• SHARE

Combining a huge cinema complex, a membership wholesale warehouse and a number of specialty shops and restaurants, an American-style megamall — the largest in Japan — will open Friday in a suburb of Fukuoka.

With 10 big stores and some 130 specialty shops, Torius Mega Mall offers “any product you can imagine, from food to pets to auto parts to sports,” said Seth Sulkin, president of Pacifica Corp. of Washington.

Torius Mega Mall, designed by Japan’s independent developer Torious Inc., is built on green, hilly farmland in Hisayama, with free parking space for 4,500 cars, Sulkin said in Tokyo Thursday.

Apart from being big, the size of five Tokyo Domes, Torius offers a new lifestyle for Japanese suburbanites and a new tip for city planning. “For the people living out there, in Hisayama or in the Fukuoka area, what this represents is a tremendous opportunity for them to increase the quality of their everyday life,” said Mark Yamamoto, president of Virgin Cinemas Japan Ltd., one of the key tenants.

The Virgin Cinema complex houses 14 screens with a total of 2,800 seats, as well as cafes and movie-related goods stores. All seats are reserved at airline-style ticket counters so there will be no standing or rushing to get seats, Yamamoto said.

Another key tenant is Costco Wholesale Japan, a unit of Costco Companies, Inc. of the United States. It is a wholesale membership warehouse that offers various top-brand merchandise at discount prices for small-business owners and individual customers.

Mike Sinegal, representative director of Costco Wholesale Japan, said 90 percent of the products at the Costco store will be Japanese merchandise rather than imported products. “We want to sell to the Japanese people,” he said. “We don’t want to be here as an American museum full of American products nobody wants to buy.”

In developing the mall, the city of Hisayama was very supportive from the beginning, as there had been virtually no development in the past 20 years, Sulkin of Pacifica explained. “You can’t let a city do nothing for 20 years,” Sulkin said. “You have to have employment, you have to have new construction, you have to have something to let the city breathe.”

Kicking off in Fukuoka, Torious has an aggressive goal to open 10 megamalls throughout Japan — in the suburbs of Tokyo, Osaka, in Hokkaido and in other parts of Kyushu — by 2010.

Coronavirus banner