-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
When I went to shitamachi (下町, see Definition of Shitamachi) last weel to visit my friend's izakaya (居酒屋: a Japanese-style pub), I got my eye on this old-style shichiya (質屋: a pawn shop) near my friend’s place.
I felt like I was back in the 1950's.
According to Nationwide Pawnshop Union Alliance Society (全国質屋組合連合会) in Japan, the pawnbroking dates from the Kamakura period (鎌倉時代, around 1185-1333) and has a history of 700 years.
Until the 1960's, pawn shops were closely connected with people's everyday life and offered secured loans. However, the number of the shops has been decreasing with the development of the consumer loan business. There were over 20,000 shops across the country in 1958, but about 2,500 in 2009.
Many prosperous merchant families and estate owners run pawn shops as a sideline in the olden days. This shop might be one of the cases because my friend said that the shop operator holds real estate that would be a main source of income.
When I was a child, there were old-style shops like this in Azabu, but remaining pawnbrokers rebuilt their shops and houses into modern buildings for rent.
I think it's almost like a miracle that I can see the unchanged shop in central Tokyo.