After more than three centuries in business, the Onuma department store in Yamagata began bankruptcy proceedings this year — one of many distinguished department stores across the country in dire straits.

Known for fancy food halls, luxury items, impeccable service and, in their heyday, rooftop attractions to entertain families, Japan's department stores have been in a long slow decline as shopping habits change.

Now the coronavirus pandemic, just as it has forced U.S. retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus into bankruptcy, is hammering nails into coffins for some — particularly those in regional areas.