Japan Anime Information

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What Is Shotengai?: Japan’s Traditional Shopping Area

Let’s unmask what we see in Japanese anime

In Japanese anime for kids, we sometimes see shotengai.

For example, we see a shotengai in the Christmas episode of Aikatsu Stars Season 1.

In this episode, protagonists plan to hold a Christmas event.

However, they do not have any concert halls to use.

Then, they suggest using shotengai square.


What Is shotengai?

Shotengai is a cooperative community of small shops.

Actually, shotengai(商店街) is translated as the shopping street or commercial district.

Shoten means shop, and gai means street or town.


In shotengai, we have some small private shops such as grocery stores, butchers, and fish shops.

Shops in shotengai organize merchants’ association and cooperate together to increase the sales.

This is what we call industry accumulation in Economics.


Why do they use the shotengai in TV programs?

Shotengai is a good material for TV programs to attract sympathy.


In Japan, shotengai is usually the symbol of warm heart and activeness.

However, by the rise of shopping malls, this system is declining.

They say revitalization of shotengai is a key to the regeneration of the economy in rural areas.

So TV programs use the revitalization of shotengai as a theme of the documentary.

For the same reason, Aikatsu Stars uses shotengai as a place for growth, and of enthusiasm and warmth.


There are some successful shotengais

Of course, there are some shopping streets with big sales including Ameyoko Shopping Street in Ueno, Tokyo.

In the end of the year, many people visit Ameyoko to buy groceries for celebrating the New Year’s Day.

I see this on TV news show every year, and I always feel that this flourish shows what the shotengai is.


Butchers deal with Korokke

We also see a shotengai in BanG Dream! smartphone game.

In this game, we see a story about regenerating the shotengai.

By the way, some of the personae in this game are children of shopkeepers.

For example, Hagumi Kitazawa is a daughter of butcher’s.

And one of her favorite commodities is Korokke.


Korokke is the symbol of warmth

Actually, in Japanese butchers, they sell Korokke.

This prepared food forms the public image of shotengai.

People sometimes buy some Korokke in addition to meat.

Also, shopkeepers sometimes use Korokke as a free gift for clientele.

Korokke is a means to show their enthusiasm for shopping and business.


Rise of convenience store

Unfortunately, in these days, convenience stores also deal with prepared food.

Warmth and enthusiasm in shotengai is robbed by the biggest industry in Japan.


Shotengai is left in anime

Even though shotengai is disappearing, some animes use shotengai as materials or locales.


For scenario writers, it is easy to make characters from parent’s occupations.

For children, jobs in shotengai are easy to understand.

Therefore, shotengai may remain forever in the anime world.

However, if you would like to try Korokke, you should go to your nearest shotengai as soon as possible.