Located in Tokyo's Shibamata district, Katsushika City, Kawajin was founded in 1790 during Japan's Edo period (1603-1868) and became a cultural landmarks of sorts, with appearances in several Japanese novels and films.
It is also a popular spot with both tourists and locals, particularly for weddings and memorial services and is famous for its specialty in freshwater carp and eel dishes.
Restaurant owner says he did not see any "bright signs"
The eighth-generation president of Kawajin, Kazuki Amamiya, said that he had no choice but to close the restaurant as he did not see any "bright signs".
On Jan. 7, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide declared a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and several neighbouring prefectures, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
Under the state of emergency, bars and restaurants have been asked to close at 8pm, and halt the sale of alcohol at 7pm. Should they refuse to do so, their names will be publicly disclosed, while compliance means that they will be eligible for a subsidy of ¥60,000 (S$770) per day.
In addition, residents have been asked to stay home after 8pm and refrain from non-essential outings.
Amamiya added that the eatery had reached its limit, despite having already reduced the utility costs and making full use of government support, amidst a drop in customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As per the restaurant's president:
"It’s a pity that I couldn’t keep the baton going from the previous generation; it ended with my generation."
Closing of restaurant raises fears of freshwater cuisine's disappearances
The restaurant's impending closure has also raised concerns for the future of freshwater cuisine.
The curator of Katsushiko Ward Tourism Division, Sakae Taniguchi, said that if Kawajin disappears, there will be fewer opportunities for people to become familiar with freshwater cuisine.
As of Jan. 18, Japan has recorded a total of 333,134 Covid-19 cases with Tokyo alone reporting 1,204 new cases on the same day.
Top image from Kawajin_shibamata Instagram