by Danielle Tate-Stratton
Just a few steps from the traditional hustle and bustle of the Chinatown in Yokohama is an old neighborhood with a very different feeling. Motomachi could be considered Yokohama’s answer to Los Angeles’s infamous Rodeo drive and the shops and restaurants which line the cobblestone shopping street are known for their boutique style and desirable branding.
To this day, the influence those early European settlers had on the development of the area is obvious, as the main shopping street is paved with cobblestones and the buildings retain a decidedly European flair. If you’re looking for European food, this is a great area to get it—patisseries are common, and one bakery even dates to 1888, with lines out the door proving its continued popularity. German, French and Italian restaurants and cafés are nestled between boutique fashion and jewelry stores. Compared to other shopping areas in Tokyo like Omotesando or Roppongi Hills, Motomachi boasts more unique small boutiques and Japanese. Browse through one of a kind pieces which could easily have come off the red carpet, and then enjoy a post shopping snack at any one of a number of bakeries and cafés proffering delectable cake sets and a cozy European atmosphere.
After your snack, follow the signs to the cemetery and the Harbor View Park, and head up a fairly steep hill to enjoy views overlooking Yokohama which make the effort of climbing the hill by foot worthwhile. The park has a variety of reasonably priced museums, many related to Japanese literature.
From Shibuya, take the Tokyu Toyoko line to Motomachi-Chukagai Station (Motomachi exit), otherwise, from Yokohama Station transfer to the Minatomirai line and exit at the same station. Visit www.welcome.city.yokohama.jp/eng/tourism/spot/spot1010.html
Local Spotlight: Tomei’s
Just one street over from the main Motomachi Shopping street (head away from the river), Tomei’s is a fantastic spot for wine lovers! Opened by husband and wife team Tomomi and Michael, Tomei’s mission is to bring boutique label wines from the Napa-Sonoma area of California to Tokyo. Michael, who grew up in the Napa region and has over 20 years of experience with the area wine, explains that as the importer of the wines they sell, many are unique to their shop in Japan. All are of a restaurant quality, and Tomei’s actually provides wine to some well known eateries in Tokyo such as Fujimama’s. There are two distinct rooms in Tomei’s, a by-the-glass Wine Bar, where patrons can gather around a large welcoming table, and the Tasting Room, where you can sample four wines for just ¥500. While you sample the wines you will also experience a lesson in wine tasting as different qualities of the wine are discussed and explained to you.
Michael and Tomomi chose the Motomachi area as it is close to where Tomomi grew up in Yokohama, and because they felt their wine bar concept would go over well in the unique boutique area. They find their clientele is about half foreign and half Japanese, and as it is a bilingual shop, both sets of clientele will feel equally welcomed in the warm and inviting space. With plans to expand in the near future, Tomei’s is certainly a great place to meet up with friends and learn a little bit more about wine.
Tomei’s is located at 2F 4-161 Motomachi Naka-ku, Yokohama, and is open from 4pm–12am Wednesday through Friday, and 1pm– 2am on weekends (closed Monday and Tuesday). Tel. 04-5212-5446. www.tomeis.co.jp.