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Kappabashi Dougu Street: The Center of Japan’s Culinary Cookware



2023.02.23 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

Located in Taito-ku, Tokyo, between Asakusa and Ueno, Kappabashi Dougu Street, or Tool Street, stretches one kilometer from Asakusa and Ueno and boasts the highest concentration of cooking-related tool shops in Japan, with more than 200 stores specializing in kitchen and cooking-related equipment. It is said to have originated about 100 years ago, when people selling antique tools opened shops on both banks of the Shinbori River, which is now nothing more than a culvert, and is still a mecca for professional-quality kitchen products and low prices.

Often frequented by hotel chefs, Kappabashi Dougu Street offers deep discounts on a wide range of professional products from stores that sell tableware, lacquerware, confectionery, ironware, kitchen knives, cooking utensils, kitchen equipment, decorations, uniforms and lab coats, displays, curtains, display cases, food samples, and more. If possible, visit during the week when all the shops are open.

There are two popular theories about the origin of the name "Kappa-bashi". One is that samurai and others used to dry their kappa, or raincoats, on the bridge on sunny days, and the other is from an anecdote about a different kind of kappa (a mythical creature often depicted as a water spirit with a beak-like mouth) who helped with construction work in the area. However, there is a statue of Kappa Kawataro standing in a small park along Kappabashi Dougu Street, so it is easy to guess the more popular of the two theories.

Japanese and foreigners alike come to buy all kinds of kitchen items. Kappabashi Dougu Street has everything! One store boasts up to 20,000 items in stock, with another 20,000 available to order! Famous for their sharp edges, chef’s knives are popular with foreign visitors, but there is so much more!

Takoyaki grill? Check! Giant paperclip over 25 cm long?? Check!
Giant chef statue, on top of a building? Check!
Locomotive-themed children's dinner plate complete with (dry ice powered) steam? Check!

Come any time of the year to find the best kitchen tools, or visit during the "Kappabashi Tool Festival" held every year from early to mid-October.

For more information about shops to be found there, check out the official website for “Kappabashi Dougu Street specialty stores for the food service industry”

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