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Thread: What is "Marugen" ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002

    Question What is "Marugen" ?

    Does anybody know what the "Marugen" signs on so many buildings in Tokyo mean ? The signs are always the same, with the kanji (gen) inside a circle (maru), then athe name in romaji and a number. There are a few Marugen between Ginza and Shimbashi, in Akasaka and other places in Tokyo.

    I've taken this picture in Akasaka. Marugen could be the owner or builder name. I don't think it's a company. I've asked my wife and other people but nobody knows.
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  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 23, 2003

    Smile marugen-biru

    I don't know about it precisely, but it (marugen-biru) must be a kind of real estate company and has many buildings all though Japan. I don't know what type the company is, Inc. , private company...?

    Do you know "Mori-biru", the biggest real estate company in Japan? It is famous for developping of "Roppongi-hills" recently. It has also quite a lot of buildings, and the buildings are called "mori-biru", for example, mori-biru the 1st... mori-biru the 41th...and so on.

    The buisiness scale is different, but the method is simillar between "marugen-biru" and "mori-biru".

    My explanation is a little poor. I hope you can understand above.

    note: "biru" means "building"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 27, 2003

    Gensiro Kawamoto


    I thought I would formally respond to your question here, as others might also want to know the answer.

    As you know, the word "Maru" means "circle" in Japanese and "Gen" stands for "Gensiro Kawamoto," a Japanese billionaire who has made his fortune in real estate and owns 57 buildings in Tokyo's Ginza, Akasaka, and Roppongi entertainment districts. In 1987, the Japan Economic Journal called Kawamoto the sixth richest man in Japan. His worth was last estimated at $2.7 billion, and the most amazing thing is that he is a debt-free billionaire, preferring to make most of his transactions in cash. He was once quoted in the Hawaii newspapers as saying that he considers $85 million "pocket change." (I wish my pocket change was like that!) I know of Gensiro Kawamoto because he used to be my landlord here in California for six years. The following is summarized from some of the newspaper accounts of Kawamoto:

    Kawamoto, dubbed "the King of Ginza Real Estate," was born on March 1, 1932, in the Fukuoka Prefecture and raised in Kyushu in southern Japan. Kawamoto audited his freshman year at Tokyo's prestigious Keio University, then dropped out to take over the family kimono business back in Kyushu. The company expanded into Western fashion, but as general merchandise chain stores flourished in the late 1950s, Kawamoto abandoned apparel to concentrate on the more lucrative field of real estate, first in Kyushu, then, starting in 1972, in Japan's capital.

    Kawamoto, president of Marugen Co., first registered on the national radar in 1987, when Japan's inflated asset prices created dozens of land and stock billionaires. Kawamoto's shrewd deal making saved him from the fate of many other Japanese investors in U.S. real estate. "Everyone else was buying hotels and golf courses. And everyone else failed," he said in the phone interview. "No one else bought rental houses (like me.)" Indeed, the Japanese edition of Forbes magazine has continued to feature him in its annual rich man's roundup, most recently, in an article called "Super Billionaire."

    Kawamoto owned 800 properties in Hawaii (Oahu and Maui) and California, which he sold last year, and he currently owns 3,500 properties in Tokyo and the southern island of Kyushu, his birthplace. His property in Japan is commercial, not residential. His sgnature properties are the red-and-green-neon Marugen buildings in Tokyo, clustered in the city's most popular nighttime playgrounds: Ginza, Japan's Fifth Avenue; Akasaka, which is favored by politicians; the Roppongi nightclub area, and Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho, a Times Square-like district known for its yakuza, or mobsters, as well as its massage parlors. Called "Marugen 24," "Marugen 21" and so on, (Gen is the first character of Kawamoto's given name, surrounded by a circle, or "maru") his low-rise buildings are honeycombs of nightlife, crammed with dozens of tiny cabarets, restaurants and bars, with fanciful names like "Gare de St. Lyon," "Madonna" and "Shangri-la."

    He scrupulously pays for most transactions in cash, leaving no public sign of his intentions or obligations.

    A dapper man who rarely sits down for face-to-face interviews, Kawamoto portrays himself as a workaholic who gets by on four hours' sleep and has few pleasures to divert him from his singular passion, the art of the deal. "It's all a game for me," he said.

    Once a week, instead of sleeping, he drives out to his 300,000-square-foot villa in Atami, a hot-spring resort area southwest of Tokyo. The lifelong bachelor has no heirs and says that after he dies his assets will be used to set up a foundation, "which could offer dreams and other romantic feelings to the young."


    Last edited by Satori; Nov 29, 2003 at 00:47.

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