In the years following the war, due to shortages in food and other commodities, black markets thrived in certain urban areas. This street, close to Shinjuku, Tokyo’s largest rail station, served that function long ago. Now, named “Omoide Yokocho” (memory lane), it’s home to many cheap eateries. Because of its favorable location real estate developers have long desired to demolish it and make better use of the valuable land. But the operators of these inexpensive snack establishments continue to hold out, hanging out their shop curtains and beckoning to passers-by. Perhaps in reaction to society’s increasing alienation, the shops along this nostalgic alley still manage to attract many customers yearning for the good old days.

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