【 CONTENTS 】
- Searching for the golden ‘Kappa’ statue on a street with over 100 years of history.
- Special knives made by craftsman.
- Emulate the pros, and cook with the best equipment.
- Challenge yourself at a replica food production experience!
- Sample Saké in a casual setting.
- The historical Kappabashi Dougu Street Festival.
Searching for the golden ‘Kappa’ statue on a street with over 100 years of history.
Roughly 800-meters long from North to South, and lined with about 170 shops, ‘Kappabashi Dougu Street’ celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. With so much to see, it’s best to give yourself at least a half day if you want to take your time and have a good look around.
Suspended along the shopfronts are many paper lanterns and ‘noren’, fabric curtains traditionally used by shops to display their name, and hung outside entrances. It’s fun and interesting to check out these specialty items you wouldn’t normally be able to see at a show like this.
Halfway down the street is something you must not miss, the golden ‘Kappa Kawataro’ statue was unveiled on the street’s 90th anniversary. ‘Kappa’ in Japan are a kind of mischievous water imp, often portrayed with a distinctive bald head and beak shaped mouth. ‘Kappabashi’ means Kappa bridge. It’s said this name comes from old tales about Kappa being seen in the area, which used to be prone to flooding, because raincoats called Amagappa were made here and hung out to dry along the old bridge. Seeing a Kappa is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to your business, so make sure you stop for a photo with ‘Kappa Kawataro’!
Wherever you walk along this street, you’ll see decorations with the Kappa Kawataro mascot.
There’s a view of the Tokyo Sky Tree from the Kappabashi crossroads.
Special knives made by craftsman.
Cutlery is a proud part of Japanese culture and a good knife is indispensable for Japanese cooking. In Kappabashi Kitchen Town you can find such desirable items.
Established in 1923, the ‘Kamata Hakensha’ store has a range of over 800 knives, many handmade by craftsmen.
There are rust-resistant knives, exceptionally durable knives, Japanese style wooden-handled knives, and beautifully patterned knives very popular with tourists. You should find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s for your own use or as a gift.
The Shop owner and knife expert, Mr.Seiichi Kamata, can explain things in English. Household knives that have become blunt can also be sharpened in the shop. Becoming so sharp in fact, they could almost be mistaken for a brand new one. Anyone wishing to learn how to sharpen knives themselves can come to a knife sharpening workshop on the second floor of the building held on the first Tuesday of each month, unless there is an event on the same day.
You’ll need a reservation, which can be done through the shop’s website in English or Japanese. Places are limited to ten people per session, and they are said to fill up fast, so it’s best to book early!
- Address：2-12-6 Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
- Price range：3,000-180,000 yen.
- Opening hours： 10am-6pm
- Website：http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/shops/59.html (Japanese text only)
Emulate the pros, and cook with the best equipment.
For over 100 years KAMA-ASA has followed the principle: “Good tools have a reason.” And the staff here specialize in each kind of tool, so they’re sure to find the item you’re after.
There are two stores facing each other across the street, one dealing in knives and the other dealing in cooking equipment. The knife shop is often visited by foreign customers. Because of this, there are both English and French speaking staff, and product names are also written in English, so shopping is simple and easy for Western tourists.
The shop stocks Nambu ironware, a traditional metalworking style developed in the Edo period and best known for its simple kettle design, decorated with a distinctive dimpled pattern. The iron used is very high quality and said to improve taste, as well as enriching everything with iron, giving it added health benefits. Also available are Yukihira Nabe (Japanese saucepans and pots hand hammered into shape) and iron frying pans that become better and easier to use with age. These long lasting, quality products are the pride of the craftsmen that made them, and will brighten and enhance your daily cooking routine. Gift wrapping is also provided.
- Spot name：
- Address：2-24-1 Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
- Price range：5,000-10,000 yen (products for domestic use).
- Phone：(Knife department) 03-3841-9357.
- Phone：(Cooking utensil department) 03-3841-9355.
Challenge yourself at a replica food production experience!
Replicas of foods are placed in restaurant windows to show customers exactly what’s on the menu. The Ganso Shokuhin Sample-Ya (which roughly translates to ‘The original replica food shop’) is situated midway along Kappabashi shopping street and is part of the Iwasaki Group, which has over 80 years of history in the industry. Items on display are all handmade one by one in the company’s own factories in Japan.
You can’t help but to smile at the delicious looking desserts that double as small boxes, the fruit and Sushi key holders, and other original items that have been developed using the skill and imagination of professional craftsmen.
It’s also possible to make your own replicas of dishes at the ‘Replica food production experience’ at this shop.
The workshop is held three times a day at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm. Anyone 6-years-old and over can attend, and a reservation is required in advance.
Participants can make a model of cabbage and two pieces of tempura (choose from shrimp, eggplant, pumpkin, or mushroom) in roughly 60-75 minutes, following the old-fashioned technique of using wax.
The workshop is held in Japanese, so anyone wishing to take part who doesn’t speak the language is advised to come with someone who can translate for them. For each group of up to eight participants, at least one Japanese speaker is required.
There are also a limited number of special workshops where you can make more challenging replicas such as French parfaits’, waffle desserts, and tendon (bowls of rice with tempura). You can check the menu for each experience and other details by following the link listed below. All the information is in Japanese, so you might need some help!
Replica food sample experience details:
http://www.ganso-sample.com/experience/kappabashi_exp.html (Japanese text only)
Ganso Shokuhin Sample-Ya (元祖食品サンプル屋)
- Address：3-7-6 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo (near the Kappabashi crossroads).
- Opening hours：10am-5.30pm daily (closed for New Year holiday).
- Phone：0120-17-1839（enquiries and workshop bookings).
Sample Saké in a casual setting.
It’s not well known, but Saké is also sold in Kappabashi Kitchen Town. The Sanwa Saké shop sells 720ml bottles of Saké and Shōchū (a clear distilled spirit distilled, a little stronger and not as sweet). Sanwa chooses the best selections from all over Japan.
There is a bar counter inside the shop where it’s possible to sample two varieties of Saké for just 500 yen. Tourists wanting to buy Japanese spirits will be glad to find staff here that can speak English, and happy for the chance to actually drink before they buy.
Kappabashi Sanwa Saké shop (合羽橋 酒のサンワ)
- Address：3-17-11 Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
- Opening hours：12-6pm (closed Wed).
- Website：http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/shops/65.html (Japanese text only)
The historical Kappabashi Dougu Street Festival.
Once a year a huge festival takes place around October 9th, or ‘Dougu Day’. (Dou-gu, means tool in Japanese, and October 9th can be written 10/09, or Tou-Ku, which becomes Dou-Gu and therefore Dougu Day). In 2016 the Kappabashi Dougu Street Festival was held for the 33rd year. Nowadays the street is pedestrianized for the event, with as many as 400,000 people visiting.
There is a market packed with featured products, a brass band parade by local school children, a demonstration corner for parents and their kids, as well as many other events and festivities closely associated with the local area.
Recently many tourists have been joining in, even winning the big raffle prize! There’s something for children and adults to enjoy at the Kappabashi Dougu Street Festival, I can’t wait for next year’s Dougu Day!
Kappabashi Dougu Street Festival (かっぱ橋道具まつり)
- Venue：Kappabashi Dougu Street, Shōgai Gakushū Center and Kinryū Park.
- Time and day：Each year around October 9th for one week (10am-5pm).
- Website：http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/ (Japanese text only. Festival news is published one month beforehand).
With many wholesale stores for the restaurant trade, some people tend to see Kappabashi Kitchen Town as a difficult place for the ordinary customer to shop, but in fact the street is flexible enough to meet the needs of all customers, including tourists.
Household utensils that will last for years, gifts for loved ones and friends, even party goods for major occasions, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Kappabashi.
This is a specialist shopping street for everyday living, why not come and discover something that will make your life better!