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Endoji Hommachi in Nagoya

A shōtengai (商店街) is a style of Japanese commercial district running along a certain street.

Older shōtengai usually had developed along roads leading to a large shrine or temple; Nakamise-dōri to Sensō-ji, Asakusa is a typical example. More modern shōtengai often connect to the nearest train station.[1] Most suburbs and towns of Japan have shōtengai of varying size, and larger shōtengai may take the form of covered arcades that are blocked off to traffic.[2]

A neighborhood shōtengai may be anchored by one or two large retailers (such as a grocery store or drug store), however the majority of retailers are typically small shops that specialize in specific products such as fruits, vegetables, meats, books, clothing, drugs, furniture, housewares, stationary; or specific services such as barber shops, printing shops, tailors, or cleaners. Restaurants and prepared foods within shōtengai commonly include izakaya, kissaten, wagashi, sushi, udon, ramen or tempura shops. Public services located within or adjacent to shōtengai often include a post office or neighborhood kōban police substation.[3] In larger cities, more centrally located shōtengai often include a larger percentage of chain retailers, as well as hotels, convenience stores, or pachinko parlors.[4]

Beyond their practical role as commercial districts, shōtengai serve as vital social spaces for Japanese neighborhoods, creating cohesion in a neighborhood through shop owner associations, and hosting seasonal festivals and events together with neighbors.[5] An uncommon feature of most commercial districts, the shop proprietors within shōtengai often own the buildings where their shops operate, rather than leasing space from a single landlord or development firm. This gives shōtengai shop owners more freedom to relate to and serve the social needs of their neighborhood, rather than being forced to focus solely on economic utility.[6] [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Imai, Heide (2017). Tokyo Roji: The Diversity and Versatility of Alleys in a City in Transition. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 9781317363644.
  2. ^ Anderson, Collin (2012). Evolution of a Retail Streetscape: DP Architects on Orchard Road. Images Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 9781864704624.
  3. ^ Hani, Yoko (2005-06-12). "Shotengai". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  4. ^ Creative, Tokyo. "Shotengai - experience daily life in Japan". Tokyo Creative. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. ^ Carmelino, Giancarlo; Hanazato, Toshihiro (2019-06-01). "The built environment of Japanese shopping streets as visual information on pedestrian vibrancy". Frontiers of Architectural Research. 8 (2): 261–273. doi:10.1016/j.foar.2019.01.003. ISSN 2095-2635.
  6. ^ "Shotengai: Shopping Streets and Bicycles". City as Nature. 2019-11-07. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  7. ^ Sorensen, André (2009). "Neighborhood Streets as Meaningful Spaces: Claiming Rights to Shared Spaces in Tokyo". City & Society. 21 (2): 207–229. doi:10.1111/j.1548-744X.2009.01022.x. ISSN 1548-744X.