World cooking starts in Kappabashi (Kitchen Town), where specialty stores stock everything you need for your kitchen.

There is a shopping thoroughfare that specializes in kitchenware called Kappabashi Dougu Street, also known as ‘Kitchen Town’, about a ten minute walk from Asakusa’s famous Kaminarimon (雷門), midway between Asakusa and Ueno.
Stocking everything from kitchen and dining supplies for the restaurant industry, to convenient and handy items for everyday home use, as well as Japanese-made cooking utensils popular with tourists, there’s a large range of goods available, and the street is always packed with people.
Asian and Western tableware line the street, along with artificial replicas of dishes that old-school restaurants place in their windows as samples, so accurate they can almost be mistaken for the real thing! The area is full of things that make you say, “I want that!” What can we discover today on the street where all the professional cooks go to shop?

2017-04-21 Alex Brown   Travel Destinations, Tokyo,

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【 CONTENTS 】

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.

かっぱ橋道具街
These lanterns and noren are also very popular with tourists.

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’!

かっぱ橋道具街
The origins of Kappa Kawataro are recorded on this stone monument.

Wherever you walk along this street, you’ll see decorations with the Kappa Kawataro mascot.

かっぱ橋道具街
Kappa makes an appearance on these signs and banners.

There’s a view of the Tokyo Sky Tree from the Kappabashi crossroads.

かっぱ橋道具街
The Tokyo Sky Tree appears at the end of the shopping street.

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.

かまた刃研社
Craftsmen can be seen working in the shop windows, sharpening knives and engraving them with customer’s names.

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.

かまた刃研社
Purchase a knife and have your name engraved free of charge!

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!

Kamata Hakensha (かまた刃研社)

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.

かっぱ橋道具街
There is a sharpening service for knives bought in-store for a fee.

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.

かっぱ橋道具街
Knives and graters bought in-store can be engraved with the customer’s name free of charge (some products might not be suitable, please ask for details).

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.

KAMA-ASA 【釜浅商店】

  • 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.
  • Websitehttp://www.kama-asa.co.jp/en/

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.

元祖食品サンプル屋
Colorful replica items are very popular as souvenirs and presents.

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.

元祖食品サンプル屋
The shop website has a calendar for availability, just follow the links (in Japanese only).

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).
  • Websitehttp://www.ganso-sample.com/en/

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.

酒のサンワ
The shop also deals in seasonal Saké, feel free to ask the staff for advice.

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.

酒のサンワ
To drink at home, or give as a gift.

Kappabashi Sanwa Saké shop (合羽橋 酒のサンワ)

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.

かっぱ橋道具街
Kappa Kawataro and Komachi are always popular with children.

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).
  • Websitehttp://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!

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AUTHOR

koume

koume

Hi, I am Koume. I’m originally from Fukuoka and currently living in Tokyo. I have lived in Australia, the Philippines, and Cambodia for several years. Through my life abroad, I have rediscovered the beauty of Japan. I hope my articles will be a helpful resource for both Japanese and foreign visitors.

Information

Address Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Hours -
Price -
Close -
Access 5-minute walk from Tawaramachi Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
6-minute walk from Iriya Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
5-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express line.
Phone -
Website English:http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/en/index.html
Chinese:http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/cn/index.html
Korean:http://www.kappabashi.or.jp/kr/index.html