I can’t let you leave Tokyo without going to Kappabashi Street. Even if you’re not a big foodie, the kitchenware district is filled with all kinds of entertaining things, including stores that sell those amazingly realistic food models you see outside Japanese restaurants.
First, the food model shops! You’ve probably seen these good-enough-to-eat works of art in display windows outside Tokyo restaurants. They have to be luscious-looking, because they’re the main way restaurants recruit new customers. Each dish is custom-made to exactly replicate the dish as it’s made at the restaurant. They have to deliver the real thing to the food model artist, so the ingredients, cutting style, and amounts can be faithfully rendered in plastic!
With a little advance planning (and a Japanese-speaking guide) you can go to a workshop and make some plastic food.
But Kappabashi Street offers more than just plastic food. You can find things sold only in Japan at nearly every store.
Most stores open from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Some stores are closed on the weekends
One last thing: as we walk back toward Tawara-machi Station, let’s stop and see the Rakugo Shrine. Rakugo is traditional Japanese comic storytelling, with a long history of wandering actors entertaining the townsfolk of yore. But during WWI, fifty-three of the most famous rakugo stories were entombed at this shrine forever.
And if you’re up for a little more walking, let’s keep going from Tawaramachi Station along the main street toward Ueno Station. We’ll find ourselves in another fascinating, specialized district: Inari-cho, the funeral goods and Shinto shrine shopping area. I know – who would want to see THAT? But take a peek:
And while you’re in the neighborhood, these two are within walking distance:
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Jonelle Patrick is the author of five novels set in Japan
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
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