Odaiba onsen to close in September

The Odaiba Ōedo-Onsen Monogatari on Tokyo Bay will close its doors permanently on September 5, ending 18 years of operations. The old Edo-themed theme park onsen opened in March 2003 and was visited by as many as 1,000,000 people annually.

The current pandemic was not cited as a reason for the closure. Rather, the commercial land lease is due to end in December 2021. The land was leased by the Tokyo metropolitan government under a commercial-use fixed-term lease. At the end of this type of lease, the land must be returned to the landowner. However, leases can be extended if the tenant and landowner agree. It seems like an agreement could not be reached in this case.

These types of commercial land leases are popular with roadside retail shops, shopping malls, and other facilities. At first, these commercial lease terms were limited under the Act on Land and Building Leases to 10 ~ 20 years, but a revision in 2008 saw the lease terms limited to 10 ~ 50-year terms. Oedo Onsen’s lease was under the old act and limited to 20 years.

The operator currently manages 38 onsen-ryokans and other bathing facilities across Japan.

Odaiba is a man-made island completed in 1979. The government pushed to attract businesses and developers to this area but the crash of the bubble economy and the economic malaise in the 1990s meant no buyers could be found. In a last ditch attempt to fill the island, the government leased off the vacant land under fixed-term leases, some as short as 10 years.

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun, June 23, 2021.

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