"Continuing a small toy shop for five generations is a kind of miracle,” says Masaki Terao, 58, proprietor and purse-string holder at Toys Terao, which his family has been running on Nakamise-dori in front of Asakusa's Sensoji Temple for nearly 130 years.

Terao and his wife, Mayumi, 53, put the family's sticking power down to a combination of canny business sense, relentless penny-pinching, and a belief that what they are doing is important. Plus, there's the good fortune to be on the right side of the old three-rule proverb: location, location, location.

The Terao shop is one of about 80 tiny establishments that line the 250-meter-long shopping street that starts inside the great red Kaminarimon entrance gate and ends just short of the second, grander Hozomon gate.