By Kim Taylor

Takashimaya, Japan’s most famous department store, is located in the very heart of midtown Manhattan’s gold shopping strip, nestled near the Trump Tower and Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street off of Central Park South. It’s everything its locale would suggest: elegant, upscale, impressive and offering far more than your average department store. Visitors immediately glean a sense of this upon entering when a gentleman in a butler’s suit carrying a silver tray offers a sample of hand cream. A small but luxurious flower store with outstanding arrangements is located on the bottom floor near the entrance, which also imparts a distinctive first impression. The décor in this petit Takashimaya is Japanese-Provence, meaning it’s as uncluttered, airy and wood-filled as traditional Japanese décor, but is also as relaxed, offbeat and white-washed in parts as sunny Provencal settings. Other locations include Paris, Kyoto, Taipei and Singapore, and the New York City store has a spa and tea room.

Everything in this store is well-selected and of the highest quality. In terms of products, whatever Takashimaya lacks in volume and space, it atones for in quality and uniqueness. Fragrance, clothing, gifts, baby items and flower arrangements are sprinkled throughout the store, which is a favorite of architectural minimalists.

You can’t go wrong with any fragrance you find at Takashimaya, as they are all fantastic. San Francisco’s Elizabeth W. is featured here, along with Hugo Purple, Carthusia Mediterraneo, Jean-Claude Ellena’s The Different Company, Il Profumo, Parfums DelRae, Diptyque, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, T. Takashimaya, Hiris, and many others of exquisite note. One of the most telling things about Takashimaya in terms of fragrance is that it is one of the select sponsors of Sniffapalooza, a get-together for a group of fragrance enthusiasts across the country who pride themselves on appreciating the finest fragrances in the world. It’s only fitting that they should head directly to Takashimaya as soon as they hit New York City in droves, with nostrils flared and wrists poised.

Takashimaya, 693 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022 1-800-753-2038

Originally published May 2006
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