Noshiro in the NYT

December 6th, 2007 by Chris

Thanks to my boss for forwarding me this New York Times article, incredibly focused on Noshiro and Akita!

In Japan, Rural Economies Wane as Cities Thrive
By MARTIN FACKLER

NOSHIRO, Japan ó The only outward sign of conflict here is the red flags of protest, but this small logging city on Japanís remote northern coast is seething.

A proliferation of national chain stores outside town has already forced the closing of about half of the cityís once teeming central shopping district. Now, many in this normally restrained rural community see the megamall being built nearby, by a company based near Tokyo, as the final nail in the coffin of their economy. read more

It doesn’t make Noshiro sound very nice, but the depiction of empty lots and shuttered stores is sadly true. We’ve learned to ignore these things and just accept that this is what a medium-size town looks like in Japan; all the similar-sized towns we have visited are in the same state. On the other hand, restaurants and nighttime hangouts seem immune to these problems, and Noshiro is blessed with many wonderful, warm and bustling eateries (and people!) that are probably the #1 thing we love about the town.

We have heard rumors of this new Supercenter that Aeon wants to build east of town. But generally, people don’t talk to us about these kinds of things, probably because of the language barrier. While it would be nice to have a huge mall nearby (we currently have to drive an hour to get certain groceries), I agree with the townspeople quoted in this article that it would probably be the last nail in the coffin for the downtown business district. There’s already a big department store right in the middle of town (JUSCO, you can see it in the picture above) which is probably responsible for shutting down most of the small stores on that street. Putting a bigger one outside of town might even kill that downtown JUSCO, which would be doubly terrible, leaving the main central shopping street almost completely useless.

Thanks again to John for forwarding that article to me. Amazing to see our very own “shopping street” (our name for it; the real name is ??, Yanagimachi, “willow town”) on the pages of the NYT.

One Response to “Noshiro in the NYT”

  1. mom Says:

    Thanks, Chris, for printing this. We were looking in the NYT we get, but from your story, this was probably printed last week. Davis is facing the same problems as Noshiro, but by choice. They don’t want any megastores in town, and have nixed the ones that have tried to locate here. We are supposed to get a Target, one that even promises to be green, but it hasn’t gone up yet, and citizens here keep complaining that it will bring the “wrong kind of people”, i.e. poor ones, into our Republic of Davis. There is a Wallmart now in Athens, Ohio, where my father is, but I think it is patronized heavily by people both in and out of the town.

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