Fukuoka: Market recovering step by step after 2 large fires

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Stores affected by fire damage operate in tents set up in Tanga Renga Hiroba plaza in Kokurakita Ward, Kitakyushu.

KITAKYUSHU — The Tanga Market in Kokurakita Ward, Kitakyushu, has had a brick-paved plaza installed as a temporary business space after two large fires this year severely damaged the shopping area. Four of the stores affected by the fires resumed their business in tents in the plaza earlier this month.

The market, which boasts more than a century of history, suffered as a result of two major fires this year, both of which seem to have started in the adjacent Shin-Tanga district. Restaurants and stores were also affected.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A fire rages near the Tanga Market in the early hours of Aug. 11.

According to the city’s fire department, the first fire, which ignited in the early hours of April 19, damaged an area of 1,924 square meters and 42 stores. The second fire, which broke out on the night of Aug. 10, affected an area of 3,324 square meters and 45 stores.

The second fire took place just as the market was beginning to pick itself up from the first, aggravating the plight of local business owners. However, debris from the August fire was removed by late October, and the market is now taking its first steps toward recovery.

Stores in the arcade section of the market remain open, though temporary fencing has been installed.

The Tanga Market shopping arcade association has created a temporary business plaza on a roughly 90-square-meter vacant lot near an entrance to the market, hoping to attract shoppers during the year-end sales season.

With the cooperation of local citizens, bricks were laid on the lot, which was named Tanga Renga Hiroba (Tanga brick plaza) upon its completion. Four stores, including a fruit and vegetable store and a dried foods store affected by the August fire, reopened inside tents on the lot.

The brick plaza launched on Dec. 3. After opening at 10 a.m., it was quickly filled by eager shoppers, and partially regained the market’s usual vibrant atmosphere.

A 73-year-old man who has been a regular customer of the market for about 30 years said, smiling: “The market was gloomy after the disaster. Today, the store staff looked cheerful.”

“After the fire, I was at a loss,” said dried foods store operator Tomohiro Yoshino, 51. He also smiled as he said, “I’m happy to be able to resume my business today thanks to the encouragement offered by customers. I want to work hard to attract many people to the market.”

“I lost everything in the fire. I had a really hard time of it,” the owner of the fruit and vegetable store said. “I’ll be giving it my all again from here on out.”

Next to the plaza, a 5-meter-tall Christmas tree has been set up. As part of efforts to contribute to the community, some 30 junior high school students in the city decorated the fir tree with Christmas ornaments.

“This is a Christmas present for everyone at the market. I hope it will cheer them up, even just a little bit,” said a female student in the second grade of the municipal Takasu Junior High School.

The Christmas tree will be illuminated from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day until Dec. 25.

The Japan News

The Kitakyushu municipal government is planning to construct four prefabricated buildings on a roughly 1,100-square-meter site that was damaged in the disaster. The four buildings will have a maximum of 26 units, with each expected to be about 16 square meters in size. More than a dozen stores have already expressed interest in moving in, according to the municipal government, which aims to have the stores at the site open as early as April next year.