The last two years have been rough for many businesses in Tokyo and Japan due to the pandemic and Japan’s on-and-off states of emergency. While we’re still mourning the institutions we’ve lost in 2020, there have been a few more closures announced over this past year.
However, all is not lost. While many places have shuttered, we have also seen some exciting new additions to the city including Reload Shimokitazawa, the Haruki Murakami library on the Waseda University campus, and even the luxurious Gucci Osteria restaurant by Massimo Bottura.
In remembrance, here are the Tokyo landmarks that closed forever in 2021.
This massive classic car museum in Odaiba’s Palette Town complex almost made it to the end of 2021, marking its last day on December 31. Sadly, the popular spot for gearheads had to shut down as part of Palette Town's major redevelopment. Mega Web made its debut way back in 1999, and was a Tokyo fixture for 22 years. Inside, you could take Toyota’s newest models for a test drive, check out the company's electric car prototypes, and – best of all – browse through vintage cars from different brands inside the History Garage, a two-storey exhibition that was entirely free to visit.
An unfortunate Covid-19 casualty, Harajuku bid farewell to its iconic Kawaii Monster Café at the beginning of 2021. The café was known for its OTT dinner theatre performances and wildly colourful food, which made it one of the most popular spots for tourists coming into the city. Thankfully, the café has recently found a new lease on life with a pop-up restaurant in Osaka which is around until October 2022.
The popular one-stop shop closed its Ikebukuro location after 37 years in business this October. The eight-storey shopping mecca was in the massive Sunshine City shopping complex and was also home to the Nekobukuro cat 'petting zoo'. Shoppers can breathe a sigh of relief as there are still many other Tokyu Hands locations around Tokyo and Japan. For the full list of locations, visit the website.
The Edo-themed super sento shuttered for good in September after a long 18 years of upmarket hot spring bathing. The onsen housed 13 different kinds of baths as well as lounging areas with matsuri-style game stalls and restaurants.
Unfortunately, many arcade buildings have been closing in part thanks to a lack of players during the pandemic. The prominent Taito Station landmark in Nishi-Shinjuku closed back in March, but thankfully, there’s no shortage of claw games and purikura photo booths – Shinjuku alone is still home to three more Taito Station arcades.
The recognisably red arcade in Akihabara shut down back in June, following the closure of Adores Building 1 back in 2020. Adores was home to two floors of arcade games as well as eight floors of karaoke rooms. Covid-19 wasn't specifically called out in the closure announcement, but the pandemic definitely had an effect on many businesses in Tokyo's Electric Town.
After 28 years in business, the massive Sega arcade in Ikebukuro permanently shut its doors in September. Easily one of Ikebukuro’s major landmarks, the arcade closed due to the venue's lease expiring. But this story had a happy ending: in October, the arcade reopened in a new space right across the street from the old location.
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