By Brian Kowalczyk - OCT 31，2018
The Tennocho neighborhood of Yokohama was previously dominated by textile mills and known for its many drinking establishments frequented by factory workers after their shifts. It has changed significantly over time as factories were replaced by a modern business park and boisterous izakaya (casual pubs) made way for restaurants, cafes and service shops like salons. The shōtengai even boasts a K-1 fighting gym and a beach soccer school. While modern shops have replaced older ones, residents take pride in the fact that the majority of the businesses are locally owned. There are few chain stores.
The name Tennocho originates from Tachibana Shrine, which has roots that can be traced back to the Kamakura period. The shrine was previously called Gozutenno, named after a god common to the Shinto and Buddhist religion. Tachibana Shrine remains an important part of the neighborhood with many of the local events still centering around it.
The local community is tightly knit and elected officials, shop owners and workers cooperate to make events a success, consequently strengthening the relationships in the neighborhood. Due to this high level of cooperation, Tennōchō is able to host many festivals and events throughout the year. Exemplifying this is a lively summer festival held during the 2nd week of June. All local business owners get involved in carrying the traditional omikoshi (portable shrine) through the streets of town. Restaurants and bars set up stands in front of their shops offering special festival fare.
The Noryosai is another high-spirited festival that is held yearly on the last Sunday of August. The courtyard of Tachibana Shrine is converted into a “beer garden” (alcohol at shrines is relatively common in Japan as sake is historically interwoven with religion). All the beer stands are run by local bar/restaurants and a variety of 10~15 kinds of beer is offered including Shirohonoka (a premium white beer) on tap.
There is a beer fest in the fall, too. This one might be the busiest day of the year for the shōtengai. In addition to food and drink stalls, a wrestling ring is set up in Tennocho Park for live pro-wrestling matches. There are even “pro-wrestling” lessons for little ones aspiring to get in the ring.
Not everything revolves around beer in this vibrant shōtengai. In November there is a flea market highlighted by a children’s kabuki (a traditional Japanese dance/play) performance. Kindergarteners and elementary school students practice for months to perform on stage. In October children can also enjoy a special Halloween event. Around 30 participating shops in Tennocho are set up as locations where children dressed in costumes can go and get treats.
Quite a few international residents live in the area (mainly due to the nearby business park that employs a significant number of foreign staff members), so native denizens are used to seeing foreign faces. The local shōtengai office has been working to help shops make menus in English (or other common languages).
One note of interest for art history buffs: the famous ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) depicting Hodogaya was created by renowned master Hiroshige as he gazed upon a bridge that was located right next to present-dayTennōchō Station. Just outside of the station’s south exit is a memorial where the bridge originally stood.
Shopping & Dining Recommendations
Events & Festivals
Noryosai (Summer Festival)
Hodogaya Kids Kabuki, Flea Market
Near "Tennocho Station": Sotetsu Line