Destination: Asakusa/Kappabashi Dori

For most foreign tourists, Asakusa is their taste of Japanese religion. Asakusa's Sensoji Temple is probably the most visited temple in Japan, and it is surrounded by other temples and shrines, allowing tourists to see and experience a small taste of how Japanese people follow Buddhist and Shinto ways. The famous shopping street Nakamise leads to the temple offering all sorts of local goods and souvenirs.

But Asakusa has other great sites within walking distance, and a whole day or more can easily be spent there. A Taiko drum museum (I haven't visited yet) is a couple blocks from the temple. Also nearby is Hanayashiki, a small traditional amusement park. Rickshaws wait to carry tourists around town on an expensive yet memorable tour, and the area still mostly has an olden-days feel.

But a short walk from the temples across the river bring you to two more modern destinations.
 On the left, with the golden top, is the Asahi Super Dry Hall; behind it with the white top is the Asahi Beer Tower. The tower is designed to look like a mug of beer, while the hall with the golden sperm/poo is actually supposed to resemble a golden flame. You can enjoy some beer and a meal in this area, or head further on to Tokyo SkyTree, towering to the right.
 Look down some side streets while you're there. This street probably hasn't changed since the 1950s. Unlike many of the other popular areas of Tokyo, Asakusa doesn't get bulldozed over for new skyscrapers too often. SkyTree is actually in Oshiage, not Asakusa.
 But follow the river south from Asakusa and look up at the short skyscrapers. When you find the giant chef's head, you've found Kappabashi Dori.
 Across the street from the giant chef is this building with coffee cup balconies. Kappabashi Dori is he place where restaurants and chefs go to get their equipment. Each store sells something different. One store may sell only knives, while another sells restaurant chairs and tables. At least one store sells only signs. Those little food models you see in windows outside restaurants can be bought here (I still need to buy one). Industrial-sized and hard-to-find ovens and specialty cooking equipment is everywhere.
 If you need glassware, find the store selling glassware.
 Do you need coffee pots or teapots? There's a store for that, with very beautiful copper and stainless steel ones sitting right outside.
 One of my favorite stores was the cookie cutter store. I'm sure they sold some other things but outside they had hundreds of cookie cutters in every imaginable shape. Amazing.
How big do you want your cookie? I counted up to five different sizes for one particular shape and there might have been more!

If you consider yourself a chef, you'll want to walk down Kappabashi Dori. Prices are good and quality is high, because this is where the real chefs of Tokyo buy their supplies. And you can find some really great gadgets here that aren't carried in American stores.

For any cultural tourist, Asakusa is a must-visit for the shrines, the older feel of the neighborhood, and the tallest tourist destination in Japan, SkyTree. You can get there via several subway lines, but it isn't located on the Yamanote Line (which may be why it hasn't seen as much redevelopment). It's taken me at least three afternoon trips to see the temples, Kappabashi Dori, Nakamise, Hanayashiki, and to visit the Asahi Tower. And I'll be back again soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment