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)
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)
Kawabata Zenzai Hiroba (川端ぜんざい広場)
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
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.