Microsoft prepping Xbox store in Japan?

Three-story building with Xbox 360 logo under construction in Tokyo; no word on its purpose, but it should be ready in time for the console's launch.

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TOKYO--A mysterious construction site draped with a huge Xbox 360 logo has appeared on the streets of Tokyo. On Omotesando Road, just a few minutes away from the popular fashion district of Harajuku, Microsoft is erecting a new building that will apparently be used for some operation related to its next-generation gaming console. The structure is covered by a huge sheet imprinted with the overlapping green circles of the Xbox 360 logo on its front and side, which serves both as an advertisement and a shield to prevent pedestrians from peeking into the construction. By checking the building from the back, the entirety of the construction can be viewed, though there isn't much to see yet. The building looks to be three stories high, but only its outer framework is currently complete. There is about another two to three months of construction left, which should be just enough time to make it for the Japanese launch of the Xbox 360.

The building will be no small operation. Its construction permit showed that the structure has been declared a "specified construction work," which means that a minimum of 45 million yen ($410,000) is being spent on its creation. The project is under development by Code Five Corporation, a promotion firm located within walking distance of the Omotesando area. While rumors say that the building might be used as an Xbox 360 showroom or office, it's definitely too huge to be used for just a one-time promotion.

Microsoft may not just be eyeing Tokyo for some new digs. Last week, a report by the New York Post (registration required) claims the software giant may be eyeing some primo real estate in New York City's Times Square. While no contracts or leases have been signed, the space is rumored to be a company store in the vein of Apple's growing chain of retail outlets.

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