Umebachi is a small guest house with a cozy atmosphere where people from everywhere can gather and feel at home. If you are shy, you may need a little bit of courage to go through the door at first, but once through it, you will find a whole new world waiting to be discovered.
Umebachi is located in Miyagino Ward, Sendai, where traditional shopping streets and unique restaurants still remain. Here, you can see how the locals live their everyday lives.
Since its opening in 2011, Umebachi has been welcoming travelers from not only Japan, but from all over the world. From backpackers to families, to those on business trips, to locals dropping by to enjoy the atmosphere, everyone is welcome at Umebachi.
In the evenings, you will hear greetings to incoming customers and visitors as well as those in the common area sharing stories. Masaki, Umebachi’s owner, was previously a chef, so you’ll find him preparing a delicious dinner made from local ingredients. To go with a lovely feast, we also have Japanese sake at a reasonable price.
We believe that the combination of a warm atmosphere and quality local food results in Umebachi’s greatest charm- interpersonal communication! Who doesn’t love to talk over great food? By meeting others from different countries and cultures, we hope that you can discover new perspectives and widen your horizons!
Escape from your daily routine and the bustle of city life and come relax at Umebachi.
Make Umebachi a page in your Book of Life.
When I was 20, I was able to understand the “Value of happiness.” We all have our troubles and worries, but I was able to center myself at this time. By the age of 29, all of the different threads in my life came together and formed Umebachi.
Step by step, I made my way forward with help and encouragement from the many people I met.
Looking inward and thinking about one’s future may be similar to traveling. The people you meet and friendships you make at Umebachi will be irreplaceable.
I look forward to meeting you.
I am the Okami (proprietress), Keiko. I relax by singing and playing the piano. And I love beer!
I work hard in order to live comfortably. It feels miraculous when guests from all around the world choose to stay at Umebachi. I am thrilled to meet our guests and hope they continue the relationships made while staying here with us. Every day, I deeply appreciate the knowledge and values I am exposed to through our guests. I want Umebachi to be a place where we can teach our visitors about Sendai, Miyagi and Japan, as well as the joy of meeting new people. I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you again in the future.
In 2011, Tohoku was hit by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake which resulted in a tsunami that ravaged the entire eastern coast of Japan and led to the eventual meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. At the time, I was working in Tochigi Prefecture. A long story short, I decided to move to Sendai so I could help volunteer.
I stayed one of the Toyoko Inns downtown usually whenever I would head up to Sendai. But I eventually found Umebachi online during one of my searches for places to stay. It was funny that on a previous Sendai visit, I was driving around different areas and I was going through the Nigatake neighborhood, I got a sense that it would be someplace that I'd end up being familiar with. That proved to be true as I ended up living at Umebachi. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The first time I visited, I relied on Google Maps to get me there. You know how sometimes it's not right? Well, this was the 2011 version of Google Maps. I ended up in some neighborhood culdesac with Umebachi in sight. On the map, I could see it was nearby. Close, but no banana. I drove around clueless trying to figure it out. I left a message on their phone and Masaki, the husband half of the married ownership, called me back later with directions. As I write this, it's 2019 and I don't think Google has fixed the map issues, so if you head there, best to get directions in advance as Google Maps are worthless once you get close.
It would be great if I could recount my very first meeting the owners Masaki and Keiko, but I don't have a cheery, heartwarming memory to share of that particular moment. Maybe I'm getting old and senile. More likely that I've had so many new experiences and met so many people since then, the specifics are lost in the jungle of new information.
I've traveled around the world, but I've never stayed in a place like Umebachi. It's more like a small family than a place to rest your head for the evening. Sure, if you come in, go to bed and leave early, you're bound to feel that it's not much different than any other place you have stayed. The key is being social. Despite being an introvert, I suggest being social there- that's where the magic begins.
As I still had an apartment in Tochigi, but no job in Sendai, I was kind of at a loss for what to do with myself. That's where staying at Umebachi came in. Rather than occasional short stays, I ended up moving into Umebachi since volunteering from Tochigi and maintaining an apartment all while having no job was quickly draining my reserves. Moving into Umebachi gave me a bit of grounding - I'd been a bit of a lost soul before that.
As I was there daily and didn't have much to do with myself on non-volunteering days, I assume Masaki and Keiko thought I needed to be put to work. They suggested that I work for them while I stayed there. It was basically an internship if you will. I was already staying there. I might as well help! So with that decision, I became the very first staff member of Umebachi.
It only lasted a couple months as Keiko helped me find an apartment (very difficult at the time since so many homes were wiped out due to the tsunami, the housing market was tight) and I ended up moving out in Feb. 2012. Despite not living there, we all shared a common bond in that we wanted to help others. Me, through volunteering, and Masaki & Keiko through Umebachi and volunteering. Whenever I was getting ready to go volunteering, I'd call up Umebachi and see if anyone wanted to go along. I can't count the trips where I had Umebachi staff and/or customers with me. From Minamisoma, Fukushima in the south up to Shizugawa and further to the north, the Umebachi team spread help and compassion wherever we could. Masaki or Keiko would often call me if either of them had been asked by travelers wanting to help - with my volunteering contacts, I did what I could to find them volunteering opportunities. Despite having moved out, we were still family.
That connection continues to today. I still pop in and say Howdy and meet new staff. In fact, I was in Tokyo recently and met up with a former Umebachi staff member. Other staff members have gotten married, in fact! So know that when you stay at Umebachi, you have the chance to become part of the family, too. Hope to see you there!
Photo by : Yasuharu Takemura / Kaori Sasaki / Michael Martin / Masaki Tsunoda