Though many old buildings are left abandoned, some are turned into cafe, and shops. Brooklyn Café is one of those renovations. Former Head Office ofAshikaga Bank, the failed regional bank was turned into a beautiful café by a young entrepreneur. The notorious failure of the bank in 2003 after its aggressive business expansion during the Japanese bubble-era, further caused secondary bankruptcies of local business, which affected overall local economy. My first reaction was “who would like to have an coffee at iconic place of economic failure?” but then I realized nearly two decades elapsed and young generation are not haunted by old memories anymore.
Ashikaga, a city in south western Tochigi Prefecture, is very unique. There is no other city like this. It is the birthplace of Ashikaga clan, the ancestor of the founder of the Muromachi Shogunate, Ashikaga Takauji and also known as the site of Ashikaga Gakko described by Francisco Xavier as ‘the largest and most famous university in Eastern Japan’. As its location along with Watarase River made easy transportation of woven textile to Tokyo, during early Showa-era, the city had developed to be a boom town. The main business district was vibrant with bars, shops and restaurants for factory workers. Ashikaga was a cultural hub for fashion and arts in […]
As a possible measure to revitalize the local economy, the city government has been pursuing promotion of filming business. A closed high school was turned into mock-school-dedicated-to-filming. Taking -advantage of its location relatively close location to Tokyo, the school successfully invited a number of filming crews for school dramas, including a hit “Dragon Sakura series 2”. One of the more eye-opening things the city built is the mock version of Shibuya’s famous scramble-crossing”.
While the city lost 15% of its population in 30 years, the number of foreigners has increased to reach 5,000 that accounts for 3.4% of the city’s total population. Among various ethnic groups, the rising star is Sri Lankan. As the city is home to more than 100 temples, it has long-term relationship with Sri Lanka where 70% of population is Buddhist.
I found an interesting tableware shop run by old couple. The shop has been at the same place since Showa-era run by a same family, having witnessed all rise and fall of Japanese economy. This spacious shop is full of dead stocks from 1960s to 1970s, including a big figure of an “beckoning cat” (maneki-neko), which business owners in Showa era often bought and displayed as a symbol of inviting luck or money. Recently some young people find a fresh value in those Showa-style design and even replicas are created and sold as “fashionable” goods. This shop could be a gold mine for those young generation. The owner of the […]
This unique collection of Imari and Nabeshima stems from enthusiasm of Mr. Hideo Kurita, a successful business man , politician and an activist and the Ashikaga native, for Imari and Nabeshima pottery and strong belief that collection of these will be a contribution to the culture preservation.. Opened in 1975, it is the first museum to exhibit only pottery and porcelain produced in Japan.With area of nearly 24 acres, the Museum Hall is surrounded by a landscaped garden, constructed without destroying the natural beauty. He is said to have spent JPY 50 billion to purchase the collection. Since the opening of the Museum, pottery and porcelain lover from all over […]