Many of Japan’s old shopping streets, called shotengai, may have fallen prey to the rise of supermarkets and chain stores, but that does not mean that the future is necessarily grim for all.
Yanaka Ginza is an example of one shotengai that is thriving against the odds. Its retro charm is drawing a younger demographic to its small independent shops, peddling everything from tea and homeware to traditional clothing and red bean sweets. The popularity of the anime series set here called Yuyake Dandan, centering on a young girl and her feline companion, has also spurred locals to create photogenic spaces for the resident stray cats to loiter.
Pay a visit during the summer festival in early August, though, and you will discover the important role that shotengai like this one have in bringing the community together too.
Yanaka Ginza is a short walk from Nippori Station, roughly 15 minutes on the JR Yamanote Line from Tokyo Station.