A mere 30 years ago, the Tenjin shopping district consisted of only the Nishitetsu arcade, Iwataya Department Store, and Shintencho. Though the district wasn’t what it has become today, it was a wonderful childhood experience for me to visit Tenjin. I looked forward to meals with my family, shopping for clothes once or twice a year, and the raffle held just before Christmas. It was a delightful time. The events at Shintencho never failed to captivate me, including Santas zipping around on scooters and lucky draws for cows! During Dontaku, the Shintencho shopkeepers always had the most spectacular parade, getting together to create exciting events.
Shintencho was created in 1945, the year the war ended. Hakata merchants roused themselves to restore vitality and happiness to an area that had been devastated by air raids. A total of 600 proprietors wanted to move into the shopping district, and this number was whittled down to 250. Finally, 78 were selected based on such conditions as trustworthiness, punctuality, and the ability to get along with people as if they were family members. The following year, a Shintencho symbol was also created, and a lyric contest was held to produce a song for the Shintencho area, which was composed to celebrate the district’s first anniversary.In those days, there were weak ties between department stores and shops in the busy shopping districts near Hakata Station and Kawabata, and the area as a whole lacked dynamism. The merchants of Shintencho noticed this and, in 1945, gathered to create a formal association of businesses in Tenjin, the toshinkai, which was dedicated to making Tenjin a community hub and a center of activity in the city. People say the toshinkai placed great importance on cooperation between businesses, shops and merchants in Tenjin. That spirit is being kept alive in today’s We Love Tenjin Association. Tenjin expanded with the construction of the underground shopping mall and the Tenjin Core Building in 1976. This was followed by the opening of the IMS Building and Solaria Plaza in 1989, and Daimaru Elgala and Mitsukoshi Fukuoka in 1997. Thus today’s Tenjin was created. Once an undersized shopping area, dreams and hopes blossomed in its place to create a bustling modern neighborhood that attracts people throughout both Kyushu and Japan! Happy birthday, Shintencho!