Most tourists take Omotesando Avenue on their way to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. Walking along Omotesando is undoubtedly the route with the most stores and the most bustling atmosphere.
However, Shinmichi Street, the back street, has also suffered a strange fate and is now in the process of sprouting a new life.
If you are visiting Narita, here is an introduction to the history and future of Shinmichi Street, which you will enjoy more if you know about it and want to walk along it.
Shinmichi Street was once a glamorous entertainment district!
When the railroad between Kinshicho and Narita opened in 1897, the number of visitors to Naritasan, which had been popular since the Edo period, increased daily, and the number of souvenir shops and inns in the approach area grew rapidly.*(1)
At that time, Shinmichi Street was still covered with fields and bushes, and was not yet a viable route for visitors to Naritasan.*(2)
Shinmichi Street today is at the foot of Mt. Gongen.
Mt. Gongen, now only a shadow of its former self, is located just outside the east exit of JR Narita Station. On the left side, facing the police box, is the summit of the mountain, which remains a place of worship for the local community.
Around 1930, the area was gradually developed as a passageway to Naritasan, and stores began to stand in the area, and a bird's-eye view of the area from 1938 depicts its development.
The development of the entertainment district reached its peak in 1945. Shinmichi Street even had a movie theater called "Hanasakikan," and it was a glamorous back street. Even when the Second World War broke out and the general public could no longer go sightseeing, military personnel continued to come and go, and the drinking establishments on Shinmichi Street remained open for business.*(3)
The Great Fire of Hanasaki-cho
The most significant change in Hanasaki-cho occurred with the great fire of May 1945.
The fire broke out around 11:00 p.m. on May 9, due to the loss of a residence along the approach to the house. Due to the combination of the wartime situation, the inadequate water supply needed to extinguish the fire, and the fact that Shinmichi Street was less than 3 meters wide, the fire, initially thought to be a single house, became a major blaze that destroyed 184 houses by the next morning.*(4)(5)
*Additions to 成田市史叢書第2集 「市民が語る成田の歴史」p147-148
Fortunately, no one was killed or injured, but the fire destroyed almost all of Shinmichi Street.
Two movie theaters opened after the war
After the war, reconstruction from the fire gradually progressed, and in 1946, Narita Tosei Gekijo (renamed Narita Eigeki in 1951)*(6) and Narita Shin-ei opened*(7) in 1955, creating a townscape with two movie theaters.
Around 1967, there were public bathhouses and other facilities, and the street was lined with stores.
Gradually, the parking lot became more noticeable and a way out for cars.
However, in 1969, the two movie theaters were closed due to the declining film industry. Although a bowling alley followed, it did not seem to last long.
Around 1975, Shinmichi Street was transformed into a townscape that was more in tune with residents' lives than for visitors, with grocery stores and beauty salons opening*(8). It too was gradually transformed into a parking lot as the number of pedestrians declined.
Then, with the opening of the "Nakayoshi Tunnel" in 2003, Shinmichi Street began to be used as a vehicle route.
New buds on Shinmichi Street
Shinmichi Street has had such a strange fate, but taking advantage of the fact that there are many vacant stores, unique stores are opening one after another.
"Hashira Café" is a Japanese-style café full of healthy menu items, which was renovated from a former soba noodle shop.
"Spice Bar Seeds" offers a wide variety of authentic spiced dishes.
"Cocktail Bar Toyo" is a famous restaurant that cannot be missed when talking about Shinmichi Street.
"Vineria" is an Italian restaurant where you can enjoy stone oven baked pizza and other authentic Italian dishes.
A restaurant where you can enjoy meat dishes and wines from around the world, popularly known as "Koyo-Niku”.
And recently, a new project called "Meets! Project". The stage is set around a former butcher shop on Shinmichi Street, and efforts are underway to attract travelers, including the creation of a tentatively named "Shinmichi Street Plaza" and the recruitment of tenants.
Keep an eye on Shinmichi Street in the future!
(1)米屋の歴史 2024/01/26 Browsing
(2)成田市史叢書第2集 「市民が語る成田の歴史」 p149-150 See on map
(3)成田市史叢書第2集 「市民が語る成田の歴史」 p146
(5)広報なりた 市内最大の火災「花咲町の大火」 2024/01/26 Browsing
(6)『ふるさとの想い出写真集 明治・大正・昭和 成田』p106
(8)『新道しんみち・新々道しんしんみちを歩く！』 2024/01/26 Browsing