“Tokyo Review 050” Shibuya area-4
A Town that can be recognized by the Names of Streets
Let me tell you a story related to the last post. An acquaintance from overseas said that the address indication system in Japan is too hard to understand. Certainly, in other countries, they usually indicate the address by the street names and numbers. Even in a city where you are a stranger, once you could reach the street which is indicated in the address, you can arrive to the destination by checking the numbers displayed on the buildings. For example, you can easily see that there are odd numbers on the right side, even numbers on the left side, and the number increases as you move forward. On the other hand, with the Japanese-style address only indicating the building number, block number, district name, we cannot reach a destination without using the smartphone map apps.
Japanese streets have almost no names except for trunk roads, shopping streets, and characteristic slopes. But in Shibuya, there are many streets with name such as Park Avenue, Bunkamura street, Center Street (some people call it Basket Ball Street recently), Cat Street, etc. There is also a name on the small slope that is fun to pass through like Spain-Zaka. I suppose one of the factors that makes strolling around Shibuya fun is the fact that everywhere can be recognized by those street names.
In the 1970s, Seibu Department Store and PARCO developed their stores in Shibuya, capturing the heart of young people with innovative catchphrases and displays. It was the Saison group that named those streets such as Park Avenue and Spain-Zaka. Competing against these, the Tokyu Group also renamed a street toward Tokyu department store to Bunkamura Street. They had been always competing to enhance their charms producing new facilities such as Loft after the Tokyu Hands or the Shibuya 109 after PARCO.
It is without a doubt that Shibuya has become an attractive and walkable city even for the increasing inbound tourists, thanks to the above-mentioned strategies of developers for naming streets in order to create or improve the image of area.