This week we introduce a new walking route in
and around Kappabashi Dori, famous for its
plastic food samples and cutlery shops.
Kappabashi Dori, which is situated between
Takara-cho station and Iriya station, is one of
Tokyo’s (six) biggest wholesale streets. It is
loved by both restaurant professionals and
amateurs because you can find everything from
cheap cutlery to high grade kitchen tools and of
course the plastic food samples you see in
Japanese restaurants everywhere! There are
about 170 specialty shops for dishes, cooking
utensils, stoves, restaurant furniture, signs,
lanterns and more. We have carefully selected
spots to make your Kappabashi Dori experience
varied and fun so let’sgo! Don’t forget to stop on
the way to pick up some serious bargains!Today’s Walking Route
Takaracho Station Exit 1 →
1. Kama-asa store → 2. Curry Land →
3. Original Food Sample Shop →
4. Iriya Plus cafe → Iriya station exit 4
Distance: 2.2 km
Step count: 3,014 steps
Duration: 27 minutes + Shopping, Experience,
Budget: 4,000 yen
Although there are several stations in the
vicinity of "Kappabashi Dori", today we will
start from one of the nearest stations - Ginza
Line "Takaracho Station". After leaving Exit 1,
walk down Asakusa street for about 5 minutes.
Once you reach the Kikuyabashi intersection,
you might be taken aback by the huge 39-foot
chef's head that looms above you. This is the
Niimi building which sells tableware and kitchen
It is a long-established store founded in the
Meiji Era. It marks the entrance to Kappabashi
Dori and also makes for a fun picture!
First Stop - Kama-Asa: A long established
store that epitomizes Japanese
While walking along Kappabashi Dori, at around
the half way point, a fluttering store flag
marked by a pot lid may catch your eye. This is
“Kama-Asa” which specializes in kitchen tools
such as kitchen knives made by Japanese
craftsmen and Nambu ironware.
Pic 1 Don’t let Kama-Asa’s modern design fool
you - this store is more than 110 years old!
Kama-Asa’s main philosophy lies in making
“Ryouri Dougu” which means good tools. The
concept of Ryori Dougu is that only good tools
have value or reason to be used for a long time.
The essence of Japanese craftsmanship can be
displayed through carefully selecting only good
tools and customizing them to individual
Pic 2 You can find everything from the western
kitchen knives we use at home to traditional
knives used for Japanese cuisine
Everything in Kama-Asa can be hand-picked
and tested for comfort - including kitchen
knives. It is unusual to be able to even touch
a kitchen knife at a store in Japan. We tried as
many as 3 that day!
Pic 3 Left: "V-gold No1 series Santoku with
grooves" is made with air pockets that keep
the food from sticking to the blade.
Middle: Adorned with a pretty purple pattern,
easy to grip and not too big "SV-10 series
Right: "Blue Pattern Eye V10 Damascus Series
Santoku" with a rippling pattern on the blade.
Because it is made by overlaying steel
materials, it is relatively heavy compared to
the other two. "
There is a counter made of the same material
as a chopping board, and we were able to try
cutting and chopping ingredients. Kitchen
knives range from light to slightly heavier - for
most people this is a personal preference. For
cooking beginners, we recommend Santoku
They are light, you can choose the shape of the
handle, and they have pretty patterns to make
your cooking journey fun!
Pic 4 Left / One of Kama-Asa’s staple items,
marked with the shops name.
Right /Nambu Ironware produced in Iwate
Prefecture in a small size that is easy to use at
On the cooking utensils floor (2nd floor),
instruments such as Nambu ironware pots,
kettles and professional rice Ryori Dougu are
sold in sizes that can be used at home. There
are lots of cooking items on this floor that are
worth a look. We recommend that you
definitely stop by this store if you find yourself
on Kappabashi Dori!Kama-Asa
2-24-1 Matsugatani, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Business hours 10: 00-17: 30
Closed Fixed holidays throughout the year
* Following the refurbishment of the
"Cooking Utensils Floor" , until the fall of
2019 the "Cooking Utensils Floor" will be
on the second floor of "Kitchen Knife floor"
After exiting “Kama Asa”, cross to the other
side of Shinbori street (this is the main street
of Kappabashi Town). When you turn the
corner of the coffee shop "Union", you can
see "Tokyo Sky Tree" in front of you!
Pic 5 It was cloudy on the day, but if you squint
enough you can see the outline of Tokyo Sky
Second Stop - Curry Land: Choose your
favorite curry from over 200 flavors!
After walking straight towards "Tokyo Sky Tree"
and turning right at the 1st corner, what we saw
Pic 6 A dream vending machine for Curry
Boom! It’s a packed curry vending machine!
Often seen in magazines or on TV, “Curry
Land” specializes in packed/dry curries. At
any time, you will find about 200 kinds of
local curry lined up in the store. You can try
curries from different prefectures of Japan!
You can also sample various curries before
buying them and the kind staff also suggest
curries to suit your taste and mood!
Pic 7 There is a top ranking curry corner for
From the "Tochigi lemon milk curry” (540 yen
including tax) packed with local flavor using the
Tochigi specialty - lemon milk, to a shocking
blue "Final Curry Soup” (1,080 yen including
tax), there is a wide range of flavors to suit
(and shock) your palette. We also learnt about
many special products and ingredients we had
never heard of before.
The vending machine was set up as a response
to customers demanding curry even on store
holidays. As curry lovers, we hope that with the
media spotlight on this curry vending machine,
there will be an increase in curry vending
machines around the country.
Curry, curry everywhere!
Pic 8 Put money and push the number, the
crane picks up the goods and voila!
This time, we got "Bunkan Green Curry” (500
yen including tax) which uses citrus the
"Bunkan" from Shimanto in Kochi prefecture.
Of course, we bought it at vending machine!
This curry is said to be so popular that people
even distribute it around neighborhoods!
We can’t wait to try it! Curry Land
2-24-7 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Business hours 11: 00-19: 00
Closed holiday Tuesday
After the curry tasting (and buying) we
returned to Shinbori Dori. We entered
"Canyon" where you can find many white
dishes lining up the store!
Pic 9 Upper left / White dishes at the corner of
the shop front are a landmark!
Upper right / Aino Aalto's cool tumbler is less
than 1,000 yen!
Bottom left / Iittala's classic tea bowl limited
edition. First come first serve
Bottom right / Textile brand - Marimekko mug.
A great selection of different color variations!
Upon entering, we found a little corner where
the tableware of our favorite Scandinavian
brand were being sold at a discount! Lucky!
Iittala's popular series - Castellièmi's "Bowl
230ml (2,700 yen tax included)" was 30%
OFF! At a mere 1,890 yen, it was bought
without a second of hesitation! There were
several popular brands such as Marimekko
mugs and Roll Strand’s plates. It seems that
the products change seasonally, so we’ll be
back for more!Third Stop- Feel like a real craftsman:
Experience making plastic food samples
After walking for about 1 minute to the north,
we found a huge creepy-crawly!
Pic 10 Why aren’t the residents calling pest
It turns out that the first and second floor of
this building marked with a gigantic beetle
has an “original food sample shop" operated
by a long-established manufacturer of food
samples - "Iwasaki-BIA".
Here you can try a food sample making
experience (2,300 yen / 1 person including tax).
It is possible to experience the old-fashioned
recipe, which is to process molten wax in hot
Pic 11 You can choose two of the seven kinds
of tempura ingredients.
First of all, the staff showed us a model. He
explained the process slowly and in an
easy-to-understand manner. (The explanation
was in Japanese but with a little effort and
hand gesturing, anyone can try this!)
Pic 12 "Upper left / Put colored wax in about
42 degrees hot water. Apparently, the prawn
cover is made by pouring wax from up high.
Upper right / Place the shrimp on the
garment, wrap it up in the hot water and
finish it in no time.
Lower left / Lettuce uses green and white wax.
Bottom right / The completed work is almost a
piece of art!! Coming from a pro, that’s
We started by putting the colored wax in hot
water (about 42 degrees) and processing it.
The trick is to pour the wax from a height of
approximately 60 cm!
Pic 13 Our masterpiece! Tempura of shrimp,
tempura of lotus root and lettuce...
Can you tell..?
This time we tried tempura with lotus root,
shrimp and lettuce. It was more difficult than
expected, but made for a good memory.
Pic 14 "Upper left / These samples are good
enough to mistake as real!
Upper right / Different types of key-rings.
Bottom left / Bookmark of raw bacon (864 yen
including tax) and cooked bacon (972 yen
including tax)". Wonder why the cooked one
is more expensive!
Bottom right/ Yummy yummy (plastic) parfait!
On the first floor, unique and fun products such
as food sample key rings, bookmarks and even
food sample making kits are available! You can
surprise your friends and family back home
with these food souvenirs.Original Food Sample Shop Naka-bashi store
3-7-6 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Business hours 10: 00-17: 30
No regular holiday
Fourth Spot- Ending the walking journey on
a sweet note: Iriya Plus Café
Keep walking further North on the Kappabashi
Dori, then go to left after hitting the
If you turn right at the first corner beyond
Showa Dori, you will arrive at our final
destination "Iriya Plus Cafe".
Pic 15 The cafés name is not clearly marked
but you can recognize it by its cheerful
A beautiful café marked with blue and yellow,
Iriya Plus Café blends in with the Shitamachi
(downtown) atmosphere of Iriya. It was built by
renovating an old house built more than 50
years ago and is said to be the forerunner of the
recent "old private house" cafe boom!
Pic 16 They have a nice system where you can
choose your favorite seat
Inside the shop, tables and chairs of different
shapes are arranged. Everything matches the
retro atmosphere of the shop and there is a
sense of homeliness. Surrounded by warmth of
wooden walls and plenty of books, you can feel
safe and comfortable.
Pic 17 A cute little pat of butter on the
Shopping at Kappabashi Dori & doing food
sample making experiences can really make
one’s stomach grumble! The lunch we had
this time was a set of meatloaf and pancakes
(1,180 yen tax included) which is apparently
very popular with women. Large chunks of
zucchini were roasted inside the meatloaf.
The refreshing tomato sauce on top offset
the richness of the meatloaf. From the
signboard menu we found out that the
pancake uses rice flour which gives it
fluffiness - it did not fail to deliver! The
maple syrup on the side also wasn’t
We were recommended by the shop staff to try
"Egglesko (1,180 yen tax)” which is essentially
eggs and melted cheese overflowing on brioche
bread made of homemade natural yeast. We
can’t wait to come back and try this one!Ilya Plus Cafe
2-9-10 Shimodani, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tuesday to Friday 11: 30-20: 00 (L.O.19: 30)
Sat: 11: 00-20: 00 (L.O.19: 30)
Sun - Holiday: 11: 00-19: 00 (L.O.18: 30)
Today’s walk ends here. However, if you want to
continue, no worries there are still plenty of
shops to check out in Kappabashi Town.
As a side-note, there is a "Tool Festival" that is
held every year around October 9th which is
"Tool Day", and you can get even bigger
discounts for all that Kappabashi has to offer!
Original article in Japanese: