The 1951 Photographed by an American Military Doctor
Ishinomaki, Naikaibashidori Shopping Street
Jan. 14th, 2018
[This photo is of] Ishinomaki’s iconic shopping district’s Naikaibashidori Street and Omachidori Street stoplight (current day Aitopia). It’s a color photo taken from the Naikaibashi Bridge side [of the stoplight], revealing the area beyond Omachidori Street all the way down to Hashidori 3-Chome. Lined up from the right are Shosendo, Takahikokutsuten shoe store, Kashiwayagofukuten Japanese cloth store, Yoshokushinsekai Western food store, Hiramashoten, and Endoyohinten Western goods store (though not pictured, Hoshiyakkyoku drug store is also there).
We can see a dome-roofed concrete structure (formerly the Miyagi Shogyoginko Commercial Bank, owned by Shichi-Ju-Shichiginko Bank), currently the Ishinomaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the sign for Heiwadokashiten sweets shop facing the road, the pole and neon sign of Hashidori Shopping District facing the Hashidori entrance, and the circular roadside lights in the shape of tendon lures suspended in air above the road as far as 3-Chome. The white characters reading ‘tobacco’ on Shosendo’s red sign are nostalgic.
The only people who would recognize the three-wheeled vehicle on the left side [of the photo] are elderly people. The make and model are unknown, but three-wheelers gave off a great amount of exhaust. In 1951 (Showa 26) there were 469 units [registered] in the Ishinomaki police jurisdiction. In an age when four-wheeled automobiles were rare, many three-wheelers played an important role.
They cannot be seen in the photo, but on the North side of the corner of Naikaibashidori Street and Nakamachidori Street are the Shikurayakkyoku drug store, Takahashisobaya soba shop, Itabashizakkaten general goods store, Summit, etc. In the South corner are Hokodo, Tengudo, Mamushiya, Chukaro, Taizanso (afterwards the Marumitsu Ishinomakiten shop, which opened in 1955), Kashiwayohinten Western goods store, Tachibanagofukuten Japanese cloth store, Wakazukikesshoten beauty store, etc.
The Taisho period (1912-1926) former Miyagi Shogyoginko Commercial Bank was demolished after [the photo was taken] in 1955 (Showa 30) and rebuilt as the Shichi-ju-Shichiginko Bank Ishinomaki Branch. After the Shichi-ju-Shichiginko Bank Ishinomaki Branch moved to Tachimachidori Street it was used as the City Social Welfare Building.
In the 40’s with the advent of the automobile society, widening of Naikaibashidori Street, the modernization of the shops, and the enforcement of pedestrian precincts and night stalls, it was developed to be the greatest shopping district in the city.
This is a serial commentary, posted weekly on Sundays, by local historian Seiji Henmi on the pictures taken by the late American military doctor George Butler in 1951 of the Ishinomaki region.
Photos are available on the website run by Mr. Butler’s eldest son, Alan Butler, Miyagi 1951. https://www.miyagi1951.com
Please address any information regarding the photos to Mr. Seiji Henmi at 090(4317)7706.
■ Seiji Henmi
Seiji Henmi was born in the middle of the City of Ishinomaki in December of 1947. He graduated from Ishinomaki Senior High School and the Tohoku Gakuin University Economics Department. He worked for the Sankei Newspaper in the Ishinomaki section, and after retiring worked on investigations regarding the Kitakami River for the Foundation of River and Basin Integrated Communications, JAPAN. He is now working for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Kitakami-Karyu River Office’s Mizubenofukko Mirainokan Hall (Waterfront Restoration and Future Hall) (located in Nakase, Ishinomaki). He is currently living in Ishinomaki’s Chuo 3-Chome.