Stroll Yokohama’s Shopping Streets
Shotengai means “shopping street” in Japanese, and these commercial districts, often several blocks long, are the heart of local neighborhoods throughout the country. Niche boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants and bars are only some of the gems you’ll find in a classic shotengai. Check out these streets in Yokohama, where exploration and discovery are just as important as shopping itself.
A shotengai that leads to Gumyoji, Yokohama’s oldest temple.
Stroll through the arcade for some shopping and worshipping.
Gumyoji Shotengai is located close to Gumyoji Station, which is served by both the Keikyu Line and the Yokohama Municipal Subway Line. Start your walking tour at the subway station. Gumyoji is not only the oldest temple in Yokohama but it’s also an important cultural property. The shotengai acts like a pathway leading to this special place of worship. Some people say that the arcade, built in 1956, was once the greatest in the East but, regardless of what its ranking is, the vibrancy created by local shoppers, visitors and commuting students crowded under the arcade’s ceiling is unparalleled. A liquor store displaying an array of rare Japanese sake and shops selling freshly made tofu are just some of the pleasures you’ll come across on this walk to the temple. While not all businesses cater to the youth, the street is a mecca of opportunities for mature shoppers in the neighborhood. Midway, there’s even a bridge called Kannobashi which crosses the Ooka River, further guiding travelers along to their destination: Gyumoji.
As you stroll past the pickle shop and retro restaurants, you’ll find that you’ve finally reached Gumyoji of Koyasan Shingon-shu. The majestic Nio guardian statues, figures believed to protect Buddhist temples from evil spirits, on either side of the gate date back to the late Kamakura period. Here, your stroll comes to an end, but what lies ahead will surely interest the path’s pious passersby. In the spring, walk along the Ooka River to see cherry blossoms in bloom against the night sky. If you venture a little further, you’ll approach Noge, an old-fashioned riverside neighborhood and one of Yokohama’s best-kept secrets. In this lively drinking district is the two-story Miyakobashi Shotengai. The retro shopping street is packed with pubs and bars, making it the ideal evening stop.
Gumyoji Shotengai is located close to Gumyoji Station via either the Keikyu Line or the Yokohama Municipal Subway Line. Use whichever line is most convenient for you. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to browse through the arcade’s diverse range of shops and eateries.
Part student district and part bustling business street, Rokkakubashi Shotengai is where seemingly humble stores turn out to be distinguished gems.
Yokohama is famous for its dynamic shotenagi that date back to pre-war times, but Rokkakubashi Shotengai’s vibrancy is unparalleled due to its double function as a popular college town. Since Kanagawa University’s inception in 1930, shops targeted at younger customers have surged in numbers. The street’s casual clothing stores, thrift shops and souzaiya (Japanese delicatessens) are common in other shotengai too, but here you’ll also find a specialty guitar shop and a used bookshop run by a literature connoisseur, both of which thrive amidst the area’s populous student crowd.
Also striking is the sheer number of bars in this shotengai. Ranging from classy to casual and everything in between, Rokkakubashi Shotengai’s diverse bar scene truly sets it apart from other shotengai in the country. This shopping street is perhaps the only place where you can walk past an old-fashioned goldfish shop, then come across a hidden bar or relaxing cafe several steps later. Discovering that a humble shoe repair shop is actually capable of refurbishing luxury-brand shoes using top-class craftsmanship is yet another charming point of this shopping district.
Rokkakubashi Shotengai is located close to the West Exit of Hakuraku Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line. The shotengai spans the 300-meter distance to the Rokkakubashi bridge. Also check out Nakamise Street, which runs parallel to the main shopping street. You’ll find everything you need in the area. It’ll make you envy the people who live here.
Echoing with the lively calls of shopkeepers up and down, this fun and nostalgic shopping street may be right up your alley.
Yokohama Kohukuji Matsubara Shotengai is often referred to Yokohama’s version of Ameyoko (an area in Ueno, Tokyo, that’s a vibrant, bustling shopping street). Locals sometimes call it Matsubara Shotengai for short. During the post-war period, this shotengai merged with Kohuku Temple’s Monzen Shotengai. The street runs along Tokaido, the most important of the Five Routes (Gokaido in Japanese) which connected the capital (now Tokyo) to outer provinces during the Edo era. Tokaido’s history goes further back still, as the route was one of seven streets established in ancient Japan’s Gokishichido (administrative units organized during the Asuka Period).
Lining this historically rich street are various businesses, from yaoya (greengrocers) selling fresh fruits and vegetables, to fish markets, futon (Japanese mattress) shops, cigarette stands, souzaiya (Japanese delicatessens) and stores specializing in traditional Japanese sweets and dried foods. The vegetables are locally sourced in Yokohama, and the fish come straight from piers in Kanagawa and Shizuoka. Shop owners work directly with local vendors and are well versed in all their products, so a quick, lively chat with them can go a long way. During winter, hanten (a traditional Japanese garment) are available at various clothing shops. The shopkeeper’s persuasive call to buy one of these, rather than a modern down jacket, will reach your ears in no time. The street also has some cozy cafes where you can give your feet a well-deserved rest, yet another reason why this iconic shotengai continues to thrive beyond the Showa era to the modern day.
Kohukuji Matsubara Shotengai: Six minutes away from the Sotetsu Line’s Tennocho Station by walking down Tokaido Street in the direction of Yokohama. Though the accessibility is not so great, this shopping street offers an array of quality and reasonably priced products and its own great atmosphere which should be the reason why this street attracts a lot of people every day.