See why shopping on Kappabashi Street was a highlight of our visit to Tokyo. This Tokyo street is a mandatory destination for anybody who loves food as much as we do and a great spot to shop for Tokyo souvenirs.
A large, mustached chef atop a corner building welcomed us to Kappabashi Street Tokyo – an extraordinary shopping mecca in Tokyo where tourists, home cooks and chefs shop for all kinds of pottery, kitchen tools and gadgets. You name it and it’s here on this famous Japan street, from cutlery to chopsticks to skewers to Japanese kitchen knives.
The choices abound with a myriad of colors, shapes and unique Japanese flair.
Kappabashi Street is well known throughout Tokyo and all of Japan. The street even has its own mascot called Kappa which you will see if you visit the Monster Cafe Harajuku. Even better, go to the crazy, multi-sensory Robot Cafe.
Make a discounted reservation for a truly memorable experience at the Robot Cafe.
After touring nearby Sensoji Temple, we walked straight to Kappabashi Street, or Kappabashi Dori as it is called in Tokyo. Note, Kappabashi Street is also near popular Asakusa Temple if you’re coming from that direction.
Book a 5-hour Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa Tour. You can visit Kappabashi Street before or after the tour.
We loved strolling along the famous street, perusing the 150+ shops filled with everything and anything for the home kitchen and restaurant. The variety and selection are truly overwhelming, making this the best Tokyo shopping district and a great spot to buy Tokyo souvenirs. Seriously, we could have shopped here all day without getting bored.
Make Kappabashi Street your last stop of the day. You will want to go back to your hotel to drop off your purchases before you refresh for dinner.
What To Buy On Kappabashi Street
The selection of Tokyo pottery on Kappabashi Street is overwhelming but in a good way.
It would be impossible to walk down this kitchen theme street without finding at least one piece to buy. The only challenge is to decide what to buy because there is so much beautiful pottery available at reasonable prices. In other words, you should plan to buy several pieces of pottery.
Be sure to tell the sales clerk if you will be traveling with pottery. You will want to make sure they wrap your purchase well so that it won’t break in flight. This tip applies any time you’re shopping in Tokyo.
As for us, we bought a few special pieces at Tousyougama, a shop that stood out to us for its distinctive style of pottery and its wide selection. This shop is a bit more expensive than many of the Kappabashi ceramics shops scattered along the street, but this is because their pieces are of higher quality.
We especially love the sake set that we bought for ourselves here. The other pieces we bought made excellent gifts for close friends and family.
Be sure to check out Tousyougama if you’re wondering where to buy ceramics in Tokyo.
If you’re wondering where to buy chopsticks in Tokyo, there are lots of chopsticks for sale on Kappabashi Street. They are available in lots of colors, and the prices are very reasonable.
In fact, there are walls of chopsticks. Just walk into any store on Kappabashi Street and you will likely find chopsticks. If you don’t see them, just look up or ask for assistance.
Interestingly, you can buy all types of fake food intended for restaurants to use for enticing customers with visual examples. We were intrigued by the diversity (sushi, spaghetti, sundaes, etc.) of plastic food samples not to mention the high prices for this faux food.
Though we almost bought a gag gift for Daryl’s brother Lou, we didn’t pull the trigger because it turns out that Japanese plastic food is surprisingly expensive. Who knew?!
If you’re set on buying Kappabashi plastic food as a souvenir from Tokyo, buy a food-shaped magnet or two as a cost-effective alternative. Magnets are much less expensive and won’t add much weight to your luggage. The sushi shaped magnets are particularly cute.
Some Kappabashi stores cater to caterers with all kinds of Japanese utensils and serving pieces. These pieces are lightweight should you want to buy something spruce up your next party.
Other shops specialize in Japanese cookware. We were tempted to buy our very own takoyaki maker, but we passed because we knew that carrying something so heavy halfway around the world didn’t make sense.
In retrospect, we wish we bought one so that we could cook fried octopus balls at home in Philadelphia. Now wouldn’t that be fun!
Japanese Knife Shopping On Kappabashi Street
The best part of Kappabashi Street, at least for us, is the street’s excellent Japanese knife selection.
Buying a Japanese chef’s knife was a priority for our first trip to Tokyo, and we didn’t want to buy an overpriced knife at a tourist trap store. We looked at some markets and stores first but decided to make the big purchase on Kappabashi Street, the best place to buy knives in Tokyo.
Once we walked through the door, we knew right away that Kappabashi knife shop Kama-Asa was the real deal. Apparently, it’s the oldest Tokyo kitchen utensil store. The store’s service is excellent with an English-speaking sales representative, and the Japanese chef knife selection is both plentiful and reasonably priced.
As a bonus, Kama-Asa has a small selection of knives specifically designed for left-handed people which appealed to us since Daryl is left-handed. Though this priority limited our options, we found a stylish ambidextrous knife for a fair price.
Once we made our Japanese knife purchase, the Kappabashi knife store’s on-site artisan engraved Daryl’s name on the knife. The artisan engraved the name with Japanese letters, making the knife a wonderful Tokyo souvenir in addition to a functional Japanese kitchen knife.
Buying Kappabashi Street knives in Tokyo is a must. This is something that you can’t do at home for the same price.
Our only regret is just buying just one knife. Next time, we will return to this lively Tokyo kitchen district and buy another Japanese chef knife. Maybe we’ll even have it engraved with Mindi’s name.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: May 28, 2013