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Kawabata shotengai

by - 4:41 AM

One of the places I like to go the most in Japanese cities are shotengai (商店街) . A shotengai is a shopping street, most of the time covered, lined with all kinds of shops : clothing, traditional souvenirs, street food , hairdressers, vegetables shops, 100 yen shops, and so on.

What I like th most in these streets is it reigns a complete mess in a somewhat retro atmosphere , as if it was a leap in the past, to the Showa period.
The shops have a selection of their products outside and sellers don't hesitate to go to others ones to chat and exchange some goods. It is not uncommon to find no one inside a shop and see the owner suddendly coming back with arms full of goods, apologizing for being absent.
While in the modern shops everything is well and visibly displayed, in shotengai stores, you have to rummage and seek to find your gem. If there are some expensive shops, most of the shops are quite cheap. It is a very good place to find traditional Japanese souvenirs : fans, fabrics, Japanese paper or trinkets.

Maybe it is a bit difficult to imagine so here are some pictures of one of the biggest shotengai in Fukuoka : the Kawabata shotengai  (川端商店街)


Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka


Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka
Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

The main shotengai of Fukuoka is located in the district of Hakata, close to Canal City, Kushida Shrine or Anpanman Museum, so it is really easy to go either by foot, by bus or subway.
I like to go there on weekends to buy Japanese paper, enjoy a zenzai (see below) or just walking around, even if I know all the shops now.
There are usually a lot of people in the afternoon so if you want to walk more quietly, I advise you to come before 1PM.
My only regret is that there is not enough street food. For my lunch, I like to pick up small food things at stalls: croquettes, yakitori, takoyaki before eating everything in a park nearby. In fact I feel that it is becoming a touristic area and shops seem to adapt accordingly. The proof is that the owl cafe is located there.

To end, here are my 3 favorite shops, not to be missed !

Tanaka washi (田中和紙)
Magasin de papier japonais, Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka
A traditional Japanese paper shop. There are so many different colors and patterns that I can easily spend one hour to choose a piece of paper. For those who have asked me, this is where I bought my scraps of paper to make my wall decoration (1 sheet = 150 yens) . There is also the origami sets small creation ones and you can even ask the lovely  staff to show you some simple folds. There are also shops in Tokyo !


Kawabata Zenzai Hiroba (川端ぜんざい広場)
Café, Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka
This small shop is specialized in zenzai, a traditional Japanese dessert made of red beans, prepared a kind of soup. It's sweet and delicious, and I enjoy it especially in winter, with a good green tea (well, I don't like tea...) . More than the delicious zenzai, I recommend this shop especially for its environnement. Indeed, it is one of the only places in town where you can see a Yamakasa festival tank all year and you can eat next to it ! Exciting !

Wa・rabi (わ・らび)
Boutique d'objets en tissu japonais, Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka
Wa · rabi (fern) is a cute modern and two-storey shop selling items made ​​with traditional Japanese fabrics. On the first floor there is a collection of handkerchiefs, tissues, purses, hair accessories and so on. If prices for fabrics are average (between 700 and 1000 yens depending on the size), hair accessories can be quite expensive (750 yens for a chouchou, 800 yens for a pi ). Nevertheless, it is hard not to be tempted. The second floor is a kimono shop that is very cheap during sales.


SOME VOCABULARY
Kaimono wo suru (買い物をする) : to do shopping
Bura bura (ブラブラ) : walk around
Nigiyaka (にぎやか) : lively
Gocha gocha (ごちゃごちゃ) : a mess
Shôwa (昭和) : period from 1926 to 1989


ACCESS & USEFUL INFORMATION

KAWABATA SHÔTENGAI (川端商店街)

Accès depuis la gare de Hakata :
Take the bus number 100, 113, 114, 201, 203, 506 or 507 and get off at Canal City Hakata-mae (キャナルシティ博多前). 10 minutes for 100 yens.

Accès depuis Tenjin :
Take the subway and get off at the next station Nakasu-Kawabata (中洲川端). Get out by the exit number 5.One way cost 100 yens and last 5 minutes.

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