Downtown Lethbridge

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Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

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Just Around The Corner: Zakka-ya - Lethbridge's Japanese Curio Shop

When you venture down to 5th street and 4th Avenue South, look up and down the alley way. At first glance you may see just your regular downtown alley, but when you spot the brightly coloured blue door you’ll enter into a world of Japanese curiosities.

Zakka-ya Lethbridge, is a Japanese curio shop tucked in right behind Bread Milk & Honey that carries a little bit of everything.

John and Tomoko Greenshields took the opportunity to capitalize on the bonus, back-of-the-building space at the Round Street Building by opening up a lovely little retail shop complete with a unique alleyway entrance.

Bonnie Greenshields, the owner of the Round Street Building, and coincidentally enough, the mother of John, had a lease renewal come up and John knew this was an entrepreneurial adventure that he could embark upon with his wife Tomoko.

“When you visit Japan, it’s definitely congested, so they have to be efficient when it comes to their building spaces,” explains John. “We decided to open up in the alley, because it’s a great alley. It has good traffic flow, and all-in-all it’s just a great spot.”

John and Tomoko had always had a desire to work with Tomoko’s father, Dr. Junichi Saga, a practitioner of medicine as well as a novelist, who lives North East of Tokyo, Japan. Junichi Saga has a passion for writing oral histories of places where he has lived. His writing has inspired some famous songwriters - Bob Dylan’s 2001 Love & Theft album got its inspiration from Dr. Junichi Saga’s book, Confessions of a Yakuza.

Tomoko and John have a background in literature and history and are very passionate about sharing their love for both studies. Being able to open this unique spot has been both rewarding “and a great privilege to work with such a passionate and hard working man, like my father-in-law.”

Besides being a talented writer, Dr. Junichi Saga also practices Japanese calligraphy on various forms of paper and paints Buddhist & Shinto type large pieces that are available for purchase exclusively at Zakka-ya.

Zakka-Ya Lethbridge carries many Japanese imports, such as Zen calligraphy, pottery, textiles, wall hangings, Noren doors (traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows), stationary, hand bags, shirts and so much more.  So whether you’re looking for a bento box to carry your lunch to and fro, or a quirky kabuki kitten wall hanging, Zakka-ya will satisfy the curiosity within.

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