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5 More Things in Japan Gone for Good

GaijinPot looks at some of the biggest events in Japan that have disappeared.

By 4 min read

It has been a hard time for entertainment as COVID-19 restrictions and economic slowdown have meant that people simply aren’t visiting events in the numbers required.

Previously, we looked at attractions no longer around, such as the projects at Palette Town. Still, we wanted to revisit the topic and look at popular events that have disappeared or whose days are numbered. While there is always hope that these events and hot spots might come back one day, let’s pour one out for these unique experiences of Japan that are long gone.

1. Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant

One of Tokyo’s must-see events for the sheer craziness of its performances.

Robot Cafe was formerly one of Tokyo’s must-see events for the sheer craziness of its performances. As well as the giant robots that could move and even dance, there were robotic dinosaurs, sharks, tanks, and Japanese-style floats performing alongside ninjas, taiko drummers, and metal guitarists, making the whole thing seem like a deleted scene from an all-neon version of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall for the company when eagle-eyed social media sleuths spotted its sign being removed, with the website following shortly afterward. Robot Restaurant had two things that left it prone to pandemic problems it had a large cast of non-robot performers in a small space and relied on tourists for a lot of its income.

2. Akihabara’s Gundam cafe

Catch it while you can!

A popular cafe catering to fans of the gundam series closed its doors for good. The cafe was notable for its exclusive themed menu, shows and models. Speaking of gundam, the life-sized gundam in Yokohama will be disassembled on March 31, 2023. So catch it while you can!

3. Live music venues

With clubs still struggling to recover from lockdown restrictions, several closed up shop.

One of the most notable casualties was the legendary regular event Ageha, which had been going on for 20 years in Kanto. The huge space and wild atmosphere made it one of Japan’s most popular venues, and its legendary New Year’s parties and pool parties were a rite of passage for Tokyoites.

Outside of club nights, the huge space it was held in, called Usen Studio Coast, also played host to a wide range of concerts from big-name international and Japanese artists like Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Weezer, Def Tech, Sakanaction, and many more. Unfortunately, Usen Studio Coast has announced that it will close for good when its lease expires, killing off both Ageha and Usen Studio Coast.

Another musical loss is Zepp Tokyo, a legendary venue for rockers. The music hall has seen the likes of Muse, Bon Jovi, Babymetal, Linken Park, and possibly the greatest performance of Underworld’s Born Slippy ever on its stage. While other Zepps have survived, including Zepp DiverCity in Tokyo, the loss of the biggest of the Zepp event spaces and home away from home for so many legendary acts is a big loss to the Kanto music scene.

However, it is not all bad news. Zepp has announced that it will create a new Zepp event space in Shinjuku, offering multiple floors of music to cater to the young, trendy Shinjuku crowds.

4. Kawasaki Halloween Parade

A Halloween staple, gone forever.

On the subject of nights out ending, people that went out clubbing on Halloween likely had a surprise as the vast street gatherings in Tokyo were strictly policed, revelers were constantly encouraged to move on, convenience stores limited in the times that they could sell alcoholic drinks and strict fines for on-the-street boozing and smoking. One of the favorite spots, the Scramble, was conspicuously uncrowded despite being often overtaken in previous years.

One of Tokyo’s most famous attractions was Kawasaki Halloween Parade. People would gather around Kawasaki station to show off their Halloween costumes, watch reshowings of classic horror movies, and take part in the runway. Each year would have a theme, and people could enter a competition to make the best costume using that theme to win 500,000 yen.

Considering previous events attracted over 100,000 visitors, with tighter controls on Halloween gatherings, the popular event Kawasaki Halloween was always at risk, and it announced that 2020 would be the final parade.

5. Toshimaen Amusement Park

So long Toshimaen!

In a previous article, I talked about my love of water parks and one that almost made my list of favorites was Toshimaen in the Nerima area of Tokyo. The amusement park boasted roller coasters, 25 slides, and six pools, making it a must-visit for people looking to cool off in the scorching Japanese summer.

The amusement park was only a few years off celebrating a centenary when it disappeared with a wave of the wand and an Avada Kedavra spell when the land was bought to make way for Warner Bros’ Making of Harry Potter attraction. Also, Tokyo Metropolitan Government will maintain control over the rest of the property and develop it into a park and evacuation zone.

While looking at all these extinct events can be overwhelming, there is hope. The recent attention paid to the new Ghibli Park in Nagoya has had the benefit of saving the Ghibli Museum, which was penciled in for this list as it had resorted to crowdfunding to keep it afloat before its upturn in fortune. Similarly, although we reported the death of Kusama Yayoi’s pumpkin in October 2022, a replica created by Yayoi’s company was reinstalled. Long live the pumpkin!

Do you have any memories of any of these? Share them in the comments.

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