Recently, tourists in Japan have been flocking to Kappabashi-dori, also known as Kitchen Town, before returning to their home countries. They come to the small shopping area located between Ueno and Asakusa, Tokyo in search of a hot souvenir item not entirely unique to Japan.

For the past two to three years, Kama Asa Shoten, an over 100-year-old shop “bringing together professional cooks and the right utensils,” has seen the number of foreign customers increase. The shop, located in Kappabashi-dori, specializes in crafting specialty cooking knives and it is this luxury item that has foreigners in Japan shelling out several hundred dollars for a single souvenir.

▼  Kappabashi-dori, a.k.a. Kitchen TownKappabashi Dori

About 25 percent of Kama Asa Shoten’s customers are from outside of Japan. The shop sees so many foreign visitors on a daily basis, they even provide information on each of their knives in English and have an English version of their official webpage. Although kitchen knives can be purchased in any country, the ones from Japan are prized for their high quality and durability and the knives from Kama Asa are no exception, made with knowledge that has been passed down for four generations. According to the Kama Asa philosophy, “Good tools are shaped to make food better” and “as a tribute to every independent craftsperson, the knives at Kama Asa are shown and supplied in their completed, unadorned form – un-branded.”

▼  The “un-branded” knives of Kama Asa ShotenScreen Shot 2013-09-18 at 5.47.33 AM

The shop will even engrave your blade, making Kama Asa knives a very useful and personal gift. No wonder so many foreigners have been purchasing them for friends who weren’t lucky enough to make it to Japan.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 6.11.47 AM

Another souvenir that has recently become popular, especially among wealthy Chinese tourists, is the Nambu iron kettle. Each kettle is handmade and it is said that because each one is made of iron, the boiled water becomes “smooth and mellow,” making a very delicious cup of tea. The kettle also adds trace amounts of iron that can be easily absorbed by the body.

▼  Nambu iron kettle, Tetsu-bin in JapaneseScreen Shot 2013-09-18 at 7.20.03 AM

Although Kama Asa isn’t the only shop in Kappabashi-dori that specializes in selling Japanese knives or Nambu iron kettles, the quality and care they take to create each piece is very impressive. If you’re going to take a trip to Japan, why not stop by this little 105-year-old shop and pick up one of these trending souvenirs.

Kama Asa Shoten
2-24-1 Matsugaya, Taito-ku
Tokyo 111-0036

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Source: dot
Image: Kama AsaJapan Guide