Shopping & Dining Recommendations

Hommoku Base

Hommoku Base

Hommoku Base

By Brian Kowalczyk - OCT 31,2018

The residents of Honmoku welcomed a brand new community space to their neighborhood in April of 2018 called HOMMOKU BASE (spelled slightly different than the area, but pronounced the same). After surveys and much planning, the community leaders strove to create a barrier-free environment that all residents could use and enjoy. A wheelchair accessible bathroom, a nursing room for new mothers, and a space for all to use for meetings or events were incorporated into the concept to ensure every member of the community felt included.

A small cafe was also added as part of the plan. The cafe offers light food like pasta, beef curry, and pizza (all ¥700~¥800) and a mixture of drinks from coffee and tea (both ¥400) to alcoholic beverages, such as draft beer and cocktails (both ¥500). The cafe is more a service for local residents than a money-making venture, so prices are very reasonable. It also provides a place for residents to chat over a bite to eat.

Attached to the main room of HOMMOKU BASE is the makings of community FM broadcasting station. Music studio veteran, composer/keyboardist and Honmoku native Nobusuke Sasahara is the head of the radio station in the making. With a staff of about thirteen, he plans to broadcast 24 hours a day for the residents of Yokohama’s Naka Ward. Programming will cover local news and announcements, tourist information, traffic reports, weather/disaster alerts, and more. Plans are also in the works for English broadcasts with the prospect of Chinese and Korean programming, too.

If you look closely at the HOMMOKU BASE logo, which resembles a window from afar, you will notice that it is actually made up of four letters. The letters spell out the word “NEWS”, but are also meant to represent the four directions of the compass; north, south, east, west. From whichever direction you come from, you are welcome to stop by for a visit.

Name of Shop Hommoku Base
Opening Hours 11:00-19:00
Address 1-9 Honmokucho, Naka-ku, Yokohama
TEL 045-622-4411
Website http://hommoku-base.com/hommokubase/

Yasudaya Gofukuten

Yasudaya Gofukuten

Yasudaya Gofukuten

By Paul Mcinnes - OCT 31, 2017

Honmoku isn’t your typical Japanese shōtengai. It’s not covered with a roof and there is a road running through it so it’s not entirely pedestrian friendly. However, on both sides of the road there are nearly 40 stores of all shapes, sizes and themes. Much like Gumyoji, Honmoku is a local street catering to locals but also very accepting of foreign tourists and visitors too.

So it’s of no surprise, then, that Yasudaya Gofukuten takes pride of place on the shopping street. Gofuku means kimono (and kimono fabric/textiles) in Japanese and has been around (in various forms) for about 100 years. (It used be located in the Motomachi area of Yokohama but that store was destroyed in the earthquake of 1923.) It’s a colorful store and as you enter you are hit with a riot of hues, textures and items including hanten (traditional short jacket), sculptures, toys, dolls, arts and crafts, knick-knacks and general artisanal goods.

It’s a traditional kind of place that will appeal to those who like a more conservative style of clothing. One of the most impressive items is the hanten, which comes in an array of colors, materials and sizes. Even the more rotund gent can pull off a hanten, and this store stocks them in appropriate sizes. Yasudaya Gofukuten offers several hanten in vintage-style blue cotton, which also passes for something akin to selvedge denim. It can be paired with anything from summer shorts to jeans or trousers. Sure, other stores may sell hanten in silk fabric with quirky anime designs, but Yasudaya Gofukuten keeps it more traditional with kanji characters decorating the collar area of the jacket.

Mr. Hanyuda, who owns the store, says, “We pride ourselves on making things,” he says. “It’s all about craftsmanship. It’s not about timing and being quick. It’s about taking your time and creating the right item be it hanten, haori [long jacket] or sculpture. This store and history is making ceremonial clothes which won’t fade with time.”

When asked if it is culturally inappropriate for non-Japanese to wear Japanese traditional clothing Mr. Hanyuda explains, “Foreigners who are interested in Japan can learn a lot through tradition and textiles. So for me, anyone can wear these kinds of clothes. It doesn’t matter what race or nationality.”

It’s a quirky kind of store with so much to find and rake through at your own leisure. It may sound a little odd to find Barbie dolls alongside kimono textiles and wooden sculptures but in Japan it makes sense. Great for souvenirs and bits and pieces of Japanese history with lots of quirky items that will keep you occupied for hours, Yasudaya Gofukuten should definitely be one of your first stops on a tour of Honmoku. It’s a treasure chest of goodies that many tourists will genuinely love.

Monozukuri (artisanship) is a big deal in Japan and people place a lot of importance on handcrafted design. Yasudaya Gofukuten, along with various other stores in the area, takes a lot of pride in displaying a very much hands-on approach to design and textiles. It’s a refreshing perspective in a soulless age of chain stores and cheap manufacturing.

Name of Shop Yasudaya Gofukuten
Opening Hours 10:00am - 6:00pm / Closed on Sundays (open if Holiday)
Address 1-9 Honmokucho, Naka-ku, Yokohama
TEL 045-623-5781
Website http://gofuku.yasudaya.info/

Iwataya Liquor Store

Iwataya Liquor Store

Iwataya Liquor Store

By Paul Mcinnes - OCT 31, 2017

The Japanese have an image of being very reserved and quiet individuals. However anyone who has spent any time here will know that this description is fairly generalized, especially when it comes to nightlife. Head to Tokyo’s Shinjuku or Shimbashi on a Friday night and witness the revelry.

To tell the truth, the Japanese love their sake, especially local tipples such as nihonshu (rice wine), shochu (distilled liquor made from sweet potatoes, barley and even rice), and umeshu (plum wine). Weekends, national holidays and New Year’s celebrations are all excuses for the good people of Japan to fill their collective boots.

Yoshidamachi and various spots around Yokohama station and beyond are known as great drinking spots for locals and guests alike. A visit to one of the izakayas (Japanese bar) around here can see you make friends for life with some of the locals – and quickly dissipate the stereotype of Japanese as introverted as copious amounts of beer and spirits are consumed.

Along the main Honmoku shōtengai is the legendary Iwataya liquor store. It’s been in the same spot since 1923 serving the locals a huge variety of booze and accompanying snacks. Run by the Iwata family since the beginning, it’s a venerable institution in these parts. In addition to a large amount of beer and liquor, the store sells its very own original-label nihonshu made at a brewery in Niigata. You know you’re on to a good thing when the locals can’t get enough of it.

The store has a healthy amount of jorensan (regulars) who come through the doors from morning till night. There are a few foreigners who frequent Iwataya too but the present owner explains that “in the old days there used to be a fence that separated the American base from the street, which was primarily for local Japanese folk. However, about 30 years ago the Americans left, so we don’t see so many foreigners here as we did in the past.”

Iwataya, however, isn’t just your run-of-the-mill liquor store. If you peek through the curtain behind the cashier area you will see a cozy bar area. And it’s a beautiful thing that Iwataya allows customer to purchase their drinks in the main store and then proceed through the curtain to enjoy those very drinks with the locals and the staff.

The bar is open from 9am to 8pm so if you’re looking for a truly original hair of the dog or fancy a cheeky afternoon pint then this place is your very own paradise. Chat with the owners, buy some of their very own nihonshu, add a few beer chasers, and settle yourself behind the bar where you can make yourself at home. It’s a local establishment for people who love a drink at any time of the day.

It could be New York, Glasgow, London or Berlin, but it’s not. It’s Honmoku, and Iwataya is very much part of the local fabric with staff who have made an amazing career and life from having good times with their customers. It’s a true one of a kind.

Name of Shop Iwataya Liquor Store
Opening Hours 8:00am - 8:00pm / Closed irregularly
Address 1-36 Honmokucho, Naka-ku, Yokohama
TEL 045-622-8566
Website http://www.e-iwataya.jp/