- 宣伝（後出 advertiser は広告業者）
- shopping street
- 商店街（後出 shopping arcade は屋根のある商店街）
- run for ～
- be lined with ～
- 魚屋（後出 greengrocer は八百屋）
- 風変わりに、人目を引く（後出 flamboyant は派手な）
- a touch of vitality
- call out
- a stream of ～
- stare at ～
- ～を見つめる（後出 gaze at ～ も同意）
- 起源（後出 date back to ～ は～にさかのぼる）
- lose one's way
Art of Advertising
Jujo Ginza shopping street, an old-fashioned shopping arcade in Tokyo's Kita Ward, runs for about 500 meters and is lined with some 200 stores, ranging from fishmongers to greengrocers. It was here during an early afternoon on the weekend that outlandishly costumed street musicians appeared, bringing an immediate touch of vitality to the area with nostalgic saxophone tunes.
The quartet of musicians, referred to in Japan as "chindon-ya," were advertising the shopping arcade's 500-yen "one coin" sale.
"Today's a one-coin day! It's a bargain!" they called out. People in the shopping street approached them and received flyers. Streams of people snapped photos of the musicians with their smartphones. One of the performers made a flower-shaped balloon and gave it to a child who was staring at them.
Chindon-ya are street advertisers, whose roots date back to the late Edo period. With their flamboyant costumes, music and unique sales pitches, they parade along streets, attracting people's attention. The performers' heyday was the mid-Showa era. Although chances to see them have decreased with the advent of TV and internet advertising, they remain widely known today.
As I gazed at the musicians in Jujo Ginza shopping street, an old lady pushing a shopping cart called out to me from behind.
"I've been watching chindon-ya since I was a kid. I have once lost my way after crazily chasing them too far. No matter how many times I see them it brings back memories," she said. Chindon-ya, it turns out, do not simply bring people into stores, but can produce exchanges between total strangers.
Takada Yosuke, a 58-year-old chindon-ya performer who has worked in the arcade for many years, commented, "Chindon-ya are like catalysts for enabling people to relate to each other. As long as there are towns and streets where people come and go, chindon-ya won't disappear."
(By Yoshinaga Yasuo, related stories on pages 4, 5 and 6)
[本文 - 315 words]