The Ubiquitous Legend – The Tokyu Group

3/ The Tokyu Group

The Tokyu group is a large private enterprise started off as Musashi Electric Railway in 1908, outlived railway nationalization as a railway division of the Den-en Toshi Corporation, it then merges with the Megoru-Kamata Dentetsu and some other railways, finally become the Tokyu Corporation in 1942 and continued development with the strategy of conglomeration [1]. Owning pieces of land in Den-en Chofu area. The Tokyu Group is a real estate company providing railway services, is it also the first company to apply master planning along its rail lines.

I. Retail

The Tokyu Group owns multiple branches of retail shops including the Tokyu Department Store and the Tokyu Hands living ware store. Tokyu Department Store has branches located along 4 stations of Tokyu Railway, while the Tokyu Hands Department Store has up to 49 stores along Tokyu rail lines and tourist spots. The Tokyu Group has even extended its Department Store business world wide to set up branches in Thailand. From which we can see how retailing has successfully promoted the brand of Tokyu.

II. Real Estate

Owning Tokyu Land and Tokyu Livable, The Tokyu Group also handles local property transactions. As with the land around stations, Tokyu Land Department has several rental apartments connected to the railway. The Group also promotes their business in other Asian cities. 

III. Education

The Tokyu Group owns the Gotch Educational Corporation which manages Tokyo City University and high schools. It was the first attempt of a rail integrated community created by Tokyu Group – attracting educational institutions to be located along Tokyu rail lines. The large corporation is capable of offering land at low rates to institutes so that they can build campuses at intermediate stations along rail lines [2]. This is a mutually beneficial deal, also allowing the Tokyu Group to train specialists and headhunt for talents. Besides schools, Tokyu Group also manages museums.

IV. Services

The Tokyu Group owns a hospital namely the Tokyu Hospital which locates right above the Ookayama Station of Tokyu Railway. It is a hospital set up for employees and their families of the Tokyu Group as well as the residents in the nearby area and along the railway [3]. The Tokyu Bus is also another large scale service provided by the Tokyu Group linking up stations and areas without railways. By supplying daily needed services, the Tokyu Group has become inevitable(inescapable) for the Tokyo citizens. 

“Our hospital was opened in 1953 as an open corporate hospital near Ookayama Station in order to foster the health of Tokyu Group employees, their families, and residents along the railway lines.”
– Director of Tokyu Hospital


From these we can see how the Tokyu group has put much effort in their branding to both the citizens and their employees, and by diversifying their business sectors, they have successfully invaded various markets in Tokyo. The railway nationalization acts have facilitated the growth of these private railway companies, forcing them to expand their business so as to avoid the decline of it[4]. It also created the opportunities for private railway companies to alter the city centers and station cores with multi-level department stores along most metro lines. The Tokyu Group has set a role model for the latter development of other railway companies. Railway business in Tokyo is not only about trains, it is also a service and a brand. Just like the Tokyu Hospital above Tokyu Railway, such well-designed as hospital different from the conventional or government owned ones, serving as a brand and image of the corporation. This is the way to avoid the decline of railway like the JNR and become a fully self sufficient urban manager.

Tokyu Hospital  (Image Credit: Yanai Takahiro)



[1] Kato, Shinichi. Development of large cities and progress in railway transportation. Japan Railway & Transport Review. (September 1996):44–48.

[2] Calimente, John. “Rail Integrated Communities in Tokyo.” Journal of Transport and Land Use 5, no. 1 (2012): 19, 23-24.

[3] Tokudome, Goro. Hospital Overview. Tokyu Corporation. Accessed in December 14,2020.

[4] Calimente, John. “Rail Integrated Communities in Tokyo.” Journal of Transport and Land Use 5, no. 1 (2012): 24-25.






2 Comments on “The Ubiquitous Legend – The Tokyu Group

  1. This is a very succinct but insightful biography of the Tokyu Group, which actually renders the particular urbanism shaped by the development of railway network in Japan. It is surprising to see the railway company has built up such a robust portfolio including nearly every critical aspect of everyday life. If we take a step closer to its real estate developments, I’m curious about how Tokyu acquired the land ownership to develop different facilities. How has its railway business facilitated/influenced the group’s capacity to develop large scale urban projects?

  2. It is quite intriguing to study the expansion of a local railway company to a gigantic conglomerate as the knowhow, resources, human capital required in so distinct among various industries. In addition, for a conglomerate to thrive, each business (in different industries) it owns need to have a large degree of synergy such that the conglomerate can grow effectively and efficiently in lieu of resulting in cost inefficiency and diseconomies of scale. Henceforth, it will be inspiring to know Tokyu Group’s journey of expansion and know its rationale for each expansion.

    Personally, without any prior knowledge in the company’s background, I postulate that the expansions are enabled owing to the strategic importance of railway (maybe also due to the monopoly of the Group, which is another compelling field to study), that allow the Group to reap much profit and support their growth. Furthermore, they can easily place architectures in other businesses (e.g. hospital, educational institutions) along their railway, which make them much more attractive when compared to their competitors in their respective fields.

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