Top 15 Kappabashi souvenirs

What to bring back from Tokyo's fun ‘Kitchen Town’

By Masako Matsuzaki

Asakusa's Kappabashi, better known to English-speakers as 'Kitchen Town', is heaven for cooking enthusiasts, professional chefs, and tourists shopping for interesting gifts to bring back from Tokyo. The hundreds of shops here cater primarily to restaurateurs, as is evident from the unbelievably diverse selection of pots, pans, cutlery, decorative items and so on. Prices are also comparatively low, so the area is well worth a visit every time you need kitchen-related tools and equipment. For the casual traveller, however, it may not be very practical to choose cast-iron frying pans or sword-like kitchen knives as souvenirs, so we've put together this list of 15 fun and easy-to-carry items that also make perfect gifts for your folks back home.

For more souvenir ideas, see our guides to essential Tokyo souvenirs and the best Tokyo souvenirs.

15 fun Kitchen Town picks

Bird-shaped branding iron

Shop: Majimaya Kashidouguten 
Decorate your pancakes with this cool branding iron that comes in a variety of different shapes – how about a bird or a pine tree? Order-made designs are also available, although you'll have to wait for three to four weeks for delivery. ¥2,850.

Asakusa

Japanese prefectures cookie cutter set

Shop: Asai Shoten 
Combine geography studies and cookie baking with this set, which contains forms for all of Japan's 47 prefectures. Make an entire batch and try putting it together to form a complete map of Japan! ¥2,047.

Asakusa
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Cat series nerikiri mold

Shop: Majimaya Kashidouguten 
This three-piece set makes baking nerikiri, the beautifully shaped wagashi sweets that are often filled with red bean paste, fun and easy. Successfully forming a cute, cat-shaped nerikiri is a sure way to impress friends. ¥1,785.

Asakusa

Shinkansen lunch plate

Shop: Niimi 
Can't find a useful souvenir for the kids? Try this train-shaped plate that's fun to play with, prevents spilling and is easy to clean. If the shinkansen doesn't feel too appealing, choices like steam engines and airplanes are also available. ¥3,300.

Asakusa
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Takoyaki pan

Shop: Miki Shoten 
If heavy-duty gifts are what you're after, this nanbu-tekki ironware pan is the perfect choice. Making pro-grade takoyaki will be surprisingly easy, and cooking perfectly round meatballs should also be possible. ¥3,300.

Asakusa

Crane-shaped copper grater

Shop: Kama Asa Shoten 
Grating carrots has never been easier, or more stylish for that matter – this crane-inspired oroshigane (grater) is light, efficient and comfortable to use. If you prefer turtles to cranes, there's a version to suit you too. ¥1,420.

Asakusa
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Sushi keyrings

Shop: Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya 
Hang your keys on some delicious-looking shrimp or ikura (salmon roe) sushi. Asakusa's famed food sample makers Ganso Shokuhin put a lot of effort into creating realistic but plastic food, and this popular item is one of their best. ¥630.

Asakusa

Wrapping paper

Shop: Propack Kappabashi 
The wrapping paper selection on the fifth floor of this huge shop is something to marvel at. The amount of choices is impressive in itself, but the true attraction is the price level: some packs of 200 papers go for as low as ¥315.

Asakusa
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Arita-yaki rice bowl set

Shop: Dengama 
Dengama deals in some of the finest Japanese tableware, and most items are sold at around 20% off the retail price. This two-piece rice bowl set is made of Arita porcelain (also known as Imari), and is sure to beautify your dining table. ¥1,180.

Asakusa

Lacquered chopsticks

Shop: Mikura 
Chopsticks are a common souvenir, but these wooden, exquisitely lacquered babies will give off a far better impression than any old standard set of sticks. The curved surface makes holding these chopsticks a breeze, even for first-timers. ¥840.

Asakusa
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Chopstick rest

Shop: Kappabashi Maeda 
The simple chopstick rest isn't exactly what you'd call an exciting item, at least not before discovering the huge variety of shapes, styles and colours available at this shop. How about a sausage- or Mount Fuji-shaped specimen? ¥520.

Asakusa

Japanese tea cup

Shop: Utsuwa no Tousho 
Regularly found at sushi restaurants, these tea cups are usually decorated with Chinese characters for various kinds of fish. The selection here, however, is far broader: why not pick up a cup adorned with the faces of the Tokugawa shoguns? ¥380–¥550.

Iriya
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'Ice cream' flag

Shop: Niimi Soushoku 
Want to start up your very own ice cream stand? You'll need this nobori flag to attract customers and mark your territory. More ambitious restaurateurs can opt for the oden flags or ramen chochin lanterns. ¥700.

Asakusa

'Yakitori' lantern

Shop: Ginzaya 
Ginzaya's chochin lanterns come in several shapes and sizes – the most popular ones are the medium-sized 'sushi', 'izakaya' and 'yakitori' lanterns. Try hanging one of these outside your door on a party night. ¥1,575.

Asakusa
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A kitchen knife for life

Shop: Kama Asa Shoten 
If you're looking for a professional-grade kitchen knife, Kama Asa Shoten is your stop. More than 80 kinds of blades are available here, and the staff will even engrave your knife for you. Just remember not to store it in the carry-on.

Asakusa

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