Abandoned Drugstores a Mainstay of Haikyo in Tokyo?

The other day I wrote about Harumi Bridge, a haikyo in the heart of Tokyo. Continuing the Tokyo haikyo series, it seems that there is no shortage of abandoned drugstores even in Japan’s metropolis. With little effort, I recently visited two – one intentionally and the other by accident. All information below is current as of June 2022.

Abandoned drugstore #1: Aozora in Shinjuku

Tokyo haikyo: abandoned drugstore in Shinjuku

The Aozora pharmacy near Shinjuku Gyoen park has been abandoned since at least 2008. It is now covered with ivy and other creepers as it descends into various stages of disarray. The second floor of the two-storey building was apparently once occupied by a clinic called “Mura (something),” but it is impossible to verify as the actual structure as been overtaken by plant life.

In the only opening of the bush is a sign that proclaims that the now-defunct business was a member of the Yotsuya police station‘s anti-crime cooperative for apartments. What that entailed exactly, I’m not sure.

Tokyo haikyo: abandoned drugstore in Shinjuku

The green-endowed structure stands out among the gray and beige buildings that otherwise line the residential street in Shinjuku Icchome. Next to it is a parking lot and a non-descript apartment building. Across the street sits a hotel of the Toyoko Inn chain.

Tokyo haikyo: abandoned drugstore in Shinjuku

Going around the parking lot side, I found a door covered with wines and boarded up windows, but otherwise nothing very exciting.

Door covered in vines

Location

Abandoned drugstore #2: Maruni in Sendagi

Tokyo haikyo: abandoned drugstore in Sendagi

I stumbled across another abandoned drugstore in Sendagi, Bunkyo Ward the other day completely by accident. I was walking down a prefectural road with a couple of friends to head to Yanaka Ginza shopping street when this caught my eye.

Retro condom vending machine

Upon further inspection, I discovered it was a retro condom vending machine. The Japanese above the two advertised packs reads, “for correct family planning.” Needless to say, I doubt this machine dispenses anything anymore. And if it did, I’m not sure the product would work as planned after sitting here for years.

Looking up, I found the store to which the vending machine belonged was in equally dire straits. A faded signboard on the two-storey building read マルニ薬局 (Maruni drugstore). Its tin facade was rusting, with its narrow awning filled with holes and rips.

Maruni drugstore

Looking at the vertical sign, it once sold both OTC drugs and traditional Chinese medicine.

Vertical signboard of abandoned drugstore

I did some Googling but couldn’t find any information on the drugstore except that it was permanently closed. I did, however, find it listed on this online directory from 2000 but not in the 2007 edition. Which means it stopped operating 21 years ago at the earliest and 16 years ago at the latest.

The curtains were not fully closed, so I was able to press my phone camera against the glass and get a snap of the interior through the slit.

Inside Maruni drugstore

To the top right was a “Kanebo Eroica” sign. Curious, I looked it up and discovered it was a fragrance for men released by the cosmetics company in 1970. The product line is still available today. I also looked up エスファイトゴールド [Esfight Gold], the sign with gold text on red in the far back behind what I presume was the counter. I found it is a vitamin B pill that provides relief for eye strain, stiff shoulders and back pain.

So Maruni appeared to have been your run-of-the-mill chemist, although it remains a mystery why it went out of business.

Location

Maruni drugstore is sandwiched between a real estate agency and a sweet potato gallery.

I am sure there are plenty more abandoned drugstores in Tokyo, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you know anything that could remotely qualify as a haikyo hidden in the corners of Japan, let me know!

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