History of Shinjuku West gate area
The history of Shinjuku West gate area shopping street goes back to the immediate postwar years.
Around 1946, the district was a devastated land covered by wreckage.
There used to be stalls selling clothes, shoes, daily products such as soaps at the front of the station,
and 30 to 40 booths sheltered with reed screens selling oden (various materials cooked in Japanese style
broth), boiled potatoes, boiled red beans, tempura, tsukudani (seaweed
boiled in soy sauce), and used books,
but all were completely destructed by fire.
After the disaster, "Lucky Street", a black market consisted of stalls
divided by boards,
appeared during the controlled economy era.
Even at this war time, the population of this district has decreased merely
because there were houses sheltering families who escaped from their homes
evacuated to their relatives living in Setagaya, Suginami, and Nerima.
Shinjuku was a transit point of those areas, and functioned as a terminal
for transitting people and
People gathered to Shinjuku, and started to run their own businesses.
Around 1947, flour for making ramen-noodles, Imagawa-yaki (Japanese sweets
made from flour and red bean curd), and udon were controlled goods, were severly restricted
by the government.
People needed to invent business using uncontrolled goods, and entrails of
cows and pigs brought by occupation troops were one of them.
Since then, most of the stores started to run "Motsu-yaki" shops, and soon
You will find traces of that time in our Yakitori or Motsu-yaki shops which sums up to around 20.
As mentioned before, the inherited feature is the structure of the shops diveded by single boards.
Even now, majority of the shops are built tightly, right next to eachother.
In the 1950s, shops such as "Yakitori-cabaret" made appearances.
These shops served Yakitori and Shochu (distilled spirit), but dressed up hostesses offered services.
From the point of view nowadays, the idea of these shops sounds very unique.
In the 1960s, Metro extention plans and terminal buildings were rebuilt due to redevelopment.
Some 300 shops continued from Koshu-Way to Oume-Way were claimed illegal occupancy and forced to leave, and shops from the current "Palette Building (also as known as Shinjuku West gate Hall)" to Oume-Way were able to survive.
Since then and until now, "Omoide-Yokocho (Corner of Memories)" at Shinjuku West gate has continued to develop with its inherited taste offered with reasonable prices, and warm hospitality.
Image of Shinjuku West gate around 1950 and 1951. *The image will become large by clicking on it*