Tsubaki No Kura is a one stop shop to pick up some quintessential souvenirs from Japan. More than that though, it is a really pleasant shop to visit. It is as sensory as it is practical and perfectly photogenic. Burning incense with a tenuous hint of sake heighten the senses as you enter the store. Large hanging textile banners with classic depictions of traditional Japanese art fill the room with life and color. You catch a glimpse of the red torii on the second floor and every which way you look there is something to engage you.
The shop is in a Kura, which is Japanese for "storehouse". The kura was transformed into a shop that sells Japanese souvenirs including condiments, textiles, sake, power stones, shrine goods and art. The latter of which is also displayed in the store. The stairs are lined with both wooden and festival lanterns and a giant decorative rock. Upstairs where the sake, power stones and shrine goods are sold, there are several red torii joined by a stunning red roof. A tree and mini shrine add to the ambiance. As if that wasn't enough, the foot spa cafe in a zen garden at the back of the store, decorated with vibrant Japanese parasols, draws crowds.
The store is made up of three different shops:
- Wamono Ya Kaya sells several different types of Japanese souvenirs, made from traditional Japanese textiles and wood. The large hanging banners are their work and they also sell things like wooden dolls, tabi (foot socks), clothes, purses, straps and smart phone covers to name a few.
- Tsubaki Ya Shoten by Kura-ginger sells regional Japanese food stuff such as the sake, sauces and snacks.
- Iwakura sells precious stones and jewelry.
The cafe sits only eight to ten customers at once. As such, it is quite common to have to wait to be seated. But it is worth the wait. You can indulge in a coffee or beer with a traditional Japanese dessert as you bathe your feet and enjoy the view. Prices start from 1,200 yen for the pleasure!
Tsubakiya is on the main tourist strip "Ichibangai" in the ware / storehouse district of Koedo Kawagoe.
By car: there is no official car park for Tsubakiya. There are several coin parking lots in the area. The closest is the large coin parking by the landmark Risona bank, but it is also the most expensive.
By public transport: any of the tourist buses stop near the shop. You can alight at either Ichibangai or Nakamachi bus stops. On foot it is about a ten minute walk from Seibu Hon-Kawagoe station or about fifteen minutes from Tobu Tojo and JR Kawagoe Station.
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I've been in Japan for 18 years and yet everyday is still an adventure. For the last 11 years I have been living in and blogging about Saitama Prefecture (on my personal blog insaitama.com), occasionally appearing on TV to promote the attractions of my adopted home in rural Saitama. Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experience some off-the-international-tourist-trail locations and meet with locals and national tourists. And of course Saitama is home to venues for both the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I hope to introduce a taste of what there is to do and see in my articles on Japan Travel and help you with your Saitama travel planning.