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Town Bookstores

The 1951 Photographed by an American Military Doctor

Mar. 18th, 2018

Translation by Stefan Ramos

This author remembers the Tanshobo book store on Omachidori (his route to school) and the Kinkodoshoten book store (formerly the Suzukishoten book store) on the south side of the road.

The large signboard reading “Lady’s Living” and the banners in the photo really give the store some impact. “Lady’s Living” was launched in May of 1947 (Showa 22) and was followed by pioneer womens’ magazines like “Housewife and Life” in 1951, “The Housewife’s Friend” in 1952, and “Lady’s Club.” They made an effort at advertising like through the burden of creating a signboard, and apparently it had a tremendous impact on publicity.

Speaking of stores where a child could go by him or herself, within the town there were a few like Tanakoya or Tosukeya, the Omochaya toy store, the book-lending shop, or the stationary store, but parents would accompany children to the Marumitsu department store, the movie theatre and the hire boat spot, and the roller skating rink. The bookstore therein was a shop you could stop at by yourself.

Both bookstores had narrow fronts but went far back, and were laid out in a configuration where bookshelves encircled a center island. The store was poorly lit and had dirt floors. I remember the payment area being towards the back. I probably felt that the store was so big because I was small.

The postwar juvenile magazine “Elementary School __ Grader” was reissued in 1946 (Showa 21), and was followed in quick succession by new publications like “Manga Boys” in ’47, “The Adventure King” in ’49, “The Girl Student’s Friend” in ’50, “Good Friends” in ’54, “Ribbon” in ’55, “Boy’s Magazine Weekly” and “We Are the Boys Club” in ’60. Special editions of monthly magazines was also something everyone enjoyed.

I couldn’t buy them with my own money, but it was worth it to just look at the magazines. I'd read while standing, flipping through the pages, just looking. Kinkodo moved from Omachi to Tachimachodori Street. At the corner of Tachimachi and the road in front of the station there was a Yamatoshoten book store, so I would read a bit at one store then move to the next and read a bit more until I had finished the story.

Another memory I have of the book store is textbook sales. In the Ishinomaki Elementary school auditorium there was a textbook book fair. The memory is vague, but I think afterwards I would head into town and buy textbooks there.  (Local Historian, Seiji Henmi)


<Please let us know if you have any information>

You can browse the published photos on the photographer’s eldest son, Alan Butler’s, website “Miyagi 1951”. https://www.miyagi1951.com/

Please feel free to contribute any information regarding these photos to Mr. Henmi at 090(4317)7706. 


米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<9> 町の書店筆者の通学路の大町通りには耽書房と、南側に金港堂書店(前身は鈴木書店)があったと記憶しています。


※米軍医が撮った1951、石巻地方<8> 大曲閘門

 掲載された写真は、撮影者の長男アラン・バトラー氏のウェブサイト「Miyagi 1951」で閲覧できます。https://www.miyagi1951.com/
 写真に関する情報は辺見氏 090(4317)7706 にお寄せください。