Not everyone’s kappa tea…

Wandering around the streets of Tokyo looking at kitchenware may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I discovered it was mine two weeks ago. I had never visited Kappabashi-dori before, as I really couldn’t see the attraction of shop upon shop full of kitchen goods and restaurant supplies. However, once you get there it’s clear that there’s a lot more to Kappabashi than pots and pans…

Kappabashi-dori

You can buy everything from popcorn and candyfloss (cotton candy) makers:

Kappabashi-dori

To cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes:

Kappabashi-dori

Traditional Japanese lacquerware:

Kappabashi-dori

Authentic American diner goods:

Kappabashi-dori

Takoyaki plates:

Kappabashi-dori

Chopstick rests in various designs:

Kappabashi-dori

Lanterns, blackboards and whiteboards:

Kappabashi-dori

Fake cherry blossom:

Kappabashi-dori

Chinese goods:

Kappabashi-dori

And giant shark heads to decorate your restaurant:

Kappabashi-dori

So where does Kappabashi get its unusual name?  Well, according to Wikipedia:

The street’s name is believed to come from either the kappa (raincoats) of nearby residents which were hang out to dry on the bridge, or from a merchant named Kihachi Kappaya who funded the project to build Shinhorikawa River for water management. However, due to the homophone with the popular mythical creature, Kappa, the group of shops along the street officially adopted kappa as its mascot.

And there are kappa everywhere! There are statues:

Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

Pictures:

Kappabashi-dori

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Kappa

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Kappa

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Kappa

Lanterns:

Kappa lantern

Vending machines:

Kappa vending machine

Even inflatable kappa:

Kappa

In fact, there’s even a small temple in one of the back streets which is dedicated to the strange little creatures. The temple is called Sogenji and I first found out about it here. The temple itself is really not anything to write home about:

Sogenji (Kappa Temple)

…but it does have these rather peculiar little kappa statues that took me by surprise and made it worth the visit:

Sogenji (Kappa Temple)

It seems to wrong to have statues like this in a temple, right next to a Buddha statue:

Sogenji (Kappa Temple)

Naturally, along the way there are a few places where you can stop and buy kappa souvenirs. I liked this shop:

Kappa souvenir shop

I bought myself some cute kappa sweets there:

Kappa sweets

I’m really glad I took the time to wander down Kappabashi-dori. I saw some interesting and curious things, and even got a glimpse of the new Tokyo Sky Tree as I was walking:

IKappabashi-dori

I walked from Ueno Zoo to Kappabashi-dori, and then on to Asakusa and Senso-ji (more info on Asakusa and Senso-ji coming soon!). If you like walking, I highly recommend this route. I did it all with the aid of Google Maps and the GPS on my phone, and it was very easy to navigate. You can see the location of the places I’ve mentioned on a map here.

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This post is a Show Me Japan entry for this week. Don’t forget to check out the others! 🙂

10 thoughts on “Not everyone’s kappa tea…

  1. I love the Kappabashi Area. We first went because Sean loves the fake food that you find in restaurants here, and there’s some great sources in Kappabashi. Some shops will sell the reject stuff, which may not be absolutely perfect (oh no, this mushroom is slightly out of place! There aren’t exactly 37 Udon noodles!) but is still pretty neat! It’s one of his favorite souvenirs to get for people.

    Also, those are some oddly anatomically correct kappa at that temple!

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  2. I love Kappabashi. I can find many affordable stuff I can buy as a bulk souvenirs from the shops there to give to random people back home.

    Going in and out the stores was absolutely fun for me.

    Never saw that green vending machine. Where can I find it? 🙂

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  3. Kappabashi was one of my favorite places to walk around. I remember it closed too early and many of the things that I wanted to buy I would have to buy in bulk to get but otherwise it was so much fun! So many unique things around and not only in the shops for sale but on the buildings and scattered around the place.

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