Masked Shoppers Fill Year-End Streets as Virus Keeps Spreading


Tokyo/Osaka, Dec. 30 (Jiji Press)--Shopping streets and districts throughout Japan were filled with mask-clad people buying New Year’s food on Wednesday as the country welcomed the year-end amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

The year-end crowds have been much smaller than normal, causing headaches for businesses. The popular Ameyoko shopping street in Tokyo’s Ueno district is usually packed with people at this time of year. While it was difficult for visitors to walk around without bumping into someone on the day, the number of shoppers was less than half of that of the usual year.

The owner of a marine products store in Ameyoko said that last year, the street was so crowded that people were only able to walk at snail’s pace. “This year was a complete flop, from the cherry blossom-viewing season in spring until the year-end sales,” the owner complained.

Masaru Chiba, 53, of Maruyasu Shoten, which sells dried goods, interacted with customers, wearing a face shield on top of his face mask. “We are doing what we can, but we can’t see an end” to the coronavirus crisis, he said.

Takashi Otsuguro, a 42-year-old corporate employee, who visited Ameyoko with his family, said there were fewer shoppers than he had expected. “As we are going to spend the New Year’s holiday at home, we hope to get some crab and tuna,” Otsuguro, from Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press