30 December, 2008

Kappa-bashi kitchen town / Taito ward

Between the famous sight seeing places, Ueno and Asakusa, there is a unique town which has been attracting people who are interested in cooking. Kappa-bashi; the mecca of cooks and owners of all kind of restaurant.
If you want to open your own restaurant, I recommend you to visit this town. And also you can enjoy your shopping there as a non-professional visitor.

There are many cutlery shops, utensil shops….

Interior and Exterior shops…

Here is a food sample shop. These samples are made by wax and plastic. These were very exquisite and,,, looked yummy!

Don’t forget stools, chairs and tables for opening your restaurant.

What kind of uniform do you need?

You can buy a cash register here.

This shop attracted me very much.

Look! You can roast coffee beans by yourself on a gas range.

You want to open a chinese restaurant?

And otherwise, there are many shops for soba restaurant, confectioners, etc, etc...

The closest station of Kappa-bashi is Inaricho or Tawaramachi of Tokyo metro Ginza line.
You can find the landmark buildings, the first photo of this posting and the photo below, from Asakusa-dori street. This is a gate for Kappa-bashi area.

You'd better visit on weekdays or Saturday. On Sunday, most of shops are closed.

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22 December, 2008

Hagoita-Ichi (Hagoita Fair) / Senso-ji temple, Asakusa

Hagoita is, originally, a paddle of the traditional racket game, Hanetsuki, which is played by kids during the New Year’s holiday. It also has been made and displayed as a charm against evil. Ancient people believed that Hagoita would hit bad lucks away. It has become one of the craft arts of Tokyo.
Every December, Hagoita craftsmen gather at Asakusa Senso-ji temple for the Hagoita-Ichi (Hagoita Fair). This fair has been held there since Edo era and it has become one of the signature winter event in Tokyo.

Hagoita-Ichi poster displayed at JR Ueno station.

Last Thursday night, I dropped over at Asakusa on the way back home, and took Asakusa night scene and some Hagoita pictures. (All of pictures can be enlarged by clicking them.)

It was already over 20 o’clock, so most of the shops on the approach pavement to the Senso-ji were about closed.

I often had been there in the daytime, but it was a first time to visit at night.

Most of the Hagoita were featuring the Kabuki-actors.

Apparently the range of prices of normal sizes were around 20,000 - 50,000 yen. Bigger hagoita were over 300,000yen,,, zee, who could buy them?

Some of craftsmen feature celebrities or athletes who were active this year.

The boy with red cap in the above picture is Ryo Ishikawa, Japanese professional golf rookie, who won a golf tournament when he was just 15 (he was recorded in the Guinness book as the youngest winner of the regular golf tournament) and became a professional golfer this year.

Hello Kitty”?

The dates of the fair are 17th to 19th December, every year. Please note on your next year’s calender.

The closest station is Asakusa (Tokyo Metro Ginza-line, Tobu Isesaki-line and Toei Asakusa-line).

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10 December, 2008

Foxes in the Oji Inari shrine / Oji, Kita ward

Please allow me to post the photos taken in this September.

Near the Asukayama park (posted in 06/Sep/08), there is an old and famous shrine called Oji Inari. One morning, Lee and I went there to see the location of the famous Rakugo story "Oji no Kitsune (the fox in Oji)".

Foxes had long been described as mischievous creatures in old fairy tales. In the Rakugo "Oji no Kitsune", the trick matches between the fox who lived in the shrine and the man who visited the shrine was described comically.

There were many statues of foxes. Foxes are guardians of Inari shrine, and also messengers of Inari god.
Ohji Inari is recognized as the top of the Inari shrines in Kanto area.

I found a fox statue having a key.

It's my guess that means this fox (or this shrine) plays a key role in the "Inari industry".

When we were about walking into the backyard of shrine to see the "fox cave", I saw a man appeared at a window of the shrine office.

The man, who seemed to be a shrine priest, gave us a sign of "not permitted" gently as waving his hand slowly. I looked down at Lee and talked to myself "yeah, the combination of fox and dog was not so good, especially from the point of view of fox". I raised my eyes and nodded to the man,,,,, but he had disappeared already.
I am not sure if he had a foxtail.

According to the legend, huge numbers of foxes who serving at Inari shrine all over the Kanto area gather to join the annual meeting held in the shrine yard on new year's eve.

Above is the Ukiyoe drawed by the famous painter Andoh Hirosige. Foxes who intend to join the annual meeting are gathering in front of a big Enoki tree to fix their clothes (fur coat & muffler?) before entering the Oji Inari.
My friend Kaz infiltrated into the fox anual meeting and wrote about it on his weblog several years ago. I was shocked by his scoop photos. Vast numbers of foxes were parading the street. Please check it! (Kaz's weblog)

The closest station of Oji Inari shrine is Oji (JR) .
If you want to join the fox parade in New Year's eve, please visit the official HP (Japanese only).

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