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Tokyo's Ameyoko shops still bustling with crowds amid subdued New Year

The Ameyoko shopping street is seen bustling with fewer customers than in a usual year, in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on Dec. 29, 2020. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

TOKYO -- Although the effects of the new coronavirus led to thinner crowds than normal at Tokyo's Ameyoko shopping street in Ueno on Dec. 29, customers still turned out in their droves ahead of the New Year holidays.

    Along with the customary displays of crab, tuna, herring roe and other traditional produce for the holiday period, salespeople could also be seen hawking their wares while wearing masks and plastic face shields.

    According to the Ameyoko shopping street association, staff at each shop are toning down their sales patter to customers, and from December infection prevention measures have been strengthened with disinfectant liquid used on the roads, among other responses.

    Although the number of people on the shopping street for the end of year period is below 60% of a normal year's foot traffic, it's been reported that over the three days of Dec. 27 to 29, some 450,000 people came to the area.

    Hayato Chiba, 66, the vice-chairman of the Ameyoko shopping street association, said, "While each shop is taking efforts to prevent infections, they've also worked hard to stock good products. We were worried if people would come at the end of the year, but we're very thankful that they have."

    A 62-year-old company employee from the city of Hasuda, Saitama Prefecture, said, "I can't go anywhere for New Year, so I came here to buy food I can enjoy at home. I want to get back without staying here too long."

    (Japanese original by Takayuki Kanamori, City News Department)

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