Tokyo is an ever-evolving city with restaurants and shops opening and closing on a regular basis – but more so in this year of the Covid-19 pandemic. On one hand we’ve seen exciting new additions in anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics, like Shibuya’s Miyashita Park, the metropolis also suffered from great losses as a number of local institutions have had to close for good, partly due to the lack of tourists. Here we honour some of Tokyo's landmarks that are gone forever.
Known for its UFO (claw) machines and arcade games, the iconic orange-lined game centre in Akihabara shut its doors permanently on August 30. Sega Building Two is survived by Sega Buildings One, Three and Four, all of which are also in Akihabara.
This electronic store is another iconic Akihabara landmark to bid us farewell on August 30. This highly recognisable building, famous for its tube-like escalators running along its side, was just next to Akihabara Station.
This massive electronics store, known widely for its Yunika Vision screens playing J-pop concerts and commercials, closed on October 4. The store was often featured in TV shows and movies, such as Makoto Shinkai’s ‘Weathering with You’.
Shibuya’s first kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) closed in 2020 after serving hungry shoppers for more than 40 years. Founded in 1979, the restaurant was famous for its budget donburi (rice bowls) and nigiri sushi using fresh seafood from Toyosu Market. The original Dogenzaka outlet has closed but luckily, the Sangenjaya venue is still open.
Noma’s sister restaurant, which earned two Michelin stars this year, announced its closure on July 3. Known for its modernist Japanese-Nordic cuisine celebrating indigenous ingredients, Inua and head-chef Thomas Frebel managed to make a big splash in Tokyo’s competitive dining scene despite its short-lived three-year existence.
Okay, this may not be Covid-19's fault, but the beloved Toshimaen closed at 94 years old on August 31. The Ikebukuro theme park was synonymous with Japanese summer vacations. Toshimaen will be replaced with a Harry Potter theme park based on both the original and the subsequent Fantastic Beasts book series, expected to open in 2023.
This one received mixed reactions. While tourists bemoaned the death of MariCar, the unapproved and unofficial real-life Mario Kart go-karting through the city, locals were overjoyed. After international entry bans caused tourism to fall by 99 percent, an infamous Nintendo lawsuit and a failed crowdfunding campaign, MariCar is now gone. Chin up, though: we can soon ride an official (and much safer) Nintendo-licensed Mario Kart at the upcoming Super Nintendo World.
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