If you’re looking for a Tokyo souvenir shopping experience that straddles the quirky and the practical, you should definitely visit Kappabashi, Tokyo.
Kappabashi-dori, known colloquially as simply Kappabashi or “Kitchen Town”, is a street situated between the Tokyo districts of Ueno and Asakusa. The vast majority of businesses on Kappabashi are shops that have everything imaginable for the city’s thousands upon thousands of restaurants and eateries. From neon signs and bespoke sushi knives to disposable chopsticks and paper napkins, and even industrial appliance and furnishings – if restaurants need it, you will probably find it at Kappabashi.
What is Kappabashi Street?
For all visitors to Tokyo, Kappabashi Street in is an absolute must-see. It’s is a kitchenware paradise that professional chefs and avid cooks and amateur bakers flock to for a broad range of kitchen necessities. But if you visit Kappabashi, Tokyo, you’ll see that it has much more than kitchenware. Visitors can bask in the culture that envelopes this small district in Tokyo. Kappabashi Street seamlessly blends modern buildings and conveniences with a wealth of shops and restaurants that are magnets for professional and general shoppers.
If there’s one thing travelers who visit Kappabashi appreciate the most, it’s the cheerful welcome that makes tourists to Kappabashi Street feel right at home. Visitors often stay for several days to take in all Kappabashi Street has to offer and literally “Shop Till You Drop.”
What Visitors Go to Kappabashi to Buy
You know those incredibly realistic plastic samples of menu items that you see in the windows of Japanese restaurants and other types of east Asian eateries? They’re known as “sampuru,” a Japanese term derived from the English word “sample”. The displays are mesmerizing. And are awesome collectibles for foodies and lovers of all things kitsch! The sampuru are amazingly realistic too, from beer cans with beads of condensation running down the side as if they’d just come out of an ice-cold cooler to a bowl of ramen that literally looks good enough to eat. So they’re great gifts and souvenirs picked up by tourists who’ve taken cheap flights in August, or any other month, to Tokyo. Who could turn away a crab claw keychain or a piece of fake – but nonetheless delectable looking – piece of sushi?
As sure as browsing in one of the many sampuru shops will be accompanied by lots of laughter, the obvious skill that goes into crafting these works of commercial art is nothing to scoff at. And, prices reflect that. Expect to pay upwards of $60 for a replica of something along the lines of a plate of spaghetti or a t-bone steak. There are inexpensive finds as well. Look outside the shops or way in the back for discount boxes of amazingly cheap items. Most of the sampuru shops cater to tourists, along with the restaurant trade. Plastic sushi rolls, mini models of all sorts of foods, and an array of keychains are available for around $5 or under.
But Kappabashi Is Also a Great Place to Buy Ceramics…
More than the wonders of so many diverse shops to visit on Kappabashi Street is the variety of high-quality items that quickly fill holiday gift lists, collectors’ items, and object d’art for conversation pieces. When buying ceramics at Kappabashi Street, note the finely handcrafted ceramic pieces with delicate, artful designs. Purchase hand-painted tea services or a whimsical ceramic Fugu in brightly painted colors. Other popular items found at Kappabashi Street shops are pottery vases and earthenware plates in unique designs. Onabe No Hakubutsukan is a museum of pots displayed neatly on shelves that attract professional chefs and the general public alike.
And Kappabashi Knives Are Renowned Around the World!
How often have cooks and professional chefs searched endlessly for knives and wished they could find knives created with the precision sharpness of Samurai swords? Knives made in Japan are based on a style that is hundreds of years old and are the envy of knife makers around the world. And Kappabashi is one of the best-known places to buy them. If you’re shopping for knives on Kappabashi Street, be sure to look for the iconic “chiseled” edge and to take note of the durability of the metal blade.
The Area Is Also a Perfect for Grabbing a Bit to Eat
No visit to Kappabashi Street is complete without a midday or evening meal. There are over 180 restaurants near Kappabashi Street, and delicious coffee shops too! Asakusa Okomiyaki Sometaro is one nearby eater that’s highly rated and known cooking patrons’ pancakes right in front of them on a red-hot table top griddle. Another well-regarded restaurant is Kanmisabokikumaru, which features the most artistic, tasty sweets the whole family will love.
How to Get to Kappabashi Street
There are plenty of routes visitors can use to get to Kappabashi Street. It’s 15 minutes by foot from both the Ueno and Uguisudani stations, which are on the JR Yamanote and JR Keihin-Tohoku lines, as well as 25 minutes from the Asakusabashi station on the JR Sobu line. If traveling by Tokyo Metro, it’s a five-minute walk from Tawaramachi Station on the Ginza Line and a six-minute walk from Iriya Station on the Hibiya Line. Visitors by bus should leave from Ueno Station bound for Aoto Shako-mae or Minami-Senju Station East Exit and get off at Kikuyabashi. They can also take the bus from Uguisudani Station bound for Kamedo or Asakusa Kotobuki and get off at Iriya 2-chome.
Those arriving by car can take the Tokyo Expressway Route 1 and exit at Ueno IC or Iriya IC, or take the Tokyo Expressway Route 6 Outbound and exit at Komagata IC. They can also take the Tokyo Expressway Route 6 Inbound and exit at Mukojima IC. Parking meters are available and drivers should be prepaid for 60-minute parking only.
Have you explored this amazing and unique destination in Tokyo? Have any advices for someone planning on going to Kappabashi Street? Let us know in the comments below!