Tokyo is full of diverse neighborhoods, from swanky shopping districts to tiny shotengai (shopping streets) lined with mom and pop shops. Kappabashi is one such specialized neighborhood, overlooked by a towering bust of a mustachioed chef atop the Niimi tableware wholesale shop. Once you spot it, you’ll know you’re in Tokyo’s iconic Kitchen Town, Kappabashi. As its English name implies, Kappabashi is a spot where you’ll find all things kitchen-related, a place where restaurateurs, food business owners, chefs, and home cooks come to congregate.
This bustling kitchenware area was first established in 1912 when merchants flocked to the area to sell second-hand kitchen implements. Today, almost 170 restaurant supply stores grace Kappabashi, with sellers offering anything and everything related to kitchenware and eating, from Nambu ironware to Japanese artisan knives to specialized cooking equipment.
Here are some fantastic shops to check out in Kappabashi!
For those with a penchant for the classic Japanese-style tableware, like ceramic bowls and iron teapots, head over to Wa No Utsuwa Dengama. It’s the go-to shop for Japanese pottery. They sell rice bowl sets made of Arita porcelain, cute ochoko (sake cups), stunning teapots, and glassware. Or, if you don’t have much room in your luggage, how about taking home some colorful chopstick rests as a souvenir?
Japanese blades are renowned internationally for their high quality, and Kappabashi houses knives from artisanal makers that have turned steel blades into 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 gorgeously patterned Damascus steel 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.
Another perfect souvenir that won't take up too much room in your suitcase is chopsticks! At Mikura, the staff will gladly assist you in selecting the right set. You can even ask for the chopsticks to be engraved.
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. You can also stock up on your specialized barista tools.
At Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya, you can find shockingly realistic Japanese replica foods, also known as food samples.Their products include magnets and key chains in addition to the classic food samples that you can see outside of restaurants in Japan. You can also pick up a DIY food sample kit and make your own food replicas at home.
Lastly, you can find your perfect sake in Kappabashi Kitchen Town at Sake no Sanwa, a foreigner-friendly sake retailer which has English materials provided. The store not only sells bottles of sake, but you can also have a flight of sake from the tasting list for ¥500, so you can try them before you decide on a bottle.
Here are some great places for a bite to eat in Kappabashi!
Need some fuel for your shopping adventure? Close to Kappabashi, Tokyo’s Kitchen Town, awaits the trendy Bridge Coffee and Ice Cream. The store was designed specially by an architectural firm, and features industrial interior decor. Serving both hot and cold coffee (beans supplied by Little Nap Coffee Stand), they also have a decent selection of homemade ice cream to cool you down.
Folks with a sweet tooth will love Asakusa Umegen, a confectionery store selling traditional Japanese wagashi made from sweet bean paste and sweet potatoes. They have been in business for over 100 years, and have been making their wagashi without any extra additives or preservatives for all that time. Recently, they also became certified by the Japan Halal Association. Japanese wagashi are vegetarian, and usually vegan as well, so everyone can enjoy these tasty and cute sweets! Curious to find out more about Japanese traditional sweets? Check out our article and video featuring historic Wagashi Shops in Tokyo.
A short walk away from Kappabashi Kitchen Town, Sometaro Okonomiyaki is a charming, old-school okonomiyaki joint. Overgrown by plants, it might be a little hard to spot, but it’s a very popular place where you can experience DIY okonomiyaki. The interior is rustic and retro. Upon entering, you take off your shoes and sit on a cushion at a low table. There is no air con, but the food is absolutely delicious, the atmosphere is traditionally Japanese, and the shop staff are attentive and help out with the cooking process upon request. Plus, they are foreigner-friendly with an English menu handy.
A local soba restaurant which also serves up delicious fried delights, like tempura and tonkatsu, Sobadokoro Yamato is a bit of a hidden gem. The shop has been operating for over 60 years, serving up tempura soba, hot or cold, just how you like it. The atmosphere is no-frills, no-fuss, minimalist and comforting; and with an English menu, it’s very foreigner-friendly.
With a menu that accommodates Halal, vegetarian, and vegan dietary needs, Sweets Cafe Tokyo has dishes for everyone! Even lovers of savory foods can enjoy a tasty tempura lunch set or dinner here, though they also have some fluffy, golden-brown French toast for breakfast. The owner and staff are all extremely kind and welcoming, which is the main reason why guests keep coming back! It’s a comfortable environment where you can even try your hand at making matcha tea or Japanese calligraphy. After a day of shopping on your feet, Sweets Cafe Tokyo is a lovely spot to relax and grab a bite to eat.
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