Mitsui, an old Japanese family, was first known for its many generations of samurai. Around the year 1600, the head of the family, Sokubei Mitsui, opened in Matsuzaka, a city located in Mie Prefecture, a store called Echigoya, selling miso. There, he also opened a pawnshop and in 1636 the family extended the business by opening a clothing store in Edo. In 1673, one of his sons, Mitsui Takatoshi, opened a kimono shop (gofukuya) in Nihonbashi - and this was the beginning of the well known department stores chain Mitsukoshi.
In time the business diversified and in 1876 a pawnshop and a currency exchange formed the Mitsui Bank, Japan’s first private bank - the start of one of the 4 Japanese zaibatsu, Mitsui. The Mitsui Company was established in 1924 and by 1941 its real estate division was separated, becoming Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd, Japan’s largest real estate developer.
Today, besides many important buildings, Mitsui Fudosan owns the tallest skyscraper in Tokyo, Midtown Tower, located in Roppongi, Minato. Finished in 2007, the Midtown Tower is 248.1 meters tall:
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Yesterday’s Japan Photo: