A shotengai is a commercial street (or series of streets) often located near a train station. There are a variety of sizes of shotengais, with some that are covered and blocked to traffic.
A recent article from Japan Today titled Forget the glitz and find the real Tokyo in its shopping streets describes that “a shotengai is not just a street of intimate one- and two-story shops selling all the necessities of life; it’s a portal through the aloof crust of the city into the warmth of social acceptance and interaction, where the mammoth sprawl can be dealt with on a more human scale.”
This article gave me the idea for this blog post! Below are a few pictures of shotengais in and around the Tokyo area which I have taken during the past few years.
Kawasaki (during the 2009 Kawasaki Halloween event)
Koenji (during the 2009 Koenji Daidogei event)
Kichijoji (during the 2008 Omikoshi Togyo Autumn Festival)
This last picture a covered shotengai in Kyoto.