Nakamise Dori is one of the most bustling shopping streets in Tokyo, with throngs of people making it hard to move along the narrow walkway on the weekends. Photo: Flickr/sk

Asakusa’s Sensoji temple shocks store owners with sudden 16-fold rent increase in shopping arcade

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district is one of the top tourist sites in the country, drawing thousands of tourists to the area every year. If you’ve ever visited Sensoji, chances are you’ve entered through the Kaminarimon “Thunder Gate” with the enormous red lantern hanging inside, before walking up the bustling walkway lined with shops that leads to the main temple building.

This shopping street, located inside the temple grounds, is known as Nakamise Dori (literally “street of inside stores”), and it’s one of the oldest shopping strips in Japan. Today, approximately 89 shops can be found along the 250-metre (820-foot) long approach to the temple, selling all sorts of Japanese souvenirs and traditional food and confectioneries.

Despite the steady stream of customers along the approach, shopkeepers are now concerned about their future, after Sensoji sent out a notice to business owners advising them of a 16-fold increase in their rent. According to one shopkeeper, he was made aware of the sudden change in September, when each store along Nakamise Dori was given two sheets of paper to inform them that the rent would be increased by 16 times from next January. He says he won’t be able to pay the rent after such an increase and nor will many of the other store owners.

The reason for the increase appears to be due to the fact that the storeholders had previously been paying rent to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, because although the land that Nakamise Dori is situated on is owned by Sensoji temple, the buildings on the land belong to Tokyo. However, in July, Sensoji bought the buildings on the land from Tokyo, which is why the incredibly cheap current average monthly rent of 23,000 yen will soon shoot up to 370,000 yen.

According to the head steward of Sensoji, the impetus for the change stems from the fact that in 2011, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government asked them to pay fixed assets tax, as Nakamise Dori was acting as a profitable business. Therefore, they investigated the market prices to adjust the rent accordingly, with lawyers providing them with a recommended amount in the middle of September, which was then sent out to shopkeepers.

People online have been expressing shock and confusion over the news:

“I’m astonished that the rent at that place has been just 2,300 yen per month.”

“What type of system is this? It sounds like a method for money laundering.”

“Can they really take that much tax from a religious organisation?”

“It sounds like Sensoji had no other choice than to increase the rent, given the circumstances.”

“If the shopkeepers can’t afford the new rent, I’m sure they’ll have no problems finding new tenants.”

Commenters speculate that if the store owners refuse to pay the increased rent, big chains like Starbucks might enter and open up businesses along the shopping strip, which would bring huge changes to the traditional atmosphere of the historical district. Hopefully the current store owners will be able to keep their businesses running so that visitors can enjoy their wares for decades to come.

Source: Yahoo News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kanazawa’s historic “ninja temple” is packed full of hidden rooms, pitfalls, and more

-- Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

-- Japanese dessert lovers go crazy for crème brûlée crêpes at new Harajuku crêperie

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It'll be interesting to see which stores decide that paying 370,000 yen is worth staying put. I'd like the stores to stay but the new rent is ridiculous. Guess Nakamise Dori will be gone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rent was too low for decades, price per sqm didn't reflect the real value of it.

New rents would be more in line what your average Shop/Restaurants pays.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

DAMN, my first reaction was those SOBs jacking rent up 16X!!!!

THEN I read average rent was only Y23,000/month..... DOUBLE DAMN those stores have been living as parasites of the city & the temple for lord know how long, talk about a  SUBSIDY!!!

I don't know if 16x is appropriate but clearly these shops need to pay more MUCH more for those bits of shop space!!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It will end up full of mobile phone shops and coffee shops, just like everywhere else.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Giving them two-three months notice hardly seems fair. Is it legal to do this with so little warning? I suppose it must be...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Since the 370,000 amount is in the range of what a non-Japanese pays monthly for a fully furnished apartment in parts of Tokyo, the new price doesn't surprise me. The old price shocks me.

However, if a temple is interested in working with and protecting its tenants, short notice on a few pieces of paper doesn't cut it. There ought to have been meetings (I know, I know, that's a beverage-spurting suggestion) to provide information, engage in discussion centered on opportunities for problem solving, and a timeline that might ease the merchants into the new reality.

This method leaves one wondering whether there is a hidden agenda for that strip. It is a charming arcade--an icon--though I much prefer to enter the temple from the neighborhood behind it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

SHOCK NEWS; Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been flushing money down the drain for decades.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Again,shortsighted thinking to suddenly increase rents without consultation and incremental increases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rents were way below average, how much does a sqm in Shinjuku, ginza etc go for? More like 2-3man.

We are talking way more than what new rates would cost a current shop. I am

Sure there will be an impact/adjustment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those guys/gals benefited from cheap rents, selling cheap overpriced goods to tourists.

Sure they were reluctant on rental increases as there would be no other location in Japan offering such a sweet deal?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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