Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be many of you Japanophiles who haven’t been able to visit Japan for over a year. Many businesses in Tokyo that were dependent on tourists have had to close their doors unfortunately. In this feature, we talk about some of the landmark spots in Tokyo that you may have been familiar with. It’s sad that we couldn’t visit them one last time!
Tokyo Tower One Piece Paradise
The only ONE PIECE themed amusement area in the world, the Tokyo One Piece Tower had a range of exciting games, shows, and attractions as well as a restaurant and specialty store.
The Live Show was particularly popular among fans. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this unique space was closed in July 2020. One Piece fans all over the world will be heartbroken but you can watch a snippet below of what you missed.
Bic Camera Ikebukuro East Exit Camera-kan (store)
If you’ve been to Ikebukuro, you must be familiar with the huge camera in front of the signboard for Bic Camera Ikebukuro East Exit Camera Store. Travellers who like photography and are interested in cameras should be well-acquainted with this place. However, in order to save on costs, the Bic Camera Ikebukuro East Exit Camera specialty store has been officially closed on January 11, 2021, and photography-related products have been transferred to the Ikebukuro main store. The huge camera has disappeared from people’s sight forever.
Compared to famous amusement parks such as Tokyo Disneyland, Toshimaen is probably not well-known among foreigners, but it has a long history. Toshimaen has been around for about 110 years and it was a popular place for families in Tokyo to visit with young kids. Not as fancy as the modern amusement parks, there was a sense of nostalgia and warmth associated with this park.
In the annual hydrangea season in summer, the colorful hydrangeas in full bloom were beautiful and attracted many people.
In August 2020, it was forced to shutdown due to a shortage of visitors as it was no longer viable for the park to function. Another landmark that can only exist in people’s memory!
Yamada Denki LABI Shinjuku Higashi-guchi Store
One of the places in Shinjuku that many tourists visited was the LABI right outside the East Exit of Shinjuku Station. The iconic semi-circular building with massive LEDs could be seen from the west side as well and featured in many films including in “Your Name” (Kimi no Na wa) directed by Makoto Shinkai. In order to avoid competition with the Yamada Denki LABI Shinjuku Nishiguchi Store and the reduced number of tourists, it was no longer performing well. It closed its doors in October 2020.
To be honest, the old Harajuku Station was not upgraded because of the epidemic. The old wooden building was built in 1924 and was the oldest wooden station building in Japan. It stood the test of time and was not destroyed during the war and remained unaffected by earthquakes. Many associated Harajuku with this warm, retro building that was an antithesis to the gaudy glitz and glamour of the shopping area.
The old building did not meet safety standards and was incapable of handling the increasing foot traffic. It was originally planned to be demolished after the Tokyo Olympics but since the games were postponed, the dismantling of the old station proceeded according to the original schedule and was demolished in August 2020. So when you can come to Tokyo again, you will no longer use the former JR Harajuku Station.
The new Harajuku Station is shown below quite different to the old-world charm of the wooden building.
SEGA Akihabara Building No. 2
SEGA Akihabara Building No. 2 stood tall for 17 years along the main road in the Akihabara electronic district on the east side of the station. A landmark that all anime, manga and gadget geeks would be aware of and even those uninterested in games would take a photo of the striking orange SEGA sign. Full of game consoles, anime and manga paraphernalia, this was a must-stop for all gadget and game lovers. It closed in August 2020, and now only Building No. 1 is left open.
The pandemic has changed many aspects of life and the ability to travel freely has negatively affected many tourist spots! Let’s cherish each visit because you never know what won’t be around before you next trip.
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