Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Kappabashi Kitchen District
On a cold and blustery day in March, five explorer's set out from Yokosuka and headed to the Kappabashi Kitchen District in Tokyo. I had done my research, had my print out in hand, made my list to try and keep me focused on what I was looking for - had even found an excellent review for a coffee house, Kappabashi Coffee, at the half way point of Kappabashi-Dori. I had a goal (well many goals ... my list was a bit long), I had motivation - caffeine. I was set.
It's hard to miss the entrance to the district with the large chef up on top of the building (see slide show photo). And immediately, you are enticed with stacks of dishes spilling out onto the sidewalk from a well positioned store, artfully arranged it would appear to distract you from your list and get you to part with your precious Yen. I made a few mental notes and promised myself I would save enough space in my bag and yen in my pocket to stop back by on our way to the metro station. Why load up at the beginning?
There are so many cool things here, even beyond the great dishes at Target prices. There are the shops that sell the plastic food models that many of the restaurants have on display in front of their shops. They are so cool, and if they weren't so blasted expensive I would have picked up a few items.
The bamboo shops were neat with all kinds of cool hors d'oeuvre picks - and I thought about how much my mom and sister would love that place. Which in a round about way brings me to why I was so desperate to get to the kitchen district this month - in the rain, sleet and snow. Once a month I get together with a fabulous group of Japanese ladies for English Conversation. Each month they take turns hosting the meeting at their homes. It has been great fun for me, and they pull out all the stops. I think each one has graduated from some sort of "Art of Entertaining" University - I say this in jest, but they are all gracious, welcoming and they certainly know how to put out a spread. I should know how to too ... my mom seems to pull together dinner parties with ease, my sister has clearly inherited this skill and throws impressive parties - but for all my alleged creativity in some arenas I feel it always falls short in the entertainment/hostess section. So already, I'm starting to sweat it out a bit, I'm thinking of what to serve and OMG! What to serve it on! On the advice of a friend who lived here in Japan I brought very little in the way of dishes and serving platters. We are talking bare bones. She said "pack light and go back heavy." So I surveyed our kitchen shelves and realized, aside from the lone salad bowl I had brought (that we got as a wedding present more than a quarter of a century ago and has a couple of chips in it) my kitchen was in a sad state for entertaining. Thus the long list.
The list did help me stay focused, but along with the recessive entertainment gene from my mom I have a much more dominant gene from my dad - growing up if he said as he was walking out the door "I'm headed to the hardware store" we all knew that it would be hours before we saw him - if we were lucky. Kitchen stores are my equivalent to my dad's hardware store - I love them. I love all the gadgets, all the cool kitchen tools, and maybe there's the flicker of hope in there that if I get this "whisk or pan or dish or strainer or ..." I'll be able to whip up a fabulous meal and entertain like my mom and sister. There's always hope.
I had a blast and my fellow explorer's were patient with me. Next time though I think I'll be dragging along my husband with the promise of an awesome cup of coffee at Kappabashi Coffee (which tasted particularly good on a cold day) and a knife store, Kamata, to end all knife stores as well as the Union Coffee Factory that has more coffee gadgets than I would know what to do with - but Jeff, who loves a good cuppa joe, would be more than happy to try and figure out. Besides, I'll need that extra set of hands ...
Till next time, sayonara.
What is that golden frog? It is a Kappa, the mischievous frog-like sprite from Japanese legend. The Kappabashi street has adopted it as its mascot.
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