stores that opened in Hong Kong followed Daimaru's example. Locals flocked here for toys, trendy clothes and fancy home appliances such as rice cookers and television sets. Rising rents meant that the family-friendly emporium couldn’t survive, just like the other Japanese-owned stores. Daimaru closed in 1998.
What’s in a name?
For many years, Daimaru was synonymous with Causeway Bay. Daimaru, or its Cantonese name, 'Daai Yun', was even adopted as the name for the minibus terminal in Causeway Bay. Even though the department store has long gone, the name has stuck around. Its fiery red neon light signage on top of Great George Building has also become a landmark for the area.