Did you see something delicious displayed in a restaurant window during your visit to Japan? If so, chances are that it was made in Kappabashi-dori. Kappabashi-dori is a popular offbeat tourist spot that draws in many visitors for its unique atmosphere and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Upon visiting the area, I was pleasantly surprised to find the street lined with little shops dedicated to selling pottery, tableware, chairs, cookware, and everything needed to run a restaurant. In fact, over 80,000 stores in Japan and around the world fill their display windows with synthetic food purchased from this curious little shopping district.
From ice cream and pizza to beer mugs filled with foam, Kappabashi-dori's skilled artists tire endlessly to produce the most visually tantalizing synthetic food designed to lure you in from the streets. And, for a small fee, you can even buy some of these plastic facsimiles to bring home as a souvenir, I know I did.
Kappabashi-dori is a street in Tokyo that found its humble beginnings as a small shopping district in 1912. A century later, Kappabashi-dori is the world's leading supplier of plastic food, display cases and Japanese restaurant supplies. What I found to be amazing about the area is that it is next to impossible to get lost. Kappabashi-dori shops will frequently feature the image of the popular mythical creature, the Kappa, which the shops have fondly adopted as their mascot. This area supposedly received its name from the mythical water imps otherwise known as kappa. As I learned, these creatures supposedly helped build a bridge joining this area to the rest of Tokyo. As I came to learn, it was a merchant named Kappaya Kihachi who helped fund the building of a bridge over the Shinhorikawa River embankment into the area over 200 years ago. What I found to be amazing was that his act of generosity helped join this small, isolated area with the rest of Tokyo, which helped the budding community develop into the biggest shopping area for kitchen supplies in Japan.
Today, Kappabashi-dori or Kitchen Town, is a street located between the historic Asakusa district and the Ueno neighborhood. I discovered that the easiest way to reach Kappabashi-dori was by walking from the nearby Tawaramachi Station. The fastest way to reach the Tawaramachi Station is to ride the train on the Subway Ginza Line. When visiting Kappabashi-dori, it is always important to remember allot yourself at least an hour to visit all the shops and boutiques. But, remember that the shops close around 5PM daily, and they will remain closed on Sunday and holidays.