This post is part 1 of my series: Tribute to Japan which will explore Japanese culture through my trip there back in November 2010.

For anyone who loves to cook or just loves kitchen supplies in general, a visit to Tokyo is not complete with a stop by Kappabashi. Not too far from Asakusa, Kappabashi is the area in Japan to get cooking and baking supplies, high quality knives, fake display foods, dishware, silverware, etc. etc.

Because this area is catered toward the restaurant industry, the prices for many things are quite reasonable. Better yet, many of these restaurant-grade items are super durable. I bought miso bowls from this area over a decade ago (for only $1 each!) and to this day they are still as good as new! (I even throw them in the dishwasher all the time!) Some of the smaller shops only accept cash, so definitely come armed with a wad of bills if you plan on shopping (which you definitely will because you’ll be so tempted to get stuff!)

On both sides of the street, stores tempt you with beautiful Japanese ceramics, bento boxes, knives, pots and pans, and so much more. Oftentimes the best deals are out on the sidewalk, so it’s always fun just to rummage through those piles.

Even the building architecture reflects the food-focused nature of the neighborhood.

One popular gift item with tourists is the fake display food. In Japan, almost all restaurants will have these displays showing what their dishes look like. You can even custom make dishes, although those are pretty expensive!

Plastic lobsters, various species of fish, and beef slices.

I thought this fake mochi looked very realistic! The price (about $12 USD each) gave it away!

I bought a fake beer glass for Bryan’s dad. The ones with bubbles were more interesting looking and also cost more.

I bought a bunch of baking supplies, such as these cool cookie stamps! I also got some with Japanese characters, which I’ll get around to using one of these days. :)

2 hours later, my nylon tote was filled with miso bowls, baking supplies, tiny wooden spoons, a huge plastic Kirin mug, and several magnets in the shapes of gyoza (dumplings), kamaboko (fish cake), and various other Japanese foods. I left Kappabashi with a huge smile on my face. It had been super fun just to take my time exploring all the shops at my own pace. What a great, relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

I would highly recommend visiting Kappabashi if you are ever in Tokyo. It’s just one stop away from Asakusa, which is another popular tourist site that’s really fun to visit. It’s a great place to pick up reasonably priced dishware, souvenirs, gifts, and high quality Japanese knives at very reasonable prices.

Note – many of the stores are closed on Sundays.

How to get to Kappabashi
Take the Ginza line to Tawaramachi Station.
Take Exit #3 out of the station.
Once you emerge, you will be facing north on the corner of Asakusa-dori and Kokusai-dori.
Turn around (180 degrees) and walk west along the Asukusa-dori away from Asakusa toward Ueno. At the second light look up and you will see a huge plastic chef guy wearing a hat and also a police box. Turn right and you’re on the street Kappabashi-dori!


This post is part 1 of a larger series called a Tribute to Japan.

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  1. Jessica Lin says

    Oh man, I wish I went here when I was in Japan! I will definitely have to go whenever I go back. I know you said you studied Japanese for a few years, but is there any difficulty with language barriers whilst shopping there?

  2. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Most Japanese people know some English (they learn it in middle school and high school). If they don’t speak anything, you can always point to something and ask “ikura?” which means “how much?” Often they will punch a number on a calculator and show you if it’s obvious you don’t speak. The area is pretty used to tourists, so it should be fine.

  3. says

    Oh wow, I will definitely have to visit this place when I go to Japan. I hope to go next year, and I want to bring an empty suitcase just to load up on stuff like this. =)

  4. bunster10 says

    I last visited Japan in 2007. Fourth trip I’ve made to Japan. Amazing place. I hope to visit there again.

  5. says

     One of my friend went there just less than 2 weeks and he missed his hometown and friends already, I should tell him to go places like this and make himself delicious food or cakes then he will feel better I think~ Beautiful and delicious food or cakes makes me happy always! :) Love to try this someday!

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