The Motomachi shopping district of Yokohama can trace its roots back to 1860, when it began catering to the neighboring foreign quarters to become the center of Japan’s modernization, a phenomenon known in history as Bunmei-Kaika. The area retains much of its quasi-European atmosphere to this day, always bustling with retro-style cafés, bakeries, clothing stores, and small businesses.
A little off the main street, visitors may come across a quirky little shop called Green Thumb. At first glance, it’s nothing like any other shops in the area. It does not specialize in secondhand clothes or gardening tools despite its name. The shop’s hanging sign depicts a broomstick-riding witch, and inside the display window is an array of colorful goods, from bottled bath salt, to dried herbs, to spooky witch puppets.
Green Thumb was founded in 1985 by Toyoko “Elderflower Houp-La” Iijima, a renowned expert on witch-related culture and published author, as the first herbal store in Yokohama. In addition to herbal cosmetics, perfumes, and tea leaves, the shop also offers a variety of witchy items, such as Halloween decorations imported from Europe and “kitchen witches” on which it prides itself.
Possibly originating in medieval Scandinavia, a kitchen witch is a homemade doll usually hung in the kitchen as a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits from the house. Green Thumb’s kitchen witches are all designed and handcrafted by the owner herself, each of them having a different backstory of her own. There are many types of witches, some wedding and Christmas-themed, some scented, and most of them smiling benevolently.
Know Before You Go
Green Thumb is located at the intersection of Motomachinaka and Mizuyashiki Streets, easily spotted for its European-style façade and noticeable witch sign. It's open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.