Kappabashi-dori (合羽橋): A Foodie's Dream

Kappabashi street sign.

Whether you own a restaurant somewhere in Tokyo and need a few items to run your business properly or are a foodie who loves to collect beautiful dishes and utensils with which to eat and present your creations, Kappabashi-dori or Kitchen Town is the place for you! However, if you aren't a chef, entrepreneur, or self-proclaimed foodie, you might still find Kappabashi-dori interesting due to the sheer volume of goods related to the restaurant and food preparation businesses present there. I cooking and food styling are my hobbies, so Kappabashi-dori was high on my must-visit list.
Seven Uniform seems to be the
biggest uniform shop on the street.

While many of the businesses in the area are on Kappabashi St., Kitchen Town actually extends to several of the alleys that branch off from the main road. On foot, it's about 15 to 20 minutes away from Sensō-ji Temple(浅草寺)in Asakusa(浅草). There are many interesting shops in Kitchen Town, but an exploration of the area only needs about one hour.

The jury seems to still be out on how Kappabashi received it's name. It either comes from the word kappa(合羽) or raincoats as people on the street used to hang them out of their windows, or Kihachi Kappaya (合羽屋喜八), a merchant led the efforts to build the Shinhorikawa River. However, the shop owners of Kitchen Town agree that the mythical Kappa creature is the mascot of the area, and the animal is seen in several locations on the street.
A glorious display of
knives at a custom knife shop.
I almost bought one!
From my observations, the shops in Kitchen Town seem to belong to one of three groups: strictly restauranteur, specialty, and hodgepodge kitchenware. The stores geared heavily toward restaurant owners commonly feature restaurant furniture, uniforms, and sampuru (サンプル)or plastic samples of food, custom made of course. 

The specialty stores were my favorite. There were shops featuring the usual suspects in kitchen like chefs' knives and steamers to more specific items like earthenware and tea cups.

A flask store.
Small steamers for sale.
Handmade earthenware of all sizes.
Chopstick holders were the highlight
of this store.
A gradient of teacups to fit any cafe's color scheme.
Ceramic cups.
More ceramics.
I bought the brown and green sushi plate.
Containers of all sizes crammed together.
The hodgepodge stores reminded me of Taiwan's shenghuo baihuo(生活百貨)shops, or stores that sell of of life's necessities like cheap dishes, tape, cleaning supplies, etc. (basically like dollar stores, in terms of variety). The stores sell all types of kitchen needs, crammed into a thumbnail-sized store. It was fun to crawl through the little mazes and checkout what was hidden.
Don't let the clutter keep you from a bargain!
Kappabashi is not necessarily a tourist attraction, and you won't see many tourists there. However, it's worth the time if you'd like to see another side of the Tokyo restaurant industry, or want to take intermediate stop between walking from Asakusa to Ueno (or vice versa). Chances are, you might find a cute plate or a nice lunchbox. Aren't those better souvenirs than a keychain?

I have no clue what the huge beetle
signifies...or that that shop sells
as I was too afraid to check it out!

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