A 70-Year-Old Shopping Street Selling Everything Imaginable
Where do you go when you want to buy vegetables, find comfy footwear, or enjoy a meal? Nowadays, department stores will have everything you need in one place.
In 1951, Movie Theater Shopping Street opened in the Koenji neighborhood of Tokyo. Just like department stores, it had everything you needed for everyday life. As its name suggests, there was also a movie theater that added liveliness to the streets as a place of entertainment.
In 1962, the Shopping Street Association was established and later renamed to the present-day Koenji LOOK Shotengai. While the storefronts have changed over time, it's still a street with stores for everything imaginable.
The street is home to a post office, drugstore, dental clinic, thrift stores, variety shops, cafes, izakayas (Japanese pubs), an art gallery, and much more! Walk down the street, and you’ll realize just how much diversity this single spot offers.
Take a Stroll Through Historic Buildings
Koenji LOOK Shopping Street is nestled between JR Koenji Station and Shin-Koenji Station. There are close to 170 shops located along this 600-meter-long avenue
Even the newest retailers are in row-house style structures—a design from the Edo Period. The street's architecture creates a historical feel; shops built into row houses sit side by side sharing the same wall. Seeing each store compactly lined to the next makes them seem like a cross between historical shopping districts and modern department stores!
What types of shops are found in a shopping street with everything? We visited stores less than a decade old, as well as with long-established shops with nearly 80 years of history. Here are some of our favorites!
1. Grandpries: Find Adorable, Retro Goods
This small store is packed with a variety of quirky products from second-hand clothes, retro goods, dagashi (old-fashioned sweets) to handmade products. This is Grandpries, a Showa-style goods and thrift store that opened in 2014.
The owner, Ms. Omura, frequently visited the Koenji neighborhood since she was a student. Her purpose was to head to thrift stores and collect retro items.
We asked Ms. Omura why she decided to open this store. Right away she replied, “This was the only thing on my mind.”
The yellow roof is the store’s trademark. Mannequins, capsule toy machines, and second-hand clothes with eye-catching designs line the storefront. When curating items for her shop, Ms. Omura is always on the lookout for something interesting. It’s as if the store is an embodiment of Ms. Omura’s worldview!
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