In Tokyo, the local initiative Owan Ltd. aims to revitalize a declining shopping street by launching a series of inspiring, small shop concepts. After operating a coffee roastery and a café in this neighborhood near the Togoshi Koen station, their latest initiative is a simple but beautiful little rice shop.
The rice shop is located in a former vegetable store that had to close in 2014. Schemata Architects (also known for the PACO plug-in unit) renovated it at a minimum cost and came up with a simple yet nice and modest new shop concept. The building itself is characterized by a typical layout where the shopfront faces the street and the owner’s home is located in the back. Due to this traditional design the shop is very small: it measures only 16 square meters. Since Owan Ltd. doesn’t aim to make big money with the store but to reactivate the street, the modest-sized shop which can be maintained by one person was just big enough.
Besides the reactivation of the neighborhood the urban initiative also supports the social network between neighboring shop owners as they believe a good relationship between them is crucial for the maintenance of their shops — when the staff has to leave the shop for a short time the neighboring shops can keep an eye on the rice shop and the other way round due to the open store fronts.
By opening and operating these stores and shops Owan Ltd. combats the transformation of the small street into a ‘shutter street’ with all the individual shops being closed. They don’t only run shops and cafés for business’ sake, but to pursue an urban development strategy that fights the decline of the neighborhood.