Japan’s “shōtengai,” or shopping arcades, typically a covered approach to a station lined by small shops, as well as its high streets, have increasingly come to resemble deserted avenues lined by shutters, especially in the nation’s increasingly depopulated and geriatric regional cities.

Dubbed “shutter-dōri,” or “shutter streets,” these streets have become a potent symbol of urban decay and the demographic and economic collapse Japan faces.

Of course, the real situation is not quite so simple. Japan’s regions have long been emptying, but far from disappearing much of the population, especially the younger generations, have been moving into the vast conurbations of Kanto and Kinki, where populations continue to increase.

Even so, in the streets of the capital rusty shutters and large, deserted roads are not an uncommon sight in the less central areas.

The small stores of the arcades are not just the victims of regional enervation – Japanese now find themselves increasingly preferring convenience stores and large scale high street chains to the uncompetitive vendors who once lined every station thoroughfare.

That Japan’s regions are fast becoming ghost towns is undeniable, however.

Poignant depictions of the decline of once vibrant shopping arcades are not hard to come by:


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    Avatar of Justice Shojo
    Comment by Justice Shojo
    07:12 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Watch the 2009 documentary 'The Secret of Oz' and understand the root cause of many of the worlds problems lies in banking elites controlling the quantity of money in the global economy - rather than nation states. If you are ever going to accept a conspiracy theory - this is the most likely and realistic conspiracy I know of.

    If you decide to ever watch a documentary this is it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:53 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0) evil organization is controlling the world, keeping us all down....

    Saitou, is that you? Inbou da! Time to go meet with Misaki-chan and calm the fuck down, you're reverting to your former hiki self.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:07 28/08/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    It does not have to be a conspiracy but lets not forget banks are know to do what ever they want, or do you think the fiasco we had in the States was just business as usual?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:05 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe just because it's Golden Week and some people took pictures of closed stores?

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    The pictures weren't taken in Golden Week.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:25 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Let's not forget that these teens who don't go out (forgot what they are called) can also play as one of the missing factors here since they've becoming too common in Japan. And i also bet that it's not common in Japanese teen to go out and roam around in their country - bet most of the teens and otakus who have seen this won't even recognize 1/4 of the places shown here.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:25 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    to all the idiots claiming this is just shots of vacation or early hrs keep
    shutting your eyes to reality, hopefully you will fall in a pit and stop burdening the world.
    This happening in a lot of countries not just Japan and is no laughing matter as it is followed by desperation and crime.
    so keep laughing idiots but pray that when you need a job they don't tell you
    you aren't needed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:24 17/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    It seems to be happening in every "rich" country.
    Cost of living goes up, but not your pay. Cost of raising kids goes up so who wants to have more then 1 or 2.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:42 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who cares? Shit happens everywhere why is Japan so special other than Wapanese and Weebos feeling sympathy on this site (hardly anyone if anyone at all is Japanese)

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:50 16/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    cuz japan is where the cool shit comes from... rather than china.. cuz china just produce shit... not cool shit

    Avatar of Elle Lowel
    Comment by Elle Lowel
    05:21 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Did anyone recognise picture 015 from various anime? I'm sure I saw it in Nyan Koi.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:26 16/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    yes Anime where the setting is japan tend to use real japan places xD

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:42 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Depressing, no really.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:05 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    BlackEpsilon says:

    This is an amateur zombie film waiting to happen.

    Avatar of cherrybox
    Comment by cherrybox
    07:58 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    another reason to nuke japan, the place is worthless and filled with useless japs

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:53 16/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    another butthurt war vet??? what did ur grand pappy died in deh war?
    maybe someone stab him in the ass by mistake~ at least he died happy

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:07 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    that's so depressing D:

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:48 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Every shotengai looks like this at 9am sunday morning.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:45 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What we should be discussing is how we can make this work for us.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:19 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Globalization was here. Small business are dying, time to monopolize and raise prices on the unemployed masses. They'll steal from each other to buy our over hyped, poorly built merchandise. We get blood money, they get slavery and prison.

    Avatar of Aiko Goddess
    Comment by Aiko Goddess
    08:21 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It looks like a resident evil level >.< scary

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:28 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This will completely dissapear once LovePlus+ is released, with the love-enthralled players taking their girls out on dates everywhere.

    Avatar of Dia
    Comment by Dia
    05:00 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Damn those schizophrenic Japanese that aren't spending.

    Seriously though, should we be sad about this? The 50's are nice for a couple of hours when you watch Always San Chome No Yuhi, but you probably wouldn't want to live there. Neither should you worry about shotengais disappearing because they just aren't needed anymore.

    Avatar of motaku96
    Comment by motaku96
    01:55 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe it's because everyone's away on golden week.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:29 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its sad to see this I've actually been to some of these places back in 2006 amazing to see how 4 years changes places

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:36 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wonder how many of those were just taken on a Sunday afternoon or some other time when the stores are just closed. Some are clearly derelicts but others look too well maintained.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:50 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Most of these shots appear to be just taken during early hours when nothing is open yet.

    01:31 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Some of these remind me of dead malls in the US while others remind me of run down down town areas.

    Looks like Japan needs to invest in an urban renewal program and redevelop some of these places.

    Maybe rebuild them to be more car and bus friendly as some seem very claustrophobic and only reachable by foot.

    Maybe offer tax incentives for businesses to move back into the regions as well.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:02 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its hella easy to get shots like this around Golden Week.
    Check out Masataka Nakano project Tokyo Empty for more.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:54 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    All they really have to worry about is the demons popping up but at lease they'll have Ginza to listen too while walking through...

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:16 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Haruhi provided the answer but no one follows her example.

    These shopping streets need attractive big titted schoolgirls in bunny suits to attract customers.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:17 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Duckface was here....

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:46 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    04:56 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    04:58 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Its eroge palying week.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:54 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Homeless people sure got it easy in Japan...

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:53 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    lul they should have put a random pic of juon in the corridors that would be pwnd~

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:29 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those places remind me of Silent Hill

    Avatar of Dirty_Dingus008
    Comment by Dirty_Dingus008
    00:55 07/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It is no surprise to myself. I was deployed to Yokosuka back in 2002 and saw such shuttered sites then in that city and then in Tokyo in 2003. So as far back at that, this has been happening. I guess that this has accelerated since then though.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:44 05/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    this is kinda scary. this reminds me of a scene in the manga uzumaki...

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:23 05/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Re populate Japan through clones... and other "methods" *wink wink*

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:06 10/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    a lot of those locations look dumpy, they could really benefit from renovation.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:41 17/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    The just look like the streets in my city on a Sunday...

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:46 04/10/2015 # ! Neutral (0)

    one thing that comes to mind... Jet set radio future, xbox game

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:59 13/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They probably took it on early mornings. The old people are quite feisty, ya know.

    Avatar of matsumoto781
    Comment by matsumoto781
    00:57 27/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, it sure looks depressing, but it doesn't mean the people who once did business there just vanished. There are lots of newly build big department buildings, mostly near the train stations; it's where most of the merchants have moved.

    So, sure, the small stores aren't outside anymore, but the merchants do exist. It's like in Akihabara, where most of the small (and often boroi) restaurants near the station have had to make space for giant buildings like Yodobashi Akiba and the high buildings on the opposite side. Once you get inside, you can notice small restaurant en masse.

    It's not the same feeling eating there, but at least the chance to choose between really many kinds of food is still there.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:17 05/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Times and preferences change. It's a fact of life. These may have served their communities well decades ago, but now people want a greater selection of more or less the same stuff at lower prices. Consolidation in retail and improved distribution channels have made this possible. Newer big-box outfits (even in Japan) have less character, but they seem to be serving their generic function well. That's a choice customers made, right or wrong, and it works given existing physical & social infrastructure.

    Maybe care facilities for the elderly next to these stores may bring in more traffic, for instance. Alternatively, these communities should consider what stores are sustainable, and how to better transition the people and space so urban blight is minimized. Abandoned 'dead malls' mentioned by a poster above often haunt neighborhoods for longer than they should in the US.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:47 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    no wonder. becaouse jap gov has gathered japs in tokyo.

    gov "main TV stations and publishers must be in tokyo!!!"

    japs "yes sir!!!"

    gov "and companies too!!!!1!"

    japs "sir, yes sir!!!!!11!!!!!11123"

    hicks "...mmm, there is no animes, no mangas, and no works... but i love my country... but..."

    tokyo japs "hehehe, only pumpkins live in a country"

    miku otakus "why doesn't crypton come to tokyo?"

    tokyo japs "yeah! crypton must come to tokyo!"

    this is what is goin on in japan.

    Avatar of MelonOtaku
    Comment by MelonOtaku
    12:48 04/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    man this is really depressing, its the same thing that happend to america when wal-mart popped up. its disappointing because i have never been to japan yet and it will not be the same as the last decade. i even wish i could see America in its different booms like drive in theaters n such. WE might think they will bounce back but small buisness strips in america never do -_-

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:27 05/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Unless this is all a clever ruse to get people there to spend more money...I could capture the same scene anywhere if I took photos at 5AM.

    But, I guess it's believable. Right down the street from me, a multi-million dollar movie theatre was torn down because it was built in an area where business died all around it.

    In the suburban sprawls in the US, we commonly have the problem of areas getting to the point where poor people inhabit the housing around businesses. This drags the safety and overall classiness of the businesses down, so they take their businesses elsewhere and leave dead shopping centers in their wake.

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