New Stores Open in Succession, VR Ninja Training Experience AddedKyoto's Higashiyama Shopping Street
New stores focusing on the good environment of the local region have been opening one after the other along Furukawacho Shopping Street, in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, where an increasing number of vacant stores has been conspicuous. These shops, in which people can enjoy an extraordinary atmosphere, are breathing fresh life into the shopping street, and include a facility where people can experience VR (virtual reality) ninja training and a store specializing in cotton candy.
Two new stores opened in late July in a building that was previously a combined greengrocer and private residence. A gallery opened on the first floor at which people can enjoy not only viewing artwork, but also interacting with artists. The amusement facility "Ninja VR Kyoto" opened on the second floor offering a full-scale VR training experience, such as throwing "Shuriken," or ninja star, or blowing "Fukiya" arrows. It seems that the experiences in such facilities, which take advantage of the atmosphere of old private houses with transom windows and worn sliding doors, are also popular with tourists.
The shopping street used to be called "Higashi no Nishiki," or the eastern Nishiki Market, following after "Nishiki Market Shopping Street" in Nakagyo Ward. It used to be lined with stores closely connected to residents' daily lives, such as butcher shops and fish shops, but in recent years stores have been closing their businesses due to the storekeepers' aging and other reasons. On the other hand, many old stores have been converted into guest houses thanks to its convenient location connecting Gion and Okazaki.
Accompanying the increasing number of guest houses, there is also a focus on shops where tourists can come and go, and so the cotton candy store "Jeremy & Jemimah" opened this March. Arisa Tsubakimori, a representative of the operating company, said, "It is pity that the number of closed shutters is conspicuous in spite of the good location. I want to create a new trend." Utilizing a building that had had combined residential and commercial purposes, the second floor was renovated into a space where people can leisurely savor cotton candy.
Expectations that the new stores' openings will revitalize the shopping street are increasing. Yohei Fujimura, the head of the Furukawacho Shopping Street promotion association, said, "First, I want the number of people passing through here to increase. Then, I hope that the trend will lead to the revitalization of our shopping street which is loved by local people."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)