Ari & Rio, mall mascots
Kurashiki City is quickly becoming the
shopping destination for western Japan. The Ario shopping center opened today at the location of what was previously Tivoli Park. On the North side of, and immediately accessible from Kurashiki Station, the mall holds 122 shops including 68 new to Okayama prefecture. Flanked by the city's Mirai Park and the soon to be opened Mitsui Outlet Mall (housing a further 120 stores), the combination is expected to be a draw card for shoppers from all over western Japan with visitors to Kurashiki increasing from 6 million to 20 million. 1500 shoppers were queued outside for the 9a.m opening this morning.
The opening of the new mall follows closely on the heels of the expansion of the nearby Aeon Kurashiki Shopping Center. Aeon Kurashiki increased its shopping space to 82,000m in September this year becoming the largest Mall in the Chugoku / Shikoku region. These, the first major renovations since opening in 1999, added 96 new stores including 18 brands new to the region. Correspondingly, the mall expects the existing patronage of 15 million shoppers per year to increase to 20 million.