HOME Asakusa See Another Side of Asakusa! Discover Unique Gifts at These 9 Hidden Shops
See Another Side of Asakusa! Discover Unique Gifts at These 9 Hidden Shops

See Another Side of Asakusa! Discover Unique Gifts at These 9 Hidden Shops

Update: 6 April 2018

Asakusa is one the best spots in Tokyo to experience “old school” Japan. Nakamise Street, the path connecting Kaminarimon Gate to Sensoji-temple, is always flooded with visitors. When the crowds are too much to handle, it's time to hit the back streets. Here's a selection of 9 shops stocked with items made in Japan that are just waiting to be discovered by you!

1. More Than 300 Patterns Of Tenugui — Asakusa Kururi

1. More Than 300 Patterns Of Tenugui — Asakusa Kururi

Take a right on Denbuin Street as you walk from Nakamise Street, and you’ll see Asakusa Kururi, a shop specializing in tenugui (a thin multipurpose towel) and furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping cloth).
Judging by the exterior, you might find it hard to believe, but Asakusa Kururi stocks more than 300 patterns of tenugui and more than 200 varieties of furoshiki. On top of that, there’s handkerchiefs, coin purses, and other Japan-inspired novelty items. You'll have a hard time choosing between a tenugui with a Japanese print or one featuring your favorite animated character. Asakusa Kururi’s furoshiki come in an assortment of sizes and styles, so you’re sure to find the right one for you.

Tenugui (from 864 yen)

Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, kabuki motifs, and Shiba-inu dogs are just a fraction of the eye-catching tenugui available. If you want to know how to use tenugui and how to take care of it, do not hesitate to ask the staff.

Check out these kawaii Japan-themed coinpurses (from 756 yen)
Furoshiki (70-118 cm/ from 1,188 yen); Bamboo ring (756 yen. Free acrylic rings available.)

The furoshiki bag is a very popular item (pictured is the “ichigo” bag). Marvel at Japanese ingenuity — see how the cloth is folded so that the pattern appears on the outside.

  • Tenuguiya asakusa kururi
    手ぬぐい屋 浅草くるり
    • Address 2-2-2 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

    Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. to 18:30 p.m.
    Holidays: None

2. 150 Years of Washi Paper and Washi Products — Kuroda-ya Honten

2. 150 Years of Washi Paper and Washi Products — Kuroda-ya Honten

Right next to Kaminarimon, the symbol of Asakusa, is Kuroda-ya Honten and its stained wooden plaques that reveal more than 150 years of history. Specializing in washi (traditional Japanese paper), Kuroda-ya Honten’s selection is sourced from all over Japan, and are akin to traditional handicrafts. It certainly is fascinating browsing through the selection of textured solid color washi and ones with colorful designs.

Kuroda-ya Honten also sells woodblock carvings, papier-mâché sculptures, windchimes and traditional writing instruments. However, its selection of washi is where you can truly appreciate Japanese aesthetics.

Top: Washi Paper (from 735 yen), Down-left: Goshuin-cho (2,376 yen), Down-right cut washi (from 108 yen), Original letter (432 yen), Scented insert for letters (1080 yen)

The shop is stocked wall-to-wall with washi created by artisans from across Japan. There's more than 100 different patterns of cherry blossom washi alone! Use cut washi to make placemats, bookmarks, or anything that your heart desires. You’ll also find stationery sets, postcards, and more made from washi.

A goshuin-cho, a special notebook for collecting stamps when you visit Japanese temples and shrines (down-left). These splendid goshuin-cho are Kurodoya’s original designs, and the cover is made from washi. (2,376 yen)

  • Kuroda-ya Honten
    黒田屋本店
    • Address 1-2-5, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Holidays: Monday

3. Boxers With Style That’ll Make You Smile — Trunks-ya

3. Boxers With Style That’ll Make You Smile — Trunks-ya
Sizes: Medium and Large(1,404 yen); Extra Large (1,512 yen); XXXL(1,944 yen); XXXXL (2,052 yen) . Boxer briefs: Sizes: Medium and Large(1,944 yen); Extra Large(2,160 yen)

Right in the middle of Asakusa Kannon Street is a storefront decorated with gachapon machines. Head up the stairwell covered in peculiar Japanese slogans for Trunks-ya, a retailer of men’s boxers with a distinctly Japanese flair.

There is an auspicious meaning to each traditional design, featuring dragons, koi (carp) fish, lions, dragonflies and more.
To help you choose, read the explanations provided. By simply putting on a pair of underwear you can be the master of your own fate.

Karate athletes and other martial artists are said to be huge fans of the boxers sold at Trunks-ya.

The store is also a place where women can browse and shop at ease for gifts. These long boxers adorned with dogs (image above) are made from two-ply gauze cloth and are popular among women as an alternative to loungewear. Japan-themed socks (3 pairs for 1,080 yen)

All boxers are made in Japan from durable, long-lasting materials and are available in sizes up to XXXXL. Protect yourself from natural disasters with these “God of Wind and God of Thunder” boxers.

  • Trunks-ya
    とらんくすや。
    • Address 1-19-10, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

4. Treat Yourself To 150 Years Of Tea History — Masuda Ensou Honten

4. Treat Yourself To 150 Years Of Tea History — Masuda Ensou Honten

Right across the street from Matsuya Department Store is Masuda Ensou Honten, a shop specializing in Japanese tea. Its matcha soft serve ice cream is a huge crowd-pleaser, but don’t miss out on its sencha and hojicha that you can drink on-site (from 100 yen per serving). During the summer months, cool down with refreshing green tea.

Masuda Ensou Honten stocks tea ceremony goods, tea cups, teapots and well-known brands of tea from Shizuoka, Uji, Sayamashi, Kagoshima and other parts of Japan. Staff will provide you with a free booklet written in 12 different languages on Japanese tea and how to enjoy it.

A selection of eye-catching packages containing tea bags (left, 270 yen each); Gyokuro, sencha that is prepared just like drip coffee (right, 540 yen each)
A selection of matcha, a superfood that has taken the world by storm (30 grams, from 648 yen). Right: Halal certified Japanese tea (sencha - 1,080 yen; genmaicha - 756 yen; houjicha - 756 yen). The matcha soft serve ice cream is also Halal!

Gyokuro, sencha, matcha, houjicha, mecha, kukicha, and powdered teas are just a fraction of the Japanese teas available at Masuda Ensou Honten.

  • Masuda-en Souhonten
    増田園総本店
    • Address 1-1-17, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 8:15 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Tuesdays 8:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

5. A Cat Lover’s Paradise — Asakusa Mantenboshi

5. A Cat Lover’s Paradise — Asakusa Mantenboshi

Walk along Edo Street towards Sensoji Temple until you reach the underpass for the Tobu Isesaki Line. There you'll find Asakusa Mantenboshi and its wooden plaque adorned with a maneki neko, a cat believed to bring good fortune with each sweep of its paws. Maneki neko are said to have originated in Asakusa and there are plenty at Asakusa Mantenboshi, along with other items traditionally considered lucky in Japan.

Left: Written on the arms of these maneki neko are specific wishes - an increase in customers, more profits, and more (from 500 yen). Right: Some of the cat related goods on display: cat mask (2,200 yen).

Maneki neko bring prosperity to businesses, but you can also increase your good fortune with some of the other items on display. There are owls, rabbits, frogs, the seven deities of good fortune and the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. After all, who doesn’t want good fortune? Pick up a few lucky items for yourself and feel the good vibes.

Each maneki neko has a different expression so be sure to take a good look at them. Each cat also has a different paw raised, so satisfy your curiosity and ask a sales associate about its meaning!

  • Asakusa Mantenbosi
    浅草満天星
    • Address 1-10-3, Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0033, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

6. Blades Crafted With Care — Kikusue Hamono

6. Blades Crafted With Care — Kikusue Hamono

Sitting on the corner of Kaminari Street and Orange Street is Kikusue Hamono, a century-old shop that stocks bladed objects coveted all over the world.

If you’re looking for high-quality knives made in Japan, you’ve come to the right place. Kikusue Hamono sells beautifully decorated Damascus blade knives, original-branded nail clippers, pocket knives and more. The Japanese blades here are a combination of aesthetics and functionality. Don’t hesitate to pick up something that catches your eye.

The sharpness of these nail clippers is unbeatable! Nail clippers by Kikusue (Large - 1,200 yen; Small - 980 yen)
The patterned blade of this pocket knife is a work of art (from 23,000 yen)

This is a place where even professional cooks and chefs come to buy equipment, so there’s a superb selection of knives here. Definitely pick up a few and try them for yourself.

  • Kikusui Hamono (Asakusa)
    菊季刃物 浅草店
    • Address 1-5-1, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

7. For A Scent-sational Experience — Nenjudo

7. For A Scent-sational Experience — Nenjudo

Easily accessible from Asakusa Station Exit 4 on the Toei Asakusa Line and Exit 2 of the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line is Nenjudo, specializing in a variety goods essential to the religions of Buddhism and Shinto, such incense, prayer beads and bracelets, and things you’ll need for the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Here, the purifying scent of incense filled the air, as if you’ve entered a sacred place. With more than 500 varieties of incense in stock, you’re bound to find one just for you. Wafting in distinct aroma of Japanese incense that fills your heart is a world waiting to be explored by you.

Asakusa no kaori (the scent of Asakusa), Nenjudo’s own original incense (Approximately 140 sticks for 1,404 yen); Jinkou (Agarwood) (Approximately 170 sticks for 4,320 yen); Taikan (Approximately 150 sticks for 11,880 yen). Nenjudo also stocks incense that is suitable for koudou, the traditional incense-smelling ceremony.
Nenjudo also stocks Buddhist statues and other holy relics. For 20,000 yen, you can buy a statue for the Buddhist patron of your Japanese zodiac animal.
  • Nenjudo
    念珠堂
    • Address 2-18-15, Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0034, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

8. Kumihimo Handcrafted With Care Since 1876 — Kiryudo

8. Kumihimo Handcrafted With Care Since 1876 — Kiryudo

Kiryudo is located on a side street right off Nakamise Street. Since 1876, it has made a name for itself through kumihimo, braided cords of cotton or silk threads that are an indispensable feature of Japanese clothing and items found on the Buddhist altar. Kumihimo is beautifully woven in such a way that is an artform in and of itself. You can find woven goods from all over Japan as well.

These vibrant pure silk kumihimo bracelets were once obishime, decorative string used to hold a kimono sash in place. (2,700 yen)

Kumihimo bracelets have become popular thanks to the hit animated film “Your Name.” They can be made on-site to fit you, so don’t hesitate to order one for yourself. Many customers also use silk obi age, or an obi sash, as scarves.

Kokeshi, a traditional wooden toy
Souvenirs that don’t take up much space: Goldfish and Pufferfish paper balloons (from 378 yen); Bookmark made from bamboo (324 yen).

Kiryudo also sells dolls made from antique fabrics, hanging ornaments known as tsurukazari, kokeshi dolls, bags and more, all with a distinctive handmade feel to them. You will surely be touched by the beauty and care put into each item on display.

  • Kiryudo
    桐生堂
    • Address 1-32-12 , Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    Holidays: None

9. Where Festival Participants Get Their Swag — Asakusa Naka-ya

9. Where Festival Participants Get Their Swag — Asakusa Naka-ya

Right in front of Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine is Asakusa Naka-ya, easily distinguished by the words, “Festival Shop” on its storefront. The Sanja Festival, held every year in May and one of the three great Shinto festivals in Tokyo, is held at Asakusa Shrine. You’ll find many of the clothes worn by participants in the Sanja Festival here at Asakusa Naka-ya.

Air Jog Max 6 Layer (Indigo/Plain/5,164 yen) 6 layer (Kohase type)

Asakusa Naka-ya sells its own brand of clothing alongside traditional attire worn at festivals in Japan. It’s a treasure trove of Asakusa souvenirs, and you’ll find plenty of unique items for your wardrobe like hanten (traditional short coats), obi (kimono sashes), tenugui, koiguchi shirts, pouches, and coin purses with Japanese print. And those toed shoes (jika tabi) and costume worn by the young men who pull rickshaws? Get those too at Asakusa Naka-ya!

Both the front and back of the shoe are cushioned with airbag-like pads that are a feature of the latest release of tabi boots. Try on an older model to feel the difference in comfort.

How cool is this hanten with a quilted dragon on the back of it? (18,360 yen). Tenuguma are adorable teddy bears made from tenugui (from 2,700 yen).

  • Asakusa Naka-ya Honten
    浅草中屋 本店
    • Address 2-2-12, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan

    Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    Holidays: None

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

Share this article.