Kuramae area guide | Time Out Tokyo

Kuramae area guide

The traditional centre of craftsmanship is undergoing a revival – follow us on a stylish stroll along the Sumida River

By Jun Harada

Hidden away right in between tourist-infested Asakusa and the much grittier Asakusabashi, Kuramae gets its name from the all-important rice granaries that lined the streets here during the Edo era. As rice was literally money back in the days of the shogunate, the neighbourhood attracted plenty of wealthy merchants and other successful Edoites, many of whom took up residence in the area. Later on, Kuramae morphed into something of a centre for craftspeople – an aspect that's still very much present, especially with the recent increase in young designers and other creatives calling the area home.

Affordable rents and active support from the Taito ward authorities have backed up this influx of up-and-coming talent, making Kuramae a hotbed of hip 'made in Tokyo' shops, trendy eateries and hipster coffee shops. Co-existing with and feeding off the many venerable handicraft businesses already in the area, the newcomers are breathing fresh life into this comfy riverside 'hood. Follow us on a tour of Kuramae's hottest shops, restaurants and sights, and check out more area guides on our Neighborhoods page.

Find the smartest handmade wares

Mokuba Showroom

Shopping Art, craft and hobbies Asakusa

Having cultivated relationships with boutique brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to Lanvin and Dolce & Gabbana, ribbon manufacturer Mokuba is one of Japan's lesser known world-class companies. This Kuramae showroom exhibits their beautiful wares, all of which are available for purchase by the metre...


Shopping Asakusa

You might find yourself falling in love with the art of writing again after a visit to this specialist stationery shop. Kakimori’s range of pens, inks and letter sets are chosen on the basis of how comfortable they are to use, and customers are welcome to try out the fountain pens in store...

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Photo by Jun Harada


Shopping Lifestyle Asakusa

Both as a studio and a retail store, this leather shop stands out from the rest. Leather artisan Yuichiro Murakami, who used to be an architect, really puts his heart – and the traditional techniques he learned in Italy – into the products. Oozing simplicity and functionality, his pieces also make for great gifts...


Shopping Home decor Asakusa

Much more than your average homewares shop, Koncent sits along Kuramae's Edo-dori and functions as the home base for H Concept, a company involved in design consulting for a wide range of Japanese manufacturing businesses. As is to be expected, the trendy store stands out in these surroundings...


Machida Itoten

Shopping Art, craft and hobbies Asakusa

Satisfying your every yarn-, twine- and other sewing-related need in Kuramae, this venerable retailer has been open for business since 1864. In more recent years, the shop has steadily expanded its selection, which now also includes tape, ribbons, wrapping paper and more...


Shopping Bags and luggage Asakusa

If you need a stylish leather bag that's also made to last, head straight for this factory store operated by the notable Ren brand. Simply crafted from quality materials, their unisex bags are all light and durable, but we're especially fond of the super-smooth pigskin varieties...



Shopping Asakusa

There seems to be a specialist store for everything in quiet Kuramae, and this one is exclusively focused on items made using the traditional kusakizome dyeing technique. You'll find a wide range of fabrics dyed with natural liquids extracted from flowers, leaves and roots...

Matsuki Shoten

Shopping Toys and games Asakusa

Planning your own little fireworks show? Found a stone's throw from the Sumida River, where the city's best-known summer hanabi festival has been held since 1733, Matsuki deals in colourful explosives of all shapes and sizes – from kid-friendly fire-sticks to beastly rockets...



Shopping Corner shops Asakusa

Colourful textile items, tableware and other fun decorative knickknacks line the shelves at this shop. It essentially just stocks a bunch of random paraphernalia, which is exactly why you're sure to find something new on every visit...

Kick back like a local


Hotels Asakusa

Run by the same group behind Iriya's Toco.Tokyo Heritage Hostel, this friendly hostel boasts some nifty interior design and a stylish ground-floor bar (complete with grand piano) that seems to be as popular with local residents as it is with guests...


Restaurants Cafés Asakusa

Sip some coffee and peruse handmade leather accessories at this relaxed café and variety goods store run by ballerina and pastry shop owner Miwako Yamada together with designer Kosuke Tamura. The staff are also happy to give sightseeing tips for the surrounding neighbourhood...


Sumida River Terrace

Things to do Tsukishima

Joggers love this riverside route that runs along both sides of the Sumida River from Ryogoku in the north to Kachidoki and Tsukiji in the south. The course attracts only light traffic and provides smooth surfaces, challenging staircases and captivating views...

Cielo y Rio

Restaurants Cafés Asakusa

Housed inside the Mirror building, right by the Sumida River, this restaurant spreads out over two storeys and offers pretty views of the calmly flowing water. The ground floor, with its open kitchen, dining area and loft, is sufficient for most occasions, while the third floor boasts a 100-seat hall that can be booked for private parties...


Misuji Bathhouse

Health and beauty Spas Asakusa

There are many ways to feel nostalgic about the past. In Tokyo, taking a bath at Misuji Bathhouse has been offering visitors a glimpse into yesteryear since 1951. With its antique kawara roof, the bathhouse preserves traditional architecture and interiors from the Showa period. The most remarkable feature is a luxurious garden...

Fill up in style

Sol's Coffee

Restaurants Coffeeshops Asakusa

Sitting pretty right by Kuramae Shrine, this small coffee stand pledges to offer 'coffee that treats your body well', – well, at least they hand-pick their own original beans and roast them twice. All that work results in a refreshing taste, best sampled in soft-flavoured latte form...

Daily's Muffin Tokyo

Shopping Bakeries Asakusabashi

Acquiring a 'muffin top' is a real possibility at Daily's – their goodies are that addictive. The counter at this cutesy joint is lined with real American-style creations, which range from sweet options (plum compote and smooth custard, coffee and white chocolate etc) to savoury types topped with mushrooms and sausages...


Kuramae Genraku Sohonten

Restaurants Asakusa

For refined ramen in Kuramae, there's no better place than the original branch of Genraku, specialists in tonkotsu concoctions. The shoyu soup, cooked for a full three days, combines a fatty pork taste with fresh vegetable aromas, which are best sampled in the joint's signature Gen Ramen...


Restaurants Japanese Asakusa

Living healthy in Kuramae has never been easier: this multi-tasking restaurant, deli and 'health salon' covers almost everything you need for a wholesome urban existence. Brown rice lunch sets are served at the eatery, while the shop stocks healthy edibles, spices, snacks and more from all over Japan...


Bistro Campagne

Restaurants Bistros Asakusa

Serving up rustic French cuisine in the neighbourhood of his birth for well over two decades now, the chef at Bistro Campagne is a local through and through. Still, that's not to say he isn't well travelled: the antique shades and old-school grape baskets decorating the restaurant are souvenirs from his many Gallic travels...


Shopping Pâtisseries Asakusa

Sitting along Kasuga-dori in between Kuramae and Okachimachi since 1887, Eikyudo is an old-school wagashi shop that stands out with its earthen floor and pretty wooden interior. Although traditional sweets like chestnut yokan (jelly), waka-ayu (fish-shaped cakes) and bean paste-filled daifuku are available, their most popular product is actually the 'Soft Butter'...

Finish up with a prayer

Kuramae Shrine

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Asakusa

Standing right in the heart of the neighbourhood, this shrine was first established in 1694, and assumed its current name in 1947. It's said to be the birthplace of kanjin sumo, i.e. wrestling tournaments held in order to raise donations for shrines and temples, and a memorial stele for the participants still stands on the shrine grounds...


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