Anyone who visits or lives in Hiroshima quickly becomes familiar with Hondori the massive, covered shopping street in the center of Hiroshima city with an abundance of shops and cafes. What fewer people see are the areas around Hondori. If you decide to get off the beaten path and go onto one of the small side streets you’ll be transported to a different world of smaller shops and cafes, shops with history and shop people who welcome you.
All you have to do is turn at Doutor coffee shop (Beams shop on the right) to find a great variety of places. I found shops along this street leading down to Peace blvd. that sell everything from modern clothes to traditional Japanese items, to western import dishes, to electric guitars, to shoes and even to traditional ramen noodles- this area holds it all.
Doutor is a good starting point to explore this “Ura-bukkuro” area (means “behind” Fukuromachi). If you happen to want an early morning coffee, this (and Starbucks) might be one of your only chances to get one. While most of the smaller coffee shops are closed, this branch of the major chain is open at 8 am and conveniently placed in the center of Hondori. They have good sandwiches and pastries along with great drinks. The yogurt fruit smoothies that are new on the menu are especially tasty. They might not be homemade but they sure are good. Doutor is the starting point from which Hondori connects to a side street. This side street is home to the bustling area that the rest of this article is about.
Matsunaga – traditional Japanese goods
If you have wandered down this street to start your adventure and if it happens to be early in the morning, before 11, most of the shops will be closed. The first shop that you will find open before 11 am is on your right. If you decide to go in, you will go out with a smile on your face. This shop is run by two lovely, elderly ladies. The shop has traditional Japanese clothing and accessories. One of their best selling products is a type of traditional Japanese handkerchief. They also have amazing cloth books that unfold into handkerchiefs. The book has pictures and words depicting stories and places.
They also sell Yukata, summer kimono, and many other interesting things. It is a small, yet reasonably priced store, that is well worth popping in.
Big Boss Guitar
If you like guitars or need any equipment, this is an amazing shop dedicated to only one thing.
Guitars of all shapes and sizes. Need an amp or a bass pedal? They have those too.
If you are need modern kitchenware of any sort you should defiantly visit this shop. It might be a little out of your way but you will not be disappointed.
This shop has 6 floors of kitchenware- bowls, chopsticks, pressure cookers, pots and pans this store has it all. If you need anything for your kitchen, this is the place to go.
This store also supplies major stores and restaurants so you know you are getting quality items.
If you are looking for original clothes, spare buttons or original materials or designs you can head over to Calme. It is a small shop with a warm atmosphere.
There is a lot of wood and warm light here, which makes it feel homey. The selection of comfortable vintage clothes and many other knick-knacks make this store an interesting one to visit.
Another store with comfy American style clothes is Chums. Originating in Utah, this hiking and camping type store has made its way to Japan, and more recently to the lovely city of Hiroshima.
It has a lot of shirts, but they also have accessories like paracord bracelets.
In the back, they have some of the coolest sleeping bags that I have ever seen. One has quotes, words and lots of colors. This sleeping bag perfectly sums up this store.
On the other end of the clothing spectrum, there is the high-end brand fashion Maree Flamingo boutique.
This is a small but high-end store that has everything for your modern fashion needs. It stocks clothing from top fashion designers, so it is quite expensive.
If you get your clothes at Flamingo, you will definitely catch the attention of others around you.
This shoe shop is popular with young customers and has a good variety of shoe styles and brands. If you want dress shoes, they have them. If you want running shoes you only have to pick a pair.
If you want Converse, they have an entire wall full of them. It is open air and impossible to miss. With good quality shoes, reasonable prices and helpful employees- Garage Fine is a great choice for all your shoe needs.
Across the street is Marimekko. If you are a fan of bold colors and patterns this is the shop for you.
According to the website, Marimekko is originally from Finland, it first opened in 1951, but is now a global brand of quality furniture and design. Bags, shirts, skirts and other items fill this store will color and incense adds wonderful smells.
It is even connected to the Pencil shop next door via a hole in the wall.
Pencil is a shop with a variety of items from dishes to classy furniture that normally would not be seen together, but seem perfectly at home in this shop.
The light and wonderful smells make you feel like you are floating through the shop while looking at all of the beautiful items for sale.
There is also a Shanti yoga studio in this building- group classes for all levels, men and women welcome.
The second floor of the Pencil building has a great cafe with indoor and terrace seating, called the Blue Flat Cafe.
Blue Flat Café
Above the Pencil shop is a restaurant where you can go for lunch. You walk up the steep stairs to find a patio with tables and chairs. You can sit outside or you can go inside and sit in the low booths or comfy chairs.
They serve mostly western food like pizza and pasta but I you want Japanese food you can get that too. Once you finish your meal you can go up to the front of the restaurant where there is a big case of delicious deserts that you simply can’t say no to.
Hakata Ippudo Ramen
Do you like Ramen? If yes, then you have to go to Hakata Ippudo. It can get crowded around lunch, but there is good reason for this, as it is amazing!
You pick from a huge selection of ramen noodle dishes. You can choose your noodle type and add in chilies or garlic. It is personally my favorite ramen place in the city. Apparently, Ippudo Ramen is very popular all over Japan as well as NYC and other major ramen loving cities around the world!
I highly recommend it. Lupicia
Lupicia is an amazing and fresh shop with one of the widest varieties of teas that I have ever seen.
They have boxes of tea lining the walls and on every flat surface. Any tea you could ever want is in this shop. It smells so nice and has so much variety that you could spend hours in there.
The people who work there are sweet and helpful.
Are you a dancer?
Have you worn down your point shoes or just need a new leotard? If so you should visit Chacott. This huge ballet specialty shop chain has this branch in Hiroshima.
You can find name brand dancewear for kids and adults, at a good price, so you can continue dancing your heart out.
You can find just as many shops in this area as there are on Hondori but with less of a crowd and the people who run the shops are very friendly and willing to help you. In this area you can find much more than just the shops mentioned in this article. For example there is a Mexican restaurant in this area called Graffity.
This is an amazing area which you should definitely visit if you have a chance. It has a wide variety of shops that will cover all of your interests. You might even find your new favorite shop.
You never know what you will find in this amazing area.
About the Author: Alexis Massey is 15 years old and goes to the Think Global School which currently calls Hiroshima home.
edited by jjwalsh