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Knock-off Japanese street in China invites tourists, criticism


Oct. 5 (UPI) — A street in a Chinese city made to look like a popular district in Japan is drawing crowds but also criticism of copyright infringement.

The 100-meter-long “Ichiban Street,” made to resemble the neon-filled streets of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, is going viral on Chinese social media as influencers flock to the area in Foshan, Guangdong Province, Kyodo News reported Monday.

The street was built ahead of Golden Week, China’s weeklong holiday season that began Thursday and ends Wednesday. Due to restrictions against nonessential travel amid COVID-19, grounded Chinese travelers unable to go to Japan could be hitting the road to visit Ichiban Street instead, according to the report.

Online platforms are helping Chinese travelers discover the street.

“I saw the video of the street via Douyin [the Chinese version of TikTok] and came from Guangzhou to take photos,” said a man in his 20s, according to the South China Morning Post. “This Japanese street looks very interesting. I was in Japan last year. Standing on this street, it really feels like being on those streets in Japan.”

The makeshift Japanese-style road in Foshan includes Japanese-language signs, taxis with Yokohama license plates, and even a Tokyo Metro subway sign. A store sign that read, “Fujiwara Tofu Store” could also be seen in footage. The name of the store refers to a fictional shop owned by Bunta Fujiwara, a character in the Japanese street racing manga series Initial D, according to Kyodo.

As the street receives publicity on Chinese social media platforms, some features are being modified during the state holiday.

Taiwanese magazine Mirror Media reported Monday some of the Japanese flags on Ichiban Street were taken down as China celebrated National Day on Thursday. National Day commemorates the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Street signs displaying Japanese brand names have also been criticized as copies created without permission, Taiwanese media says.

Japan is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese nationals. According to Chinese travel agency CTrip, more than 9 million Chinese visited Japan in 2019, roughly equivalent to the population of Tokyo.


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