大阪の大丸デパート Daimaru Department Store in Osaka

The Daimaru chain of department stores are principally located in Kansai, although they may be found within other regions of Japan and also in other parts of the world (interestingly, there used to be a Daimaru in Melbourne, Australia, but it has since changed hands).

The Daimaru store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka in which the following recording was made is an iconic modernist landmark of the city, dating back to the 1920s. The department store is an important symbol of modernity dating back to the late Meiji Era, and the Shinsaibashi Daimaru Building embodies these discourses. The following recording, unlike the recording made at Isetan in Kyoto, was made in the upper floors of the department store where "modern" luxury items are sold (unlike the basement, which sells foodstuffs). This recording was made in the women's wear department.

The iconic Daimaru Building in Osaka's Shinsaibashi

In the background of the recording you can hear the hustle and bustle of the shoppers. The store was not overly busy, and indeed many department stores are facing a crisis as consumers increasingly choose to shop online, but the open plan design of the store allowed for the sounds of the (mostly female) shoppers to echo and reverberate throughout the space. In the first half of the recording you can hear the muffled announcement for a promotion in the women's wear department. Unlike the sellers of food in the Isetan department store, the lady speaking over the loudspeaker speaks in a clear and steady manner and utilises honorific forms and full sentences. After she has finished her announcement, the woman's voice is replaced by the sound of gentle muzak, most likely utilised in order to give the store a sense of refinement and taste. Towards the end of the recording, I am welcomed to the store (irasshaimase) by one of the female shop assistants.

Recording: Thomas Baudinette

Photo: Wikimedia, used under Creative Commons license

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