A shotengai is a common sight around japan, especially in cities, and consists of a large collection of stores, shops, and restaurants lined up along a broad, usually covered, street. It usually looks something like this.
The shotengai in Rikuzentakata, however, looks like this.
Mirai Shotengai, which means “shotengai of the future,” is comprised of small, temporary structures painted in various pastel colors. What it lacks in size and frenzy, it makes up for in charm, and optimism. And while there may not be hundreds of stores to choose from, there is surprising variety behind that painted sign. Within the small compound you can find a bookstore, printing store, Softbank cell-phone specialist, hair salon, sushi restaurant, two cafes, a bakery, and more.
It offers up a charming way to spend a few hours and is a good place to take visitors to show them the true spirit of Rikuzentakata. Mirai Shotengai isn’t large or flashy, but it’s warm, welcoming, and full of spirit, and that’s what keeps the locals coming back again and again.
So, take a lazy Sunday afternoon. Walk over the wooden bridge and wander through the shotengai. Buy a light novel or magazine at the bookstore; chat to a friendly cafe owner; buy a small slice of homemade cheesecake. As you feel the breeze and soak up the atmosphere, sipping some tea, you’ll wonder.
How could anyone want more than this?