Goodbye. Shinjuku Alta.

Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood has just about the densest concentration of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, bars, and other entertainment options in the city. Shinjuku Station is also the busiest rail stop in the entire world, though, so if you’re rendezvousing with friends or a date, meeting inside the station is a pretty bad idea.

Instead, you’ll want to meet at one of the landmarks outside the station, and the most useful has been the Shinjuku Alta building. Immediately recognizable by its giant video screen, “in front of Alta,” or “Aruta mae” if you’re speaking Japanese, has been the go-to answer for “Where in Shinjuku should we meet?” for decades.

▼ Shinjuku Alta and the Alta Vision video billboard

It’s time to start scouting out new meeting places, though, because Shinjuku Alta’s days are numbered. The building’s management has posted a notice on its official website that Shinjuku Alta, which opened in 1979, is closing down.

The closure marks the end of the multi-level shopping center inside the building, which has long been a center of young women’s fashion trends, and also the Studio Alta television studio on the seventh floor, which famously served as the live-broadcast location for hit comedy variety show Waratte Iitomo from 1982 to 2014.

“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of our customers who have supported us over these many years, and to deeply apologize for the disruption and inconvenience the closing may cause,” while also thanking in advance those who will be visiting the building prior to its closure date, which will be February 28 of next year.

The announcement makes no mention of why Shinjuku Alta is closing, but shifting economic realities are the most likely cause. By contemporary Shinjuku standards, the Alta building is small, with the limited floorspace provided making each level a cramped collection of a handful of small tenants. With a number of new high-rise entertainment complexes and other redevelopments projects going on in Shinjuku, Alta has been increasingly overshadowed in recent years, and just like with the building that housed Tokyo’s most famous Starbucks slightly in the Shibuya area slightly to the south, it’s likely that Alta’s management feels the time has come for a large-scale renovation or rebuilding.

It’s unclear whether the closure means the current building will be torn down, but its prime location, right across the street from Shinjuku Station on the rail stop’s east side, means there’s zero chance of the land sitting empty. Whether what comes next will also carry the Alta name or will be an entirely separate entity remains to be seen, but the advance notice means there’s still time to squeeze in a few more in-front-of-Alta visits before it’s time to say goodbye to an iconic Tokyo landmark.

Source: Shinjuku Alta via Daily via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Kakidai
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s met up with him in front of Big Box over the years.