Photo: Jezael Melgoza/Unsplash

This traditional shopping street near Sensoji in Asakusa is at risk of disappearing

Reports have surfaced that a set of long-running businesses on Demboin-dori could be evicted

Emma Steen

A total of 32 shops that run along a street beside Sensoji Temple in Asakusa could disappear soon, as reported by Chunichi Shimbun. Demboin-dori – not to be confused with the bustling Nakamise-dori that leads to the iconic temple – is a street located south of Sensoji; it runs in front of the smaller Demboin Temple. Many of the shops here are family businesses that have been around for decades, but are now facing possible eviction as the local council has deemed that they are operating illegally without permit. 

According to shopkeepers, the idea for establishing the shops along the public road was proposed by the mayor of Taito roughly 40 years ago. The shopkeepers claim they chipped in for construction costs to revitalise the neighbourhood at the time, and in exchange, were allowed to occupy the space rent-free. Taito ward officials, however, are claiming there are no documents or official records of such agreement. 

Many of the stores here sell traditional Japanese goods and souvenirs to tourists as well as locals. However, a plan to revert the street to an ordinary public road could affect the spirit and identity of the surrounding neighbourhood. Don’t worry, the shops won’t disappear just yet, as business owners are fighting for the right to stay put with public petitions and legal representation.

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