Daimaru Ishoten in Asakusa

Exemplifying the personal touch

Featured    - 3 min read

Daimaru Ishoten, specializing in traditional Japanese clothing and souvenirs, is easy to find on Asakusa's Denbouin-dori, the gold-colored shopping street bisecting the long, straight stretch of stalls connecting Asakusa's two chief draws: Kaminarimon gate and Sensoji temple. If you stand at the intersection under the 伝法院通り ("Denboin-dori") sign, with Sensoji on your right, you'll pass Omori-san's store less than a 30-second walk up the bustling pedestrian thoroughfare. Omori-san's younger brother actually runs a branch of the shop right on the corner in the shadow of the sign, and their mother has a third outlet in the vicinity, a little closer to Kaminarimon.

Asakusa is unquestionably one of the most popular stops on both the domestic and foreign tourist's Tokyo itinerary. In addition to photogenic main draw Sensoji, the atmosphere of this shitamachi ("old town") area is exemplified by the many family-run small businesses of the neighborhood, and Daimaru Ishoten is among the most inviting of these.

Perhaps the best reason to patronize Daimaru Ishoten, aside from the nice selection of quality items available, is the interaction that comes with the shopping. Visiting the shop is like visiting someone's home. Indeed, the Omori family is as much a part of the Asakusa area as Sensoji, and the resulting personal attention and care you receive is unlike anything found in the chain stores and malls of Tokyo's more commercial Shinjuku and Ginza areas. Each item on display in Omori-san's shop has a story, and he loves to share the history of both his wares and the local community.

You might be treated to anecdotes like the one about three British tourists resorting to a game of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would get the two remaining Hokusai-print handkerchiefs. The unfortunate gentleman who lost the game returned a few days later by himself when Omori-san replenished his stock. Not a bad excuse to spend another day exploring Asakusa.

You, too, may want to take home a Hokusai print to commemorate your trip to Japan, or perhaps one of the many clothing and fabric items. Omori-san will help you find what you are looking for, and can give you a story to take home with it.

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