Shopping & Dining Recommendations
By Brian Kowalczyk - OCT 31，2018
At the turn of the 20th century, Yokohama was thriving as a port city with a great deal of foreign trade and a considerable number of residents from abroad. The exportation of silk was one of the city’s major commercial industries of the time. In 1901 Heikichi Chikazawa started a silk exporting business and then followed it with the opening a linen store managed by his wife, Tsuru, in 1923. That store, located in Motomachi, eventually took on the name Chikazawa Lace and became the site of the company’s main shop.
According to Ryu Chikazawa, Director of Sales & Planning and great-grandson of founder Heikichi, the main focus of sales decades ago was on tablecloths and centerpieces. As times have changed, the market for gifts grew significantly, and in reaction to this, Chikazawa Lace shifted to make items of this sort a major part of its business. In Japan, the practice of giving gifts to clients and friends during certain set periods in the summer and winter–called chugen and oseibo, respectively–is commonplace.
Currently, towel handkerchiefs made in Imabari (Ehime Prefecture) are the number one seller at the Motomachi shop. Plush towels, fashionable pouches, shawls, parasols (seasonal) and more are other products that are available for purchase. For these items, prices generally run from ¥1000 to ¥10,000. If you are looking for something truly unique, peruse the displays of exquisite antique lace jewelry or lace imbedded in acrylic tabletops. Buyers searching for high-end items such as these are likely to find some gems.
Chikazawa Lace occasionally has international customers. Though their catalog is only in Japanese, some of the staff can speak basic conversational English, including Ryu Chikazawa himself. If you want to have a complex conversation on how certain lace is produced, a translator will be necessary.
|Name of Shop||Chikazawa Lace|
|Address||3-119 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama|
Bakery Uchiki Pan
By Matthew Hernon - OCT 31, 2017
Along with all the trendy cafés, unique craft shops and original brands, Motomachi is known for its delicious bakeries. The famous chain store Pompadour opened its first ever shop in the area in 1969 and has since gone on to expand its influence throughout the country. Further up the street towards Yamashita Park is an even more historic bakery, in fact it’s the oldest in town.
The renowned Uchiki Pan has been going strong for almost 130 years and continues to attract a large number of customers on a daily basis. It is considered one of the pioneer bread-making companies in Japan.
"My father is the fourth-generation president so it was actually my great-great grandfather Hikotaro Uchiki who opened the shop back in 1888," says Uchiki Pan factory manager Yutaka Uchiki. "He learnt from a talented British baker named Robert Clarke at a nearby place called Yokohama Bakery. From what I hear he had a huge amount of respect for Mr. Clarke and saw him as the authoritative figure when it came to making loaves. English bread has long been our bestseller, so you can still see that influence in the store today."
Made in-house (on the third and fourth floors) using hops and a long fermenting process, the style and taste of the English loaf at Uchiki Pan is said to be the same as it was back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a few decades after Japan had opened its borders to Western influences. Back then bread wasn't exactly the new rice, but it was in demand, and Hikotaro Uchiki's store was one of the best places to get it. The shop advertised itself as a purveyor of bread to British, American, German, and French living in the city, but soon enough its influence spread to Japanese people as well.
Down the years, the popularity of bread in this country has continued to rise. However, with supermarkets selling bread, pies and buns cheaply, it has become increasingly difficult for bakeries to survive. Uchiki Pan has done more than survive, however, becoming one of the most iconic shops in all of Yokohama. It’s loved by tourists and locals alike. The store's longevity is down to the quality of the produce, which all comes from the factory upstairs.
Mr. Uchiki lets us take some home to try. The English loaf (which costs ¥360 including tax) is on a completely different level to the bread you get from supermarkets and convenience stores, while the rye bread with cheese, fruits and nuts, is arguably even better. It is also cheaper (¥200) and a great option for keeping your body in balance as it has lower glycemic index than white flour. Other standout items include the lemon cream bread, cheese buns, apple pie, bean-paste donuts and panettone.
"We've got an excellent selection of freshly baked goods that aren't too filling," says Mr. Uchiki. "They are ideal for people who want to spend the afternoon relaxing at Yamashita Park with a light snack. More than that, I believe they have a big impact on new customers who want to come back for more."
|Name of Shop||Bakery Uchiki Pan|
|Opening Hours||9:00am - 7:00pm / Closed on Mondays (Tuesdays if Holiday)|
|Address||1-50 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama|
Fashion Boutique Fukuzo
By Matthew Hernon - OCT 31, 2017
One of the three leading brands during the famous hamatora (Yokohama traditional) fashion boom of the 1970s and 80s, Fukuzo is an iconic clothing store in the heart of Motomachi that has come a long way since its humble beginnings back in 1946.
Founder Fukuzo Morimoto created the business from next to nothing a year after World War II had ended. Demobilized, he returned to Yokohama to find the city left in ruins. His family had been bombed out of their home and were left with very little. One of the few items to have survived the devastation was a sewing machine that he decided to put to use. From there Fukuzo was born.
The shop started out as a stall (at the current site) selling cotton cloth handkerchiefs, but went on to expand its range to items of clothing. People had little in the way of money at the time and there was a scarcity of resources so the owner's objective was to create cheap items that would stand the test of time. The only way of achieving that would be to do the majority of the work in-house, from the cutting and sewing to the dyeing.
"That's still the case today," says Makiko Ando, manager of Fukuzo's main store in Motomachi. "We have a small factory on the second floor that customers can see through a window. This is where most of our products are made. It's not like a typical work place where you divide people up based on skill-sets. Here you have one person working from start to finish on a jacket, while another will create a blouse and so on. We have a number of different styles in the store or customers can choose their own pattern design and it will be ready in around three weeks."
According to Ms. Ando, the best-selling item among the ladies' collection is the Fukuzo blouse, whereas for men it's the polo shirt. Both feature the company's widely recognized seahorse trademark which was first introduced in 1964. The main target back then was young professional women. Inspired by the fashion trends of female college students, the look was smart and sophisticated. More than 50 years on and the concept of the brand has pretty much remained unchanged.
And why shouldn't it be that way? It is, after-all, a company with a strong brand identity. At one time, it was the place to go in Yokohama for trendy clothes. Those who added a bag from Kitamura and some shoes from Mihama had the three status symbols of hamatora. The trio of stores don't quite have the same kind of influence these days, however they remain a symbol of Motomachi’s originality and continue to attract many customers.
"Of course, we have introduced some new items down the years, but fundamentally things have remained the same," says Ms. Ando. "The style, the embroidery, the shape of the clothing, the fabrics, the manufacturing techniques; all of these things are no different now to how were they were decades ago. I don't see it ever changing."
|Name of Shop||Fashion Boutique Fukuzo|
|Opening Hours||10:30am - 7:00pm / Closed on Mondays (open if Holiday)|
|Address||3-127 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama|
Corner's Field Toyuka
By Matthew Hernon - OCT 31, 2017
Corner's Field is a little gem of a store that could easily be bypassed by people visiting Motomachi. Located on Craftsman Street, it doesn't look particularly captivating from the outside, but when you go inside you will be surprised by the quality of the products on display.
One of the reasons young people in particular may pass by is because of the first floor – the old-fashioned dresses, blouses and umbrellas on display don't come across as very enticing. Go up to the second floor, however, and everything starts to look and feel a lot different. You'll find beautifully hand-crafted pottery, exquisitely designed lacquerware, spoons, chopsticks, towels and all kinds of miscellaneous items. Great fun to look around and see what you can find, it is like having a large treasure chest of goods all on special offer.
"This store first opened here in Motomachi around 17 years ago," says Corner's Field owner Mr. Sumino. "I was previously based in Nagano working at a restaurant. That was many years ago and at the time it struck me how expensive it was for consumers to buy pottery items, lacquerware and various cooking utensils from retail stores. I could sell them much cheaper by buying directly from manufacturers and I had some good contacts in the industry so I thought why not try to use them."
"This shop initially just sold old Western clothes, but that wasn't particularly interesting. I felt an assortment of products would bring a wider range of customers and in general would prove more alluring. The fact that I could provide the goods at a reduced rate was another big advantage. Our Japanese ceramics, for example, are bought directly from the kiln so we can offer them at 30 to 50 percent below retail prices."
Things proved a little tough early on as Corner's Field didn't do any advertising. Word gradually started to get around, however, and now Corner's Field is attracting more customers than ever, including many from abroad.
"Actually, from the beginning we had a high proportion of international visitors," says Mr. Sumino. "I'm not really sure why. We don't have an English website and I can't speak any foreign languages. Of course, I try to communicate as best I can, though it is often with gestures [laughs]. Most customers tend to be interested in the items on the second floor, particularly our ceramics from Japan and lacquerware from Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia."
Some of the most popular products according to Mr. Sumino are the bento boxes and the wooden spoons as more and more people move away from metal ones. There are a lot of cooking-related products such as the ceramic grill, a pot with cute handles and a ramen-udon saucepan. Mixed in with all that you’ll find some cat figurines, high quality Imabari towels from Ehime in Shikoku, and even clogs. Boasting a wide selection of miscellaneous items, it really is an intriguing store that shouldn't be bypassed.
|Name of Shop||Corner's Field Toyuka|
|Opening Hours||11:00am - 6:00pm / Closed on Mondays (Open if holiday)|
|Address||5-199-2 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama|