Japan-Themed Street Opens In China For Travel-Starved Tourists

Illustration for article titled Japan-Themed Street Opens In China For Travel-Starved Tourists
Screenshot: ANNnewsCH
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During this global pandemic, Japan has issued a tourist ban. Currently, visitors from 159 countries are not able to enter the country. So what are Japan-starved tourists to do? In China, a Japan-themed street was created.

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As South China Morning Post reported earlier this month, there’s now a 330-foot street in Foshan to give locals the feeling that they are in Japan. Called Ichiban Street, it’s filled with neon and signs that referenced Sailor Moon, Game Boy, Evangelion, Initial D, Anpanman and more. Some signs featured art from Pac-Man and Crayon Shin-chan.

“Now, because of the pandemic, we can’t go anywhere overseas, so it’s quite interesting to see local youth come here to feel like they are going abroad,” Li Gengyu, an architect, told SCMP. The place is like prime fodder for Instagram photos. Visitors were even spotted wearing faux Japanese schoolgirl uniforms.

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The street has also been featured on the Japanese evening news.

Many businesses have moved into the street, and while it’s not yet opened, Ichiban Street looks like it’s going to be a hit. However, the opening has been delayed, with speculation that signs that violated copyright are being redone. Moreover, as the SCMP clip (below) also points out, the kanji characters ichiban (一番), meaning “best” or “number one” have been covered. In Japanese, ichibangai (ichiban street) refers to large shopping streets.

“We don’t know when the street will be open to the public...and the street needs to be corrected and renamed without ‘Ichibangai’,” a guard watching the now sealed-off street told SCMP. There’s speculation that Chinese patriotism is behind the rumored name-change, as this shopping area inadvertently purports that a Japanese street is the best.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

Wait, didn’t the Chinese people do this thing where they decide it’s ok to hate on Japan and everything Japanese every once in a while?

And before anyone jumps on this to explain why they don’t particularly like the Japanese, I know the reasons, I’m just wondering how this street will fare when that happens.

Or maybe I’m just looking at it wrong, and those instances of Chinese people destroying Japanese stuff on the streets (when both governments get into one of those border disputes) are extremely rare and in small in scale.

It still boggles the mind how they can hate the country, but like its culture.