Kappabashi – Hashitou for Chopsticks 合羽橋のはしとう

Disposable Chopsticks at Hashitou

Disposable Chopsticks at Hashitou

Hashitou in Kappabashi

Hashitou in Kappabashi

Hashitou はし藤

Taito-ku, Nishi-Asakusa 2-6-2  台東区西浅草2-6-2

03-3844-0723

www.hashitou.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Hashitou specializes in chopsticks, including the disposable type if you entertain a lot at home. Naturally there is a selection of hashioki (chopstick rests). There is a nice selection of skewers and long picks that would brighten up any appetizer plate, as well as toothpicks.

Foodie’s Guide to Kappabashi 合羽橋

Sushi Refrigerator Magnets

Sushi Refrigerator Magnets

Kappabashi is a wonderland for chefs. Here you will find almost everything that one would need for cooking. While it is famous for its plastic food models, that is only a tiny part of what you will find in this area, very close to Asakusa, the popular tourist destination. It is a short walk from Asakusa so should not be missed.

This article, which first appeared in Metroplis magazine, highlights some of my favorite kitchen tools that can be found in Kappabashi.

http://archive.metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/608/localflavors.asp (text follows)

The walk up Nakamise Dori towards Sensoji in Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s classic tourist destinations (and, as the cheap trinkets on all sides attest, one of its primary tourist traps). However, Asakusa has an allure for another group as well: serious cooks.

The Kappabashi area of Asakusa has everything a budding chef could possibly want. It primarily caters to restaurateurs, but nonprofessionals will have just as much fun. Most shops specialize in one particular item, from chopsticks to chinaware via coffee and bamboo. Others, like Pro-Pack, resemble little department stores, with floors of crockery and cutlery, pots and pans, containers and food.

The selection changes throughout the year, which is the reason to keep coming back. This summer I picked up bamboo trays and glass bowls for cold somen noodles. Last week, with chillier weather approaching, stores were stocked with winter essentials, and I grabbed some packs of waribashi (disposable chopsticks) for nabe parties.

You will find it hard to leave empty-handed, especially given all the tempting “must-have” kitchen gadgets on the shelves. The more you become familiar with Japanese food, the more tools you recognize, and part of the fun is learning what each is for.

My top pick is a mandolin, which will cut vegetables paper thin (and your fingers too, so slice carefully). In second place is a handcrafted oroshigane for grating ginger, garlic and daikon.
Knives are also good things to buy in Kappabashi, but if you’re going to invest in a set, be sure to shop around. Some of my cooking friends get their knives sharpened at a store called Kamata, which can re-blade an edge even after years of neglect.

Remember that Kappabashi often (although not always) deals in quantity over quality. Personally, I think the best knives in the city are found at Kiya, a shop located not in Kappabashi but Nihonbashi. Likewise, for top quality pottery I would head to a major department store. However, for simple, sturdy plates and bowls, Kappabashi has a huge variety at low prices. Some shops will deliver, which is much better than having to drag your dishes through the subway.

Before you leave, stock up on presents: plastic food magnets make fun gifts, and for close friends pick up some lacquerware—light, elegant and easy to care for. But most of all, Kappabashi is the place to treat yourself and your kitchen. We are all “Iron Chefs” deep inside—we just need the tools to get there, and Kappabashi is where we can find them.

Gotta Gets
• Mandolin for cutting veggies
• Waribashi (disposable chopsticks)
• Bamboo skewers for hors d’oeuvres
• Hashioki chopstick rests
• Lacquerware for the table
• Plastic food magnets
• Noren curtains for your home
• Wrapping paper and containers

“Kappabashi Kitchenware Town” is halfway between Asakusa and Ueno. The closest stations are Inaricho and Tawaramachi on the Ginza Line and Iriya on the Hibiya Line. Many shops are closed on Sundays.

Maizuru in Kappabashi for Plastic Food Samples

Maizuru

Maizuru

Most visitors to Kappabashi expect to find several shops selling plastic food samples including key chains, clocks, magnets, cell phone straps, and full size samples. There are only a handful of shops but they will not disappoint. This one in the photo above is one of Maizuru’s shops (there are two).

Maiduru Honten まいづる本店

Taito-ku, Nishi-Asakusa 1-5-17

Phone: 03-3843-1686

www.maiduru.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Realistic plastic fish.

Realistic plastic fish.

Plastic fish filets.

Plastic fish filets.

Plastic sushi and sashimi.

Plastic sushi and sashimi.

Sushi refrigerator magnets.

Sushi refrigerator magnets.

Sweets, crepes, donburi, sashimi, and sushi.

Sweets, crepes, donburi, sashimi, and sushi.

Ice cold beer with a thick head of foam.

Ice cold beer with a thick head of foam.

Okuda Shouten Shiten in Kappabashi for Bamboo Products

Okuda Shouten Shiten

Okuda Shouten Shiten

This shop features bamboo products. Strainers, steamers, bamboo baskets for soba, tempura, or for large strainers, chopsticks, handai for making sushi rice, bento boxes, bowls for miso soup. I have picked up many items here including long cooking chopsticks, otoshibuta (wooden drop lids for pots), and a large, bamboo basket that I take to the market. The basket is square shaped and can be filled with many items. This is one of my favorite shops on the Kappabashi Street.

Okuda Shouten Shiten オクダ商店支店

Taito-ku, Nishi-Asakusa 1-5-10

Phone: 03-3844-4511

www.kappabashi.or.jp/shops/32.html (Japanese)

Takahashi Souhonten in Kappabashi for Pottery and Ceramics

Noren (banner) at Takahashi Souhonten

Noren (banner) at Takahashi Souhonten

Takahashi Souhonten in Kappabashi

Takahashi Souhonten in Kappabashi

Takahashi has a wide selection of pottery including ramen bowls, teapots, teacups nabe hot pots, and plates and bowls.

Takahashi Souhonten 高橋総本店

Taito-ku, Nishi-Asakusa 1-5-10

Phone: 03-3845-1163

www.takaso.jp/contents/store/ceramic.html (Japanese)

Kappabashi – Getting There

The Kappabashi area is packed with shops for chefs and restaurateurs and a great area to explore for any foodie. It is a short walk from the historic Asakusa temple area. Getting there is easy. Below are the photos that will help you get there from Tawaramachi train station on the Ginza line.

Exit #3 of Tawaramachi station on the Ginza line

Exit #3 of Tawaramachi station on the Ginza line

Take exit number three at Tawaramachi station on the Ginza line. It is the second to last stop before Asakusa.

Shop at the top of the stairs of exit number three.

Shop at the top of the stairs of exit number three.

When you exit the station you are standing in front of this interesting shop selling altars for the home. It stands on the corner. Walk around the corner and start walking down the street on your right.

Japanese post office

Japanese post office

You will see a post office to your right. Continue walking past the post office and go straight. You will pass on your right a local supermarket, called Akafudado. It is worth poking your head in and walking through to see where the locals shop. There is a small deli section in back with bento boxes – a good option for lunch as there are few restaurants at Kappabashi.

Chef mascot of Kappabashi

Chef mascot of Kappabashi

Walk about three blocks until you arrive at this giant chef on top of the building to your right. You have arrived to the main street of Kappabashi!

Kappabashi – Pottery at Dengama

Kappabashi landmark

Kappabashi landmark

Dengama

Dengama

Near the Asakusa temple district is Kappabashi, an area where chefs and restaurateurs come to buy anything they need to set up shop. Open to the general public, it is a great destination for anyone who likes to cook at home. It is an easy area to navigate as most of the shops line a major street. There are several pottery shops, but one of my favorite is Dengama, just next to the police box (koban). The two floors of the shop offer everything from teapots, rice bowls, chopstick rests (hashioki), and much more. There is a shipping service, often next day. The shop is oven seven days a week.

Dengama 田窯

 

Nishi-Asakusa 1-4-3  台東区西浅草1−4−3

Tel. 03-5828-9355

www.kappabashi.or.jp/shops/101.html (Japanese)