Explorer’s visit to ISETAN, The Japan Store, 3rd September, 2018
What a surprise that twenty one Explorer’s signed up to visit a department store, right here in the heart of Kuala Lumpur! As the organiser I had my doubts whether people would be interested but it turned out to be a very informative and interesting morning.
We met outside Isetan, The Japan Store, in J. Sultan Ismail right on opening time at 11.00 am so as to not disturb shoppers at the store. Mr Suzuki, the head of Marketing and assistant Ms Yong greeted us and then proceeded to show us various aspects of the design of the Store floor by floor. At the food court lower level, for example, the design is based on the concept of “ripples in a pond” with centre pieces decorated with beautiful hand blown glasses where diners sit. There are various delicious looking offerings all meticulously presented. There are many different types of food prepared here for the huge crowds that come in at lunch time ranging from fresh fish from Japan, meat which you can choose and have cooked to your liking, teppanyaki style, sushi, sashimi and much more. There is a special area set aside for sake tasting. We were shown sake made from plums and there were even bottles of wine or sake worth up to 2000RM! Of course, there are also delicious sweets and the Store’s famous cheesecake.
The ground floor entry is very important and is designed like a tree with branches fanning out as you ascend up through the floors. White cocoa (Naguta) chocolates are a specialty and are exclusive items to Isetan. Who knew that Isetan bought the root and produces the chocolate itself with packaging targeted to a Malaysian audience! Also did you know there is a VIP room where high roller shoppers get treated to green tea and kimono whilst buying?
We were able to view fashion from famous Japanese designers and also test out various pillow widths/mattresses in the specially designed “Sleep room”. For book lovers there are some fantastic books on display and for sale as well as some nice cafes and quiet areas for reading and a book nook. You can have your nails manicured while getting your hair done with organic products at the hair dresser.
After visiting all the floors we were then treated to tea and traditional cookie in the meeting room. Mr Suzuki described the long history of Isetan which started as a kimono shop in 1886 in Tokyo where it obtained a high reputation for selling fashionable kimono designs and obi sashes! After successful years in Tokyo as a department store it branched out in 1972, opening its first overseas store in Singapore and was among one of the first Japanese retail groups to enter the Asian market. With continuing expansion plans, Isetan has gradually established its business in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and China. We were also shown how the staff are taught to fold their right hand over the left when standing and to bow to customers entering the Store.
Isetan has had a long history in Malaysia and especially at Lot 10 which it owns, building its first store in 1990. It built its flagship store The Japan Store right here at Lot 10 in KL and will celebrate its second anniversary next week. A range of workshops and events are planned so do go along and have a look. https://www.isetankl.com.my/thejapanstore/
After the tour sixteen Explorers’ had lunch at The Tokyo Restaurant which is one of the many Japanese restaurants on the 4th floor. Go ahead and try them. Delicious Japanese food prepared by Japanese chefs and the sushi chef has a Michelin star.
Thanks to the staff of Isetan who warmly greeted our group and special thanks to Mr Suzuki and Ms Yong for their time.