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Kappabashi Chef

Shopping on Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street

In Japan, Shopping by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch22 Comments

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.

Chef Statue - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

A large, moustached chef atop a corner building welcomed us to Kappabashi Street Tokyo – an extraordinary shopping mecca 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.

Once we heard about this themed Tokyo kitchen street, a visit was a must. Since we couldn’t take home ramen, soba or even sushi, we needed to buy some souvenirs of our time in Tokyo. 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.)

We loved strolling along the 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.

Pro Tip:  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.

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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.

Pro Tip:  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 a higher quality. We especially love the sake set that we bought for ourselves here, and the other pieces made excellent gifts. Be sure to check out this shop if you’re wondering where to buy ceramics in Tokyo.

Pottery Shop - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Pottery spills into the street at one of the many Kappabashi Street ceramics shops.

Random Pottery Shop Kappabashi Street Tokyo Japan

Random Pottery Shop

Pottery - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

A Plethora of Pottery

Pottery Plates - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Pottery Plates

Pottery Bowls - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Pottery Bowls

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.

Chopsticks - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Tokyo Chopsticks Display

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.

Chopstick Wall - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Chopstick Wall

Interestingly, you can buy all types of fake, plastic 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?!

Fake Pasta - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Pasta Anyone?

Fake Dessert - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

How about Dessert?

Pro Tip:  If you’re set on buying Kappabashi plastic food as a souvenir from Tokyo, buying a sushi-shaped magnet or two is a cost-effective alternative. Plus magnets 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.

Serving Toothpicks - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Serving Toothpicks

Colorful Baskets - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Colorful Baskets

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!

Takoyaki Pan - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Takoyaki Pan

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. If you’re wondering what to buy in Tokyo, this is the place to go for Kappabashi knives.

Beautiful Knives - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Beautiful Knives

More Beautiful Knives - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

More Beautiful Knives

Japanese Knife Purchase - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Daryl with the Chosen Knife and the Helpful Sales Associate

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. Trust us, buying Kappabashi Street knives in Tokyo is a must. This is something that you can’t do at home for the same price.

Artisan Knife Engraver at Kama-Asa - Shopping on Tokyo's Kappabashi Street in Japan Tokyo

Artisan Knife Engraver at Kama-Asa

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.


Hungry for more? Check out our article about Tokyo’s Ramen Street.


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Comments

  1. Thank you for such a detailed post on the items you can find in Kappabashi. I am headed to japan next year and will definitely being going past this

    1. Author

      Tokyo has everything – even a street for kitchen goods. We love it too!

  2. First I need to master HOW to use chopsticks, and then I will brave that wall selling nothing BUT chopsticks. This place looks fantastic.

    1. Author

      San Francisco would be a good place to learn how to use chop sticks, just saying…

  3. Wow! That street certainly has a lot of items! I have never seen so much dishware in one place in my life!

    1. Author

      Tokyo seems to do everything to the extreme. Kappabashi Street is no exception.

    1. Author

      We were blown away by the extremes in Tokyo from the technology, to the sports, to the cuisine and even to the shopping. What a city!

  4. I’m about to go to Kappabashi too, so this post was really helpful!
    However, I was wondering – which kind of knife did you buy and at what price?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      We bought a knife made for the store Kama-Asa. It was only 65 yen, which included a free engraving. Three years later, and we use the knife at home often and are very satisfied with it. The store also sells specialty knives geared more for chefs, though these knives are more expensive.

  5. Just out of. Uriosity, how did you get the knife home? It is not TSA friendly, and I am afraid of theft in checked bags…

    1. Author

      We packed the knife in our suitcase and had no problem with the TSA or theft. Good luck if you pack one as well!

  6. The Tousyougama pottery looks quite creative. It’s no wonder you took home a few pieces and, of course, the engraved knife.

    1. Author

      Our only issue was that the plastic food was kind of expensive. Did you buy some when you were there?

  7. What an awesome spot! The underground layer of the Pike Place Market in Seattle is kind of like this… but without the weird restaurant supplies. Yeah, I would dig browsing around for some nice, small rice bowls.

    1. Author

      We love our Japanese rice bowls. Then again, we also love Seattle coffee.

    1. Author

      Tokyo is not really a haggling city, so probably not. We made our Kappabashi Street purchases in stores, and there was no haggling involved at all. However, the pricing was very fair for the quality.

  8. Buying knives in Kappabashi may be a bit tricky. It may be difficult to differentiate a ‘pretty’ knife from a sturdy, quality one especially for a first time buyer. Some knives are aesthetically amazing, but they don’t necessarily need to go hand in hand with edge retention, quality and sharpness.
    In very general terms, the price and quality of the knife are determined by:
    – The quality of steel or alternative material used to create the blade.
    – The method used to create the shape of the blade. (stamped, roll forged, drop forged, hand forged, hand hammered etc.)
    – The sharpness, the longevity of the edge and ability to prevent rusting
    – Frequency of resharpening
    – The balance and feel of the knife
    – Quality of handle and quality of manufacturing and forging

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