Convenience stores in Japan are often like mini supermarkets, but this one near one of Shinto’s holiest shrines also feels like a time machine.
In Japan, religious structures and commercial districts have long been located adjacent to one another. Shrines and temples have been attracting pilgrims and travelers for centuries, many of whom crave food and entertainment after saying their prayers and making their offerings, and one of the most archetypical examples is found in the town of Ise, in Mie Prefecture.
Ise is home to Ise Shrine, one of the country’s most important Shinto sites. Right next to the complex’s Inner Shrine, or Naiku, as it’s called in Japanese, is Oharaimachi, a neighborhood of shops and restaurants catering to out-of-town visitors.
Among the merchants operating in the neighborhood is Family Mart, one of Japan’s largest convenience store chains. But whereas Family Mart branches usually look like this…
…the company felt the one in Oharaimachi should blend in a little better with the traditional, yet still bustling, surroundings. So the chain’s customary green, white, and blue plastic was replaced with something a bit more old-school.
▼ Now that’s one shibui convenience store.
Inside, the shop features the same brightly lit, tiled interior as any other Family Mart, with the added bonus of a second-floor eat-in corner where you can rest your feet and enjoy your treats you purchased below.
▼ They also sell wood-carved Family Mart cell phone straps, in case that’s what’s been missing from your life until now.
But the building’s classic façade means that unless you’re actively scanning for a convenience store, you could easily walk right past this one without noticing that what it is.
▼ The view of the river that flows directly behind the store
Also worth checking out: Oharaimachi’s post office, which would be a great place from which to mail your missives to the shogun…
…and its bank, which, despite its appearance, dispenses the regular coins and bills of modern yen.
But since Family Mart doesn’t accept payments in feudal period koban gold coins, maybe that’s for the best.
Family Mart (Ise Inner Shrine branch) /ファミリーマート （伊勢神宮内宮前店）
Address: Mie-ken, Ise-shi, Ujiimasaikecho Azanaka Kashuraku 38
Open 24 hours a day
If you’re going to Oharaimachi, let Casey know on Twitter. He’d like you to pick up some local sake for him.
[ Read in Japanese ]