Mitsukoshi Garden

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An overview of the water-based facilities at Mitsukoshi Garden from the top of the slide. Photo from Roots.sg.

The Mitsukoshi Garden was often referred to as the Big Splash of the West.[1] The 50,800-square-metre recreational complex[2] was located along Japanese Garden Road in Jurong. The entire complex was co-owned by Mitsukoshi Limited, the largest departmental store chain in Japan, Yamakuni Singapore Pte Ltd and a Singaporean lady by the name of Akiko Aw.[3][4] Akiko Aw was the wife of Aw It Haw, the ex-chairman of Haw Par Brothers (Private) Limited.

Origins

Mitsukoshi Garden had been built in two phases starting from January 1977. The site was the joint venture of three parties where Mitsukoshi owned 55% of shares, Yamakuni Singapore owned 35% and the businesswoman Akiko Aw owned 10%.[5][6] Based on a 1977 interview with the Assistant Manager of Yamakuni, the name and location of the aquatic centre had been decided based on the proximity of the Japanese Gardens.[7] It was reported that the paid-up capital amounted to $500,000.[8] Built at $10 million, the recreational complex was the product of the partnership between the Japanese company Mitsukoshi and Singaporean firm Jurong Water Sports Complex.[9]

Opening (1979)

The mini slides at Mitsukoshi Garden. Photo from National Archives Singapore.

The complex opened to the public on 20 April 1979[10] and was the second recreational water sports complex to operate in Singapore after the Big Splash aquatic centre at East Coast Park. In a newspaper report from January 1979, there were plans to invite a Japanese underwater ballet team to perform during the opening ceremony of Mitsukoshi Garden.[11] However, the opening turned out to be a humble affair which included a brief tree-planting ceremony.[12][13]

Reception

Mitsukoshi Garden was occasionally used for group functions such as company events. On 20 December 1979, Keppel shipyard Employees booked the venue for its 12th Anniversary family picnic event.[14] In July 1979, the Mitsukoshi Garden hosted the members of Singapore's Association for the Blind during White Cane Week. The complex was also the sponsor and the venue for the 1979 Miss Singapore/ Miss Young International Quest,[15] where a $2,000 over-water catwalk had been commissioned.


In August 1979, Mitsukoshi Garden was the chosen venue for Anita Sarawak's farewell performance before she left for the United States.[16] Anita Sarawak was a popular Singaporean performer at the time. Admission to her show at Mitsukoshi Garden cost $30 for adults and $25 for children. The prices included a buffet dinner. By 1980, Mitsukoshi Garden was frequented by grassroots committees such as Kim Seng Community Centre,[17] Ang Mo Kio Zone C Residents' Committee[18] and Tanjong Pagar Residents' Committee.[19]

Features

A view of the slides at Mitsukoshi Garden. Photo from Roots.sg.
Patrons at CN-West Leisure Park in 1985. Photo from National Archives Singapore.

Facilities and activities

Mitsukoshi Garden had a flow pool, children’s pool, wave pool, scuba pool and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The seven pools in Mitsukoshi Garden could reportedly hold 10,000 people at one time.[20] The complex also had a 16-metre tall, 5-lane water slide. The waterpark had other facilities such as four tennis courts, a golf green, a restaurant and bar lounge, function rooms, a tatami room and also fashion boutiques.[21] Individuals could sign up for the Mitsukoshi Silver Club at fees ranging from $200 - $2,500. The membership gave individuals exclusive access to various facilities in the compound.


In December 1979, it was advertised that Mitsukoshi Garden organised games such as Treasure Hunts, Bun-eating contests and swimming competitions every Sunday.[22] The public pool was also open for company and group functions in which the public pool would be restricted to the event-goers.

Admission details

In April 1979, it was reported that Mitsukoshi Garden opened from 10 am to 8 pm daily.[23] By December 1979, the garden was closed every Monday.[24]

Weekdays Weekends / Public Holidays
Children $1.00 $1.50
Adults $3.00 $4.00

Staff welfare

The staff members of Mitsukoshi Garden were given two complimentary tickets a month to the complex's facilities. Additionally, the workers were given fringe benefits including free tickets to other activities of leisure such as cable car rides under the staff welfare exchange scheme.[25]

Transfer of ownership (1983)

By June 1983, 4 years after its opening, the recreational complex was sold to West Overseas Co Pte Ltd, a Japanese restaurant chain in Kyushu, for $4.5 million.[26] The new owners invested $3 million on renovation works to add new facilities such as a gymnasium and more restaurants.[27] The complex reopened as the CN West Leisure Park on 16 September 1983. Despite the change in ownership, the 120 existing employees of Mitsukoshi Garden kept their jobs. Business went on as usual until the late 1980s. As of 2019, Mitsukoshi Garden and CN West Leisure Park no longer exists.

References / Citations

  1. A L Sundram. "Mitsukoshi Garden's 'under repair' story". Singapore Monitor. January 3, 1983. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  2. "Underwater ballet plan". New Nation. January 17, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  3. "Work starts again on $6m aquatic playground". New Nation. December 28, 1977. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  4. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. "Work starts again on $6m aquatic playground". New Nation. December 28, 1977. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. "Jurong's $10m sports complex". New Nation. April 19, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  7. "Work starts again on $6m aquatic playground". New Nation. December 28, 1977. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  8. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  9. "Underwater ballet plan". New Nation. January 17, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  10. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. "Underwater ballet plan". New Nation. January 17, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  12. "$10m leisure centre opened". The Straits Times. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  13. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  14. "Page 12 Advertisements Column 2". The Straits Times. December 20, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  15. "Page 5 Advertisements Column 1". The Straits Times. June 23, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  16. "Page 3 Advertisements Column 1". New Nation. July 28, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  17. "CC picnic". The Straits Times. May 1, 1980. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  18. "Outing". New Nation. November 26, 1980. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  19. "Mitsukoshi outing". The Straits Times. May 23, 1980. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  20. "Council to prevent overcrowding in pools". The Straits Times. December 22, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  21. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  22. "Page 3 Advertisements Column 2". The Straits Times. December 6, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  23. "You can now visit Mitsukoshi Garden". BUSINESS TIMES. April 21, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  24. "Page 12 Advertisements Column 2". The Straits Times. December 20, 1979. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  25. "Firm starts exchange of complimentary tickets". The Straits Times. March 19, 1982. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  26. Khng Eu Meng. "Mitsukoshi Garden sold for $4.5 m". The Straits Times. June 2, 1983. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  27. Khng Eu Meng. "Mitsukoshi Garden sold for $4.5 m". The Straits Times. June 2, 1983. Accessed on 26 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.