The Quiet Charm of Satake Shopping Arcade

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — A ten-minute stroll from Akihabara’s central Chuo-dori lay one of Tokyo’s oldest and most charming shopping arcades.

The Satake Shopping Arcade, which resides in neighboring Taito Ward, has a unique history. From the end of the 17th century the entire area was part of the feudal residence of the Satake family, head of the Kubota Clan in what is now Akita Prefecture.

With the dawn of the Meiji Era in 1868, such feudal residences in Tokyo were abandoned, and so this area of land also became open to new forms of development.

The origins of the Satake Shopping Arcade reach back to about 1884 when private residences and shops began to be built here. Decade by decade, this shopping street became more energetic and prosperous along with the general economic advance of Meiji times.

However, the area was entirely devastated in the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923, with the entire town burned to the ground.

The surviving local people rebuilt the area, and by 1936 a census counted 116 shops on the street. Like today, clothing and grocery stores were the most prominent.

Satake shopping street in 1930

Tragedy struck again in late 1944 and early 1945, when the shopping street was again entirely burnt to the ground by US bombing raids.

But, again, after the war the locals rebuilt it.

Satake shopping street in 1957

The version of the Satake Shopping Arcade that exists today was completed in 1977 with the addition of its colored pavement. Now looking rundown and partially abandoned, like many shopping streets in the rural cities, this is something of a living relic of Showa Era Japan, and well worth a gentle stroll.

On occasion, Satake Shopping Arcade still holds exchanges with Akita Prefecture, from where it gets its name and traces its origins.

Want to learn more about Akihabara? The best way we know to get started is to take the three-hour Akihabara Anime & Gaming Adventure Tour. With an experienced guide and priced at only ¥7,600, this is the ideal means to begin your exploration!

Satake Shopping Arcade in December 2019

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