Kameido Matsumoto1/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Tachibanaya2/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Tachibanaya3/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Ishii Shibamata4/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Taishakuten5/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Best street food and snacks at Shibamata

Wander down a historical pilgrim route in Tokyo and sample local treats as you go: mochi, dango, tamagoyaki and more

By Jessica Thompson
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Shibamata in Tokyo’s northeastern Katsushika ward is one of the few remaining examples of the shitamachi, Tokyo’s old working class neighbourhoods. With its small traditional shops and nearly 400-year-old temple, here you can get a glimpse of the Tokyo of yesteryear – and an authentic taste of its food, too.

Leading from Shibamata Station all the way to the Taishakuten temple is the Taishakuten-Sando, an old-fashioned street with back-to-back shops – some dating back centuries – selling traditional souvenirs and trinkets, as well as snacks. Note that most stores wrap up by around 3pm, and the popularity of the area means that some stores sell out much earlier, so it’s best to arrive mid-morning at the latest. After walking the street, be sure to take some time to enjoy the other cultural attractions of the area, too.

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Kameido Matsumoto
Kameido Matsumoto
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Kameido Matsumoto Suzushiroan

Restaurants Shibamata

Tamagoyaki

Masumoto Kameido is a popular local restaurant, but it serves street food, too. Look out for the bunch of fresh Kameido daikon, a speciality of the region dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868), running under a stream of cool water. Right beside it is a stand with Masumoto’s street food offering: agemochi (deep-fried mochi basted in soy sauce and wrapped in nori) and sticks of steaming Japanese-style omelette. The latter, called tamagoyaki, comes in two flavours, regular and aonori (powdered seaweed), and we recommend trying them both.

Toraya Shibamata
Toraya Shibamata
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Monzen Toraya

Restaurants Shibamata

Kusa dango

Back in the Edo period (1603-1868), kusa dango (rice flour dumplings) were a Shibamata speciality popular with pilgrims visiting the nearby Taishakuten temple. There are a lot of kusa dango vendors along Taishakuten Sando, but Toraya is our pick. The shop is over 100 years old and the dango are still made fresh daily. Topped with a house-made bean paste, the dumplings are springy and light and come in skewers of four for ¥150.

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Kameya Honpo
Kameya Honpo
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Kameya Honpo

Restaurants Shibamata

Seasonal and seaweed dango

The friendly staff here will guide you through the standard dango (rice flour dumplings) varieties as well as some more offbeat ones. For a savoury bite, try the age (deep-fried) dango or nori dango, which are best washed down with a cold beer. On the sweeter side, there’s a colourful selection of dango topped with seasonally flavoured shiro-an (white bean paste), such as yuzu in winter, cherry blossom and ryokucha (green tea) in spring, and chestnut in autumn.

Takagiya Honten
Takagiya Honten
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Takagiya

Restaurants Kasai

Kusa mochi

Kusa-flavoured sweets are a speciality of the Katsushika area and they are made from local yomogi (Japanese mugwort), which is a popular ingredient in sweets for its distinctly grassy flavour and speckled green appearance. Takagiya started out over 100 years ago and sells a selection of sweets including kusa mochi (¥170) – mugwort-flavoured mochi rice cakes shaped like an English muffin and filled with red bean paste. The confection is lightly toasted, giving it a combination of chewy and crisp textures.

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Ishii Shibamata
Ishii Shibamata
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Ishii

Restaurants Shibamata

Butter-grilled sweet potato yokan

Yokan are traditional Japanese sweets made from sweetened bean or vegetable paste. To prepare the unique butter-grilled sweet potato yokan (butter-yaki imo-yokan; ¥200 each) at Ishii, Japanese sweet potato is mashed with a little salt, then shaped into blocks and fried on a teppan grill in sizzling butter. They’re served hot, fresh off the grill, which is the best way to enjoy them. Let the alluring smell of caramelised butter guide you to the shop.

Tachibanaya
Tachibanaya
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Tachibanaya

Restaurants Shibamata

Senbei

While you can find senbei (rice crackers) anywhere in Japan, getting handmade ones straight from the grill is something special. This 100-year-old shop offers sesame, aonori (powdered seaweed) and soy sauce-flavoured senbei. Although the range has grown to include miso, karashi pepper, granule sugar and sakura ebi (tiny dried prawns), the three original flavours are hard to beat. The crackers range from ¥70 to ¥130 apiece.

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Ojigi Chaya
Ojigi Chaya
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Ojigi Chaya

Restaurants Shibamata

Motsuni and croquettes

Located right at the entrance to Taishakuten-Sando, Ojigi Chaya’s most popular dish is motsuni (¥500) – a steaming bowl of pork innards and vegetables in a light but umami broth, perfect for pairing with one of the shop’s beers. We also love the gyu-suji (beef tendon) croquette (¥150): potato and beef coated in breadcrumbs and fried until crisp, and its meat-free equivalent, the satsumaimo (sweet potato) croquette.

To burn off those calories...

Taishakuten
Taishakuten
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

When you’ve had your fill of street eats, check out Taishakuten, an expansive Buddhist temple dating back almost 400 years. There’s also Yamamoto Tei, a teahouse in a grand old mansion with stunning traditional architecture and gardens. You should also try an old-fashioned ferry ride on the last remaining traditional Edo-era boat; the journey will take you across the Edogawa River on a famous passage called the yagiri-no-watashi.

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