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Business is bad

51 Comments

A sign of Japan's economic malaise? A shopping street in Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka City, is practically deserted on Sunday morning.

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This is an increasingly familiar sight just about everywhere outside of Tokyo. Several of my favourite shopping streets in Osaka and neighboring prefectures are full of shutters, and the only shops open are staffed and frequented by elderly people. I remember how dynamic and vital Japanese "ichiba" used to be, and I also have fond memories of buying my tofu, pickles, fruits, snacks, chicken and fish from small family-run stores in these markets. The vendors were so friendly and helpful and everything tasted so good! What happened, Japan?

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Modernization, Globalization and "progression" is what happened. Sad.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Wrong....Abe happened.

Increased consumption tax!

-7 ( +13 / -20 )

Reversion to the mean. Expect more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Countless of these shopping arcades at in their death throes cross Japan - mostly because the big malls have absorbed the consumer traffic. . . . This has less to do with the economy and more to do with changing infrastructures .

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Sorry, but I have to say that I was living in Shizuoka 6 years ago and the shopping street in Shimizu were exactly the same than the picture. I don't believe in Abenomics, but this is not related, that zone is dead since the shipyard is closed.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Whatsmore, the current percentage of online retail sales in Japan is only 6-7% at the moment. This rate is one of the lowest compared to other countries. When it inevitably goes up, it will only get worse for these shopping streets/malls.

I went into Sogo a few weekends ago for the first time in years and I was surprised to see how empty it was.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

it says 10am,most shops not even open that time take an empty pic at 4pm ...

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Add benches and a water fountain, so people can hang out, as in Gaikoku. If you make a shopping area comfortable and attractive, the people will come.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Most shopping areas like this aren't going to be crowded at 10am on a Sunday morning, folks.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

it says 10am,most shops not even open that time take an empty pic at 4pm ...

may be it was taken at 10:03 p.m. :)

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Just checked the hours for the mall near where I live. On Sundays it opens at 11AM closes 6PM. As Alex points out, it would be good to see this same photo taken at 4PM.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is the shopping arcade beside Shimizu station. I don't think it ever gets too busy since people don't really use trains there. Chibi Maruko Chan is actually set in Shimizu, it would be interesting to see if there is an episode where she comes here?

Here you go, enjoy the slideshow... the music is classic Japan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuLR5r4cL_4

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Like a couple of posters here said, it's not going to be crowded at 10am on a Sunday.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like a couple of posters here said, it's not going to be crowded at 10am on a Sunday.

There's the rub. Where I live, if a shopping arcade isn't packed with shoppers on Sunday morning, then it's not worth going to. In fact, most locals avoid going anywhere on Sunday morning precisely to avoid the crowds.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Thanks, Abe!

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Well business should be booming once the pass the next proposed consumption tax increase!! Think I will start training myself to survive in the wilderness and live of the land while it is still somewhat possible.!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think most shops are closed on Sundays.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

I have seen scenes like this throughout my travels in Japan, from southern Kyushu to northern Hokkaido. It is eerie to walk down such shuttered streets. I feel an emptiness as I stroll along these former busy shopping districts. Closer to home, I strolled down the Ginza streets in Odawara and Atami earlier this month ... and found emptiness everywhere. In Odawara quite a few establishments have been razed and there is nothing there but the bare earth plus a few empty parking lots that have risen among the ruins. In Atami I was faced with shuttered shop after shuttered shop.

Yes ... Abe keeps saying his Abenomics policy is working successfully ... but where? I haven't seen positive results anywhere. Does he realize what the average citizen is going through financially? When he forms his new Cabinet on Sept. 3 ... perhaps he had better start looking for a good economically minded person to take over the reins of government from he himself.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I think this picture is rigged, lets have 6 more pictures at the same time on Monday Tuesday w,t, f and saturday to give us a comparison to see if its really that deserted, I can see that a 1 % rise in taxes will stop people instantly stop shopping,

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

No one below the age of 70 is going to shop in a shoutengai. This has been happening all over the world for decades, where local shopping arcades have fallen victim en masse to shopping mall behemoths. Kind of sad, really...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think this picture is rigged, lets have 6 more pictures at the same time on Monday Tuesday w,t, f and saturday to give us a comparison to see if its really that deserted, I can see that a 1 % rise in taxes will stop people instantly stop shopping,

Brian, Daniel Marcos Perujo said it was like this when he lived there 6 years ago, and I have been there several times in the last 6 years and it is basically like this. Nighttime has a little more people for the izakayas. People are still shopping, just not at these old style arcades, they are down the street at Uniglo or at the air-conditioned big malls with free parking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm actually really surprised to see that so many people refuse to believe that this is real and that this must be some sort of camera trick or that it will be bursting with people in an hour or so. It seems like some people need to get out of Tokyo more often. This isn't even the worst of what's out there... there are literally ghost towns in the countryside.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I used to live in an apartment in that shotengai - this is how it always looked. Dead every day of the week. In the evenings it would get a few people going to the izakayas, but nothing that would ever be considered a crowd

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I'm actually really surprised to see that so many people refuse to believe that this is real and that this must be some sort of camera trick or that it will be bursting with people in an hour or so.

I know, I know. I can only assume that these particular posters don't actually live in Japan. I wish they would stop it.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

When I was a kid, shoutengais used to be packed everywhere I lived in Japan and those are a lot of places outside of Tokyo.

With free and easy parking at the big and small malls as well as any store with a parking lot the shoutengais didn't/don't have a chance.

Cars have become the main mode of transportation for most people gradually since the 70s and the shoutengais never made a serious attempt to adjust to that. When it's a hassle to find parking you go somewhere else.

Also ALL money has been and will be reinvested into Tokyo and very little of it trickles out of the capital. The provinces and countryside have been left to rot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Online shopping is where it's at.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Fill the streets with some nice outdoor cafes. Can't buy those online.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Turn them into bars, nightclubs, chic restaurants and cafes like Bogi says.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Outdoor cafes seem like a good idea until you realize no one would sit outside for half the year because it's either too hot or too cold.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Shoutengai like this have been facing hard times since the 1980s, their misfortune isnt directly related to Abenomics. Part of the problem is competition from large retailers/online stores and part of it is the nature of most of the businesses on these streets - too many inefficient family businesses that never update their business model and have fallen hopelessly out of date. The current older generation of small shop owners are retiring and finding that their children dont want to/can`t take over the business so they are simply closing up shop and turning the stores into residences, which has negative effects on the street as a whole. A very viscious spiral most of them are in, except the ones in really big cities (and even there only a select few are doing well).

Very sad, since most of them are actually quite nice neighborhoods.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Good point ,Senseiman !

some14some : may be it was taken at 10:03 p.m. :)

Errr . . is that why the sky is bright ??????

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The economy shrunk in Japan last quarter by almost two percent. That will probably continue this quarter putting Japan officially into recession. Abe has flooded the banking system with free money, devalued the Yen by 30 percent and still the tax increase, which he approved, takes the economy to its knees. Abe is robbing the middle class to give to the rich and no surprise, the middle class is not shopping any longer. Toyota's cash reserves has nothing to do with this fact despite what Abe and the trickle down crowd want to believe. Toyota is actually cutting jobs in Japan and using the Abe gift money to invest abroad. The question is when Abe is fired for his failure will Japan be able to recover. But who can help Japan rebuild after Abenomics corrodes the country? The clock is ticking. Japan has many advantages but its leadership is not one.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've seen them busy and empty, photographed them both ways, too. Depends on the day and time. My favourite, in Kyoto, is jammed like a train in rush hour. And on a Sunday morning, I even did a little one-on-one soccer coaching with a young boy and his ball in a street like the one shown, while his parents got ready to open their shop. I don't think you can blame Abenomics, or even ageing shopkeepers - that's all conjecture. As for me, I won't stop shopping in them - can't stand malls, myself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A sign of Japan’s economic malaise? A shopping street in Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka City, is practically deserted on Sunday morning.

If you want to see good business, well head over to Kamakura area, Taito-Ku or any other of the areas around Tokyo. Business is bad if you are looking for it, but it is also good if you look it.

If you want to find loss you and find it, but if you try as hard you will also find gains.

But really folks, which sells more papers misery or reality?

You want to sell papers, well you sell misery, reality isn't as big a seller.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

As some have pointed out here, it is definitely the big malls sucking away the business from the little guys . go to mostly any mall on a weekend & it will be packed . & visit any shotengai on the weekend & it will be more or less empty. unless it's connected to a major train station & people have to pass thru it .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

10am, of course no one is out yet, no one goes out until 11 or 12 in Japan when going shopping

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nothing to do with Abenomics. Nobody does major shopping at shotengai anymore.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

visit any shotengai on the weekend & it will be more or less empty. unless it's connected to a major train station & people have to pass thru it .

This particular shotengai isn't connected directly to the station, but it starts about 50 meters from the station. The station itself is fairly major - it's an express stop for the few express trains that use the line. But the shotengai is pretty much always empty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Abe's policies may add to the problem here, but the decline of the economy in general, and these old-style shopping streets/districts has been going on for more than 20 years. I noticed it first in Okinawa, comparing places like Koza-city's (Okinawa City) Goya district's (Ichibangai, Sun City) between the first time I went there in the bubble years, 1987, to the post-bubble 1990's and into the 2000's.

It was crowded with shoppers, full of stores, noise, and life in the 80's, but after the crash, a slow death. It's depressing now, and it's also the mom & pop stores outside these malls which have died. Places like Mihama, Shintoshin, maybe stores like Sanei and the malls the anchor, have replaced them.

Tokyo still has places like Ameyokocho, little shops around in Akihabara, etc., but fewer of those than in the past as well.

It's not Abe, really, it's the past 20 years of not clearing out the bad investments of the 80's. It's so Japanese to save face this way, and in many ways it helps their society, but this is one where it does not. I would say the same mechanism is behind TEPCO's reaction to Fukushima. "Cover it up and try to fix it before word gets out" only works when you can and do fix it...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lots of these shotengai are outdated in how they look and what they sell, and not very kid friendly. Try to find a toilet for example...The only ones surviving are those that offer something unique like Osu Kannon in Nagoya, which has some unique rare fashion shops, geeky stuff like manga and computer parts shops, original food stands and an "back to the old days" atmosphere, mixed with all the weirdness present day japan has to offer like cosplay festivals and maid cafe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Laughable to see all the usual pessimists claiming Abe ruined their good times at ratty, old, broken down shopping arcades that mostly sell stuff nobody wants to buy. I wish they would just stop it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'd like to know what the average age of the local population around that area is?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the photo was intentionally taken at something odd timing to portray bad business ambience this can be a good example.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

WOW! Just WoW!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

High heat, scattered thunderstorms, Sunday and 10am. Not the best representation in my opinion.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thats happening everywhere. Scattered shops only survive when they sell cheap goods.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This has less to do with the economy and more to do with changing infrastructures .

It's a fact. Let's say 20 yrs ago, the shopping malls and 24/24 supers were not there yet, the shotengai was the market where everybody would shop. In Osaka, most shotengai, except the touristic ones, have become just for elderly, both owners are grandpas that started in the 50's and 60's and should retire, but they want to keep the shop open to get something to do of their days, and the few customers are their buddies that visit more to chat than to buy. Many rest on Sundays, open later, close earlier, open irregularly. The new centers have taken most of the business from shotengais and depatos. And even the quality food shops, like nice bakeries have moved out of shotengais to be independent and avoid the "community"... well, you know how a shotengai works. The station galleries are having problems too it seems.

Several of my favourite shopping streets in Osaka and neighboring prefectures are full of shutters,

Your fav's of the 90's, it's pre-history. But you've haven't seen Costco, the farmer's market or Tennoji Q's shopping mall that empty ? I don't think so. That will come and too soon, but not yet. The wheel turns, and Japan tends to have shift of "trendy" areas much quicker than European countries. That doesn't mean business is good, just that shops moves instead on renovating on the same location.

I'm actually really surprised to see that so many people refuse to believe that this is real

I can believe it's real, I can't believe that means much. Most shotengais died between years 1995 and 2005. Photos like this one are no longer a sign of anything. That said, I am not surprise the volume of sales of everything are still dropping in Japan. I would not believe if you said the contrary. Who would buy ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Abe is destroying this once balanced economy. Look at the bailouts......free money......OMG there it is. Lets raise taxes too.. ohhhhhh and the proof is here.

I doubt this will be the last picture we see like this.

As Tokyo sucks all the money up and deposits that into it's coffers there will be NO baby boom.

No baby boom means......you have to import workers. Eventually those same workers will demand rights and marketing will have to change in order to attract the money of this new demographic. End of story....we don't want to shop at places like the one depicted in this picture. We want IMAX and a more international scene.

Old domestic Japan is going to die and Abe is your Kevorkian.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Aren's all of these shopping arcades in decline? They make anime about them to try to reverse it, but I only go to mine to re-live old experiences from when I came to Japan back in the early 90s.

Not really anything you can say about it. Most businesses in places like this are not vibrant, don't even have websites yet. Amazon has most of what I need.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Come back at 1pm, take photo again, no one is out at 10am shopping infact most of the places are still closed.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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