Gap Harajuku Closing After 10 Years

Say goodbye to Gap Harajuku. Say hello to…Gap Harajuku.

A month after opening their new flagship store directly opposite the Omotesando exit of Harajuku Station, Gap is closing their existing Meiji Dori flagship – a store that has been a Harajuku landmark since opening 10 years ago. To celebrate the move, Gap shoppers are enjoying up to 50% off during the store’s “Final Sale”. The sale ends (as does the store’s ten-year reign over the Omotesando-Meiji Dori corner) on January 3, 2010.

Thank You Harajuku

Why would the Gap choose to move to a different location in Harajuku when their existing location is so well known to anyone who has ever visited the area (or even to anyone who has seen it in the background of street fashion pictures, for that matter)? At first, you might guess that it all comes down to the first rule of real estate – location, location, location. Though the Meiji location was a great site for any shop – directly across from LaForet, and easily accessible to the shopping crowds coming from three major train/subway stations (Omotesando, Harajuku, and Meiji-Jingumae) – the new store is directly across the street from Harajuku Station. Besides the easy access, it also serves as a huge advertising billboard to the millions of people who pass by on the Yamanote Line each day.

But, the real explanation isn’t just about finding a better location. The reason that the old Gap shop is closing goes back to 1999, when all the tenants of the T’s Harajuku commercial complex building (including the Gap, Plaza, Pizza Express, and the Elephant Cafe) signed ten-year leases with the building’s owners. The leases expired this year, and Tokyu Land Corporation has plans for 2011 to replace the current building with a new urban commercial complex. Apparently, the T’s Harajuku building was only intended for a 10 year life cycle, so the redevelopment was all part of the original plan. Nothing stays the same in Tokyo!

Gap Harajuku in Better Times

Though we never did much shopping at the Gap, as HQ is in Harajuku we have enjoyed many a meal at that Pizza Express location (a branch of the British chain). We have also purchased many bags of random snacks (hello Nacho Cheesier Doritos!), cute kitchen utensils, make-up, nail polish, and other fun (and often useless) stuff from the Plaza store. We were saddened this week when we excitedly boarded the escalator – looking forward to purchasing a pair of multi-colored fluffy socks with large bunnies sewn onto them – only to find the shop dark and empty. The end of an era is at hand!

Plaza Harajuku Closed

We haven’t anything about when/if the Pizza Express and Elephant Cafe might be closing, or what shop(s) are planned for the next space that will occupy that location. We’ll keep an eye out and let you know more when we know more.

Gap Harajuku Closing

External link: Gap Japan Official Website.

Click any of the photos to enlarge them.

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