“Shōtengai, sometimes referred to as arcades in English, are focal points of community life in Japan. They come covered and open air. Some may be formally pedestrianized either all or part of the day, while the remainder usually become de facto pedestrian, as the narrow lane and heavy volume of foot and bicycle traffic preclude all but the most determined drivers. After the large umbrella topic of transit oriented development, shōtengai are what most fascinate me about urban development in Japan, and what I miss when I leave. In fact, the two often go hand in hand. Many shōtengai are located at or near rail stations, as is the case with Palm. The idea that an environmentally sustainable community should have ample basic services within close proximity to residents and transit, thus reducing or eliminating dependence on cars for daily needs, is a key part of the Site Selection credit criteria in the LEED rating system for green building. In Japan, nothing exemplifies this approach more than theshōtengai.”
The above quote is excerpted from this wonderful overview of pedestrian arcades in Japan, which uses Tokyo’s Musashi Koyama Palm Shotengai (武蔵小山商店街パルム) as an example:
N.B. At 800 meters, it is not the longest such arcade in Japan. Both the Motomachi arcade in Kobe (1200 m) and the Tenjin-basji-suji (2000 m) in Osaka are longer, and possibly several other arcades in Kansai.
And here is a high definition video of the same arcade: