Japan is known for districts catering to specialty stores. With a large chef’s head that greet its visitors, you know you’ve found your way in Japan’s iconic Kitchen Town—Kappabashi. As its English name implies, Kappabashi is a retreat for restaurateurs, food business owners, chefs, and home cooks looking for quality kitchenware, dinnerware, and kitchen accessories.
It is said that this bustling kitchenware arena started in 1912 when merchants flocked the area to sell second-hand kitchen implements. Today, almost 170 restaurant supply stores grace Kappabashi, from sellers offering anything and everything synonymous kitchen and eating, from Nambu ironware for the perfect rice cookery to specialized cooking equipment.
For those who have a penchant for the classic Japanese-style tableware, from ceramic bowls to iron teapots, head on to Wa No Utsuwa Dengama. Japanese blades are definitely renowned internationally for its quality and Kappabashi houses knife shops from artisanal makers that have turned this steel blades as works of art.
Kama Asa, which started in 1908, has a huge collection of knives to suit your needs. Their staff will happily assist you in choosing the right blade by asking you several questions that will help narrow down the options until you find the right one. Another famous knife shop in Kappabashi is Kamata. Established in 1923, Kamata sells patterned knives and offers knife sharpening lessons every Tuesday. Tsubaya, which is frequented by foreign tourists since this store offers international shipping, sells not only knives but also specialty cutlery.
Do you prefer a some kawaii looking accessories to deck your kitchen? Den Gama is the go-to shop for Japanese pottery like rice bowl sets made of Arita porcelain and anything cutesy to doll up your dinner table. How about colorful and uniquely shaped chopstick holders for a souvenir?
Speaking of chopsticks, for those eyeing to take home a set (or more) from Mikura. The staff will gladly assist you in selecting the right set which you can also ask to have an engraving on it.
Meanwhile, Union Coffee, as the name dictates, is a barista refuge and almost a museum of anything coffee related from around the world. This cramped store is an eye-opener for coffee lovers or merely to those who like to know a little bit more about coffee.
Aside from the extensive collection of kitchenware all up for sale, Kappabashi houses the broadest array of Japanese foods you can find in all over Japan. Sounds too good to be true? No, it isn’t. In fact, it comes in all shapes and sizes. The catch though, these are all inedible. Kappabashi is the famous home of food replica artists, who has been refining the art of creating mouthwatering replicas of Japanese dishes. These food replicas have become a staple in Japanese restaurants, to help diners, mainly tourists, in choosing the right food they’d like to show. Some of the stores even offer lessons to make these beautiful mockups for about ¥2000.
Surely, shopping (even if its just window shopping) and staring at these jaw-dropping food replicas would make one hungry. Some food stops along the kitchenware town to refill includes Bridge Coffee and Ice Cream, which showcases an industrial feel for its interiors and serves both hot and cold coffee as well a decent ice cream selection to cool you down. Sweet tooths are going to love Asakusaumegen, a confectionery store selling classic Japanese treats made from sweet bean paste and sweet potatoes. Lastly, one can celebrate having a good find in Kappabashi at Sake no Sanwa. The store not only retails sake per bottle, but you can also have a drink (or two) of sake from the tasting list for ¥500.
Kappabashi may not have the best restaurants in town but it is indeed a go-to arena for food enthusiasts, professional chefs, home cooks, and even those who would just like to bring home a kitchen trinket as a memento of your Japan adventure.
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.