Two Neighborhood Businesses Just Down the Street
We live in Umedamachi, a relatively tiny residential area squeezed in between the Toshogu, Miyamachi, Dainohara, and Kamisugi neighborhoods surrounding us. It is a fairly typical Japanese neighborhood with private homes, apartment buildings, and a few neighborhood businesses clustered along the two main streets bordering Umedamachi. There is the usual mix of a Family Mart convenience store, a laundromat, three bakeries, a dry cleaner, and three or four small restaurants.
Two Neighborhood Businesses that Intrigued Us
But there are two neighborhood businesses just down the street from us in Umedamachi that stand out. We pass by them almost every time we go out for a walk, run errands, or head to Toshogu Station or to downtown Sendai. We actually discovered the rice shop before we moved from Seattle; they are listed on Google Maps. The barbershop down the street from the rice shop is another local neighborhood institution.
Both of the neighborhood businesses are small, old, and perhaps just a little run down. They definitely date back to the Showa Era. That only adds to their charm. Especially the owners of the barbershop love gardening and every square inch of what little space they have in front of the shop is covered in plants and planters. The rice shop is a bit more practical, with rust marked iron shutters instead of the plants.
When we first moved to Umedamachi a year ago, we were especially intrigued by the rice shop. Some days we walked by in the morning, and it was open. On other days the shutters were down until midafternoon. Some days it didn’t look like it opened at all. On other days it was open until well past dinner time. So much for regular store hours.
Catering to the Umedamachi Neighborhood
After a while, we figured it out. Neighborhood businesses in Umedamachi cater to the local residents. They are open when their customers expect them to be in the afternoon and evening. Most Japanese housewives shop every day, usually in the afternoon, to plan for dinner. This also seems to be the time for deliveries. Once we realized that the strange store hours of our little rice shop made more sense.
The other one of our neighborhood businesses operates much the same way. Looks like early mornings are not when you get your hair cut in Umedamachi. But stopping by for a quick trim on your way home seems to work well. Tonight, the barbershop was busy when we passed by after dark. And if you really need your hair done right away, no worries. The barber and his wife live above the shop. Just ring the bell, and one of them will come down.
Many neighborhood businesses in Japan still work this way. Store hours tend to be somewhat flexible. It all depends on when it makes the most sense to be open.
If you would like to join us on one of our food tours or get a personal tour of Sendai, please feel free to contact us for rates and availability.