Retro Shopping Experience: Onomichi Shotengai

GetHiroshima

Feb 2, 2019

Most Japanese towns have a covered shopping arcade - or shotengai - in their city center. In larger cities these places are packed with shoppers and people making their way to and from school and work, and you will find chain store that have taken over many of the spaces once occupied by small independent businesses.

In smaller towns, the shotengai retain their neighborhood feel, but, battling depopulation and competing with suburban shopping malls, they are struggling; many stores shuttered.

Onomichi, however, is bucking the trend. The shotengai in this waterfront town, that is the gateway to the Shimanami Kaido, is, at 1.2km, not only incredibly long, but feels like it is positively thriving. Suffused with mid-20th century ambience, it has a wonderful mix of long-running family businesses and trendy cafes and boutiques that coexist happily alongside each other.

The retro signage and shop fronts are an Instagramer’s dream and tiny alleyways shoot off on either side, begging to be explored by people looking for hole-in-the-wall discoveries.

In the summer (June and July), the arcade hosts Saturday night markets, when, in addition to the usual stores, locals set up stalls selling street food and offering festival games for kids. The arcade is most lively during Onomichi’s many shrine festivals which usually take in the shotengai.

Cafe and souvenir shop Yuyu, housed in a repurposed public bathhouse about halfway along the arcade, now a cafe and souvenir shop, is a must stop, but Onomichi rewards wandering. The best discoveries are invariably stumbled upon by chance. Take some time to let yourself get lost in Onomichi and I guarantee you will find something that will delight you.

Onomichi Shotengai

Address: 3-17 Higashigosyo-cho, Onomichi-shi

Website:https://www.okaimonomichi.com/ (Japanese website is only available)

Phone: +81-848-23-5001 (Japanese language only)

Yuyu

Address: 1-3-20 Tsuchidou, Onomishi-shi,

Website: https://www.ononavi.jp/eating/tearoom/detail.html?detail_id=135 (Japanese website is only available)

Phone: +81-848-25-5505(Japanese language only)

Best seasons: Summer but all year

Fee: Free

Access to Onomichi:

http://www.ononavi.com/access/detail.html

Information about transport passes:

Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass

http://www.hiroden.co.jp/en/e-vhtp.html

JR-WEST RAIL PASS

https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/

*Information is correct as of January 2019.

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