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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- Address 1-2-5, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
3. Boxers With Style That’ll Make You Smile — Trunks-ya
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.
- Address 1-19-10, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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.
Gyokuro, sencha, matcha, houjicha, mecha, kukicha, and powdered teas are just a fraction of the Japanese teas available at Masuda Ensou Honten.
- 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.
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.
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!
- Address 1-10-3, Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0033, Japan
Hours of Operation: 10：00 a.m. to 5：00 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
- Address 2-18-15, Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0034, Japan
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
- Address 1-32-12 , Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032, Japan
Hours of Operation: 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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.
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.
Top image credit: Sanga Park / Shutterstock.com
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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