Missing 'Murica? Stop by America-mura, a seriously cool district filled with vintage shops, record stores, and top-notch food.
Being Japan, this American ‘hood offers Western culture with a twist, and has some of the best people watching in the city.
The now-thriving neighborhood was once filled with empty warehouses and parking lots. It began to develop in 1969 when a hip cafe opened, attracting young people and artists. A group of friends decided to to foster their growing community by deliberately expanding the neighborhood. There were plenty of warehouses and storefronts to choose from, and they opened shops and began selling the products that the area is still known for; records, vintage clothing, and unique trinkets. Many of these items were imported from America and were still a rarity in Japan. People began flocking there for the unique shopping experience and alternative vibe.
By the 80s, the neighborhood had expanded and attracted many visitors. The local media caught on and began calling the neighborhood Amerikamura, or “American Village,” which is often shortened to “Amemura.” Street art appeared, and one of the original founders, Seitaro Kuroda, painted “Peace on Earth,” a mural of a large dove that can still be seen today.
By the 90s, the place went mainstream and large corporations like Big Step and OPA, shopping complexes with moderate and upscale stores, moved in. Taking advantage of the critical mass of youth culture, clubs, bars and movie theaters opened and the number of stores grew to more than 2500.
Sankakukoen, or Triangle Park, became the heart of the neighborhood, and it was utilized for fashion shows, live music performances, and as a spot for skaters and hip hop dancers to congregate. It’s still a popular place to meet people and hang out, as well as the center of the annual Halloween festivities, when people flock to Amemura in often outrageous costumes.
Amemura remains a hotspot for the young and hip. It attracts expats, tourists and locals alike and is excellent for people watching. A warm Saturday can easily be spent lounging outside one of the many cafes, watching the locals walk by in eccentric clothing.
Nowadays, it seems that Amemura is constantly in flux. Visit today and you’ll see new restaurants and shops that weren’t there a month ago. It’s become a hotbed for international food, a place you can find quality burgers, eggs benedict, loads of pancake shops, good coffee, pie, pizza – the list goes on.