On a recent weekday morning, the Sogo department store in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, is unusually crowded with shoppers flocking to a closing down sale before it shuts its doors for good on Friday.

Many stop to take pictures of a sign at the entrance displaying the number of days remaining for the 43-year-old department store that opened in front of JR Kashiwa Station in October 1973 as "a castle-like department store in a greenery town."

"It was indeed a dream castle for me," said Masakazu Ochiai, 38, a Kashiwa-based marketing consultant who has been a devoted fan of the store throughout his life.