Iroha Yokocho: 100 markets

Retro shopping arcade

By Laura Welch   May 25, 2014 - 2 min read

Down a little-frequented part of Sendai's covered shopping arcade known as Sanmaru is a trip back in time to the Showa Period. Iroha Yokocho hasn't changed much since it was first built, during the recovery of the city after the air raids of the war. At first it was just a collection of people selling whatever they had left, then it became an organised market, the forerunner of what we can see today. As the number of residents grew, the area became more affluent and the emphasis of the businesses changed from daily necessities to entertainment.

Iroha Yokocho has two long, parallel corridors, each of which has a name. The one closest to Aoba-dori is called Aoba Alley, and originally hosted clothes and item shops. The other is Pine and Bamboo Alley, where restaurants and drinking establishments were based. Nowadays, each is a mixture of shops, from music to clothes, and restaurants.

There are also urban legends associated with this shopping area. One says that a powerful item was buried in the basement level by the shrine opposite, and that even today it brings good luck to the businesses and customers. 

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Laura Welch

Laura Welch @laura.welch

One of my favourite things about Japan is the wonderful variety of food, and I love to share what I find. When I'm not eating, you might find me singing karaoke or walking around hoping to make new discoveries!