Honjin dori – the hidden food alley in Kakegawa

Less than 10 minutes away from Kakegawa station on the Tokaido Shinkansen in Shizuoka, lies a hidden gem, outdoor eateries and bars along a traditional Japanese eating street, beckoning you in for a bite and enticing you to stay for a drink.

In Japan, it is quite rare to see people eating and drinking outdoors, enjoying a warm spring day with a coffee or late afternoon beer in the sun. Most restaurants, cafes and bars have traditionally been indoor affairs, tucked away in corners and alleys, known to only the privileged few.

The reasons for this are varied and debatable, perhaps due to the Japanese custom to be somewhat private or to maintain the wa (harmony) in society and public places. But whatever the reasons, the country has started to adopt and replicate the relaxed outdoor settings of cafes often seen in New Zealand or Australia, with more and more cafes popping up in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

And this is where Hojin dori (or honjin street) comes in. Honjin dori didn’t need an overseas trend to have people relaxing outside with a beer or a coffee, they’ve been doing it for ages! Nestled away in an alley only a short walk away from the main Shinkansen station in Kakegawa, Honjin dori has a number of traditional eateries and bars, that you might often see around train stations in Tokyo or Osaka, but in a casual outdoor setting.

Here, one can wander from Japanese food stalls offering everything from ramen and yakitori (meat skewers), to bars serving modern cocktails alongside traditional sake and shochu.

The name Honjin, goes back to the êdo period of Japan (1600-1864), and was the name of the local daimyo (feudal lord) who oversaw the area. In 2013, in cooperation with Kakegawa City Food Village, Honjin street was renewed and opened on August 25, 2013. There are currently 16 eateries and bars to choose from, with plans to increase that number to 20.

They serve a massive variety, from sesame ‘black’ ramen, seafood skewers, spicy korean inspired dishes, to fresh seafood, sashimi (raw slices of fish), and premium Japanese beef, which is grilled teppanyaki style right before you.

Honjin dori is in Kakegawa city , Shizuoka, which is the perfect location to host yourself for a night or two, on your way down to the more touristy areas of Japan, as it lies right on the Tokaido shinkansen line between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Kakegawa is not yet beset upon by the increasing number of visitors to Japan so you will feel as though you have stumbled across a secret location before the secret is out. 

If you’re visiting for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka is hosting 4 games, and there will be shuttle buses running from Kakegawa to the games.

Visit Honjin dori and have a more authentic (and fun!) experience with friends and family on your trip to Japan. Aside from great outdoor dining, the authentic Japanese castle in Kakegawa is a must see to. See here for more information on how to get here and tours.

Official site (Japanese only): http://honjin-douri.com/

Follow Honjin Dori on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kakegawahonjin/

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