It’s old news that Satomi Pet House in Kaminarimon closed in April. But as you never marked the end of this era, maybe you should. Because you realise soon there will be no shops left like this – the family-run outlets selling electrical, kitchen goods, gardenware, bicycle gear and pet supplies. They’ll never return, they’ll be as extinct as the need to be at home to take a phone call.

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When you wrote about him a year ago, chairman Katsuhiro Satomi told you the shop’s days were numbered. The closing-down sale offered 50 percent off most things. Neighbours came from all around. You bought stuff you probably don’t need. That’s OK. A man in a maroon sports jacket said gruffly, It doesn’t matter if it’s cheap, what matters is whether you need it! He was probably right. You were going to buy the last remaining two footstools to put plants on, but a cheerfully plump old lady in the queue talked you into letting her take one.

On closing day, as the staff looked on, dressed in their Beauty Pro pet-food supplement windbreakers, the scrap metal guy took away all the shelving.

The truck left and there was the footstool woman, Haru Kashima, who lives almost next door. She is 84. Apart from the piece of furniture she also scored a new fish tank. She takes you into her shopfront garage to show you. You know, I moved here 60 years ago from Saitama, she says. Everything was burned from the war. We were a rice shop. Then we sold vegetables. This street used to be very lively. There was a pachinko place on the corner. A newspaper shop. Opposite Satomi there was a sushi shop. Look at my goldfish. They’re big aren’t they. They came from goldfish-catching sideshow at a festival. My great grandson caught 10, but the others died. I’d say two is a good number wouldn’t you?

They are the biggest two goldfish you’ve seen in your life.

She has her own recipe for business, selling long-life food supplies like condiments and onions out of the garage that fronts onto her living room. At 84 years old and owning her building, she won’t need to get rich at it.

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