Experience a bit of Ishikawa Prefecture in Tokyo

At the end of 2019, my colleague and friend Chigaya invited me to visit the city of Kanazawa and the peninsula of Noto, in Ishikawa Prefecture. I had a great time,  and am thinking of going back with friends for more sightseeing. Until then, there is a place in Tokyo that I can visit if I miss Ishikawa Prefecture: the Ishikawa Prefecture local speciality shop in Ginza. It just reopened last week, so Chigaya and I decided to pay a visit and take part in one of the workshops, bringing back memories of our trip to Kanazawa city.

2020-03-16   Visit: Modern Japan, Tokyo,


The Japanese concept of “antenna shop” or local speciality shop

Carefully selected local sake is one of the products you can usually find in an antenna shop

The Ishikawa local speciality shop is known as an antenna shop アンテナショップ in Japan. Shops with this name sell products from a specific prefecture of Japan. The first antenna shops were mostly aimed at people who are from these prefectures and moved to Tokyo, so that they could buy products that would remind them of home. However, over time, they also became a great tool for promotion, which was also the aim of the Ishikawa antenna shop when it was created. Many of the shops work with the prefectural bureaus and key industries, all hoping to reach a large audience and make them want to buy the local products and, eventually, travel to the prefecture itself to visit and eat all the good food it has to offer (food plays a big part in Japan’s local tourism).

Tokyo has many shops like this one, and I often hear about the Okinawa one, the Nara one, the Nagano one…

The Ishikawa Local Speciality Shop

The shop is brighter than before and nice to walk around

It wasn’t the first time I had visited the shop, as I had been there last year while strolling in Ginza. I had never been to Ishikawa Prefecture at the time, and was almost totally ignorant about the area. The shop was nice and there were a couple of appealing or unique products (for example, gold-leaf based cosmetics) but overall it lacked character. It didn’t leave a strong impression on me.

The really cool paper-lamps ceiling on the second floor

When I visited again for the re-opening on March 6th, I was impressed by how much it had improved. The shop is a lot brighter and the aisles are wider, with nice wooden shelves. The products are a variety of local handicrafts (including porcelain and lacquerware), cosmetics, sweets, sake, and the famous local fermented food. The design has some nice “Ishikawa-esque” details, like the repeated use of gold-leaf patterns (even inside the washrooms!).

Even the elevators are golden

Another major change: great efforts have been made to introduce the prefecture to visitors. Posters are hanging from the ceiling, and digital panels outside and inside the shop introduce the area, its food and its handicrafts, both in Japanese and in English. On the second floor, there is a tourist desk where you can get information if you want to visit Ishikawa Prefecture. There is also an event space where they organize tasting and workshops, which really reminded me of my visit to Kanazawa city.

The gold leaf workshop

We were asked to choose our favorite color among these. I picked purple and Chigaya chose red

Chigaya and I decided to attend the gold leaf workshop because we enjoyed the one we did in Kanazawa so much. This time, the workshop was about making chopsticks and it turned out to be a completely different experience from before. The teacher was from a local Kanazawa gold leaf making company called Hakuza who first introduced us to some basic information about gold leaf making. Then, we were told the whole process we were about to follow and which I’ll sum up here through pictures.

These colorful bits are made from colored silver leaves

First we were asked to put some kind of glue on the chopsticks, and apply the above golden leaves bits where we would like a pattern on our chopsticks. We were asked to put a little more than we would like to, as some parts would fall off in the last part of the process.

Once we stuck on our silver leaf flakes, we were asked to cut a gold leaf in two with a cutter.

Cutting the gold leaf

Then we had to carefully roll our chopsticks on the gold leaf, Chigaya took a video of me doing it, but I will not show it here because I look as fast as a sloth.

Chigaya carefully rolling her chopstick on the gold leaf

Finally, we had to press the gold leaf with cotton, and gently remove the extra bits of gold and silver with a brush.

Carefully brushing the chopsticks

 

Here’s the final result! It turned out better than I expected.

The activity took about 40mn and cost us 1500 yen, which is a very reasonable price. Other activities such as Noto wine tasting and various handicrafts workshops are being organized throughout the month.

Overall, I think the new version of the Ishikawa shop is a very nice place to check out when you’re in the Ginza area, especially if you are with friends or family visiting Japan: many items make great Japanese souvenirs, and in terms of price, the workshops are of better value than what you usually find in the Tokyo area. I’ll definitely come back the next time I’m showing people around.

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AUTHOR

Amelie

Amelie

Writer / Translator

I’m French but I’ve been living in Tokyo for many years during which I had a lot of meaningful and thrilling experiences. I’m curious and I love learning new things. My hobbies are kick boxing, scuba diving, Japanese traditional painting, etc… As a writer, I’d like to share information about less touristic, more authentic places. I will also write about all the fun and cultural activities unique to Japan.

Information

Address 〒104-0061
TH Ginza Building, 2-2-18 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Hours 10:30~20:00
(Excluding New Year holidays)
Price Free entrance
Close None
Access ・5 minutes on foot from JR Yurakucho Station

・1 minute on foot from Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line Ginza-itchome station Exit 4

・5 minutes on foot from Tokyo Metro Ginza Station Exit C8
Phone 03-6228-7172 for tourism information
Language Japanese
English
Website https://100mangokushop.jp/en/