Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Asakusa Kingyo - Catch Your Very Own Goldfish!
Written by Eri Okubo
Asakusa Kingyo is a goldfish themed shop in the heart of Asakusa, a center of traditional Japanese culture and sightseeing in Tokyo. At this fun spot you can experience authentic goldfish catching and find adorable Japanese souvenirs to take home.
Goldfish catching games are associated with celebratory and fun traditional Japanese festivals. As its name suggests, the game consists of trying to catch a goldfish swimming in a pool, and those who have tried playing it themselves know how exciting it is.
Asakusa Kingyo is where you can enjoy goldfish catching without having to attend a festival.
Asakusa Kingyo is a thematic shop that carries goldfish items. It is two doors next to the Kagetsudo main store which sells Asakusa specialty melon bread.
Look for the red goldfish-colored noren, a curtain-like fabric hanging from the door at the storefront. The interior has a very warm and high-class feeling from its cypress wood structure. The focus of the shop is the massive fish tank with cute goldfish swimming around in it, set in the middle of the shop. Customers can experience trying to catch and scoop out goldfish right here.
Try Goldfish Catching
Goldfish catching is a game where you try to scoop up goldfish from a tank using a tool called a poi. You can try as many times as you like until the poi (*1) rips.
The tank in Asakusa Kingyo has red, black, and telescope goldfish, and many more types. It's fun just watching the goldfish swimming around, but it might be even more fun to actually try catching a goldfish yourself.
*1 A poi is a paper net on a plastic frame used for catching goldfish.
You can play a game of goldfish catching for 300 yen per try for three poi.
Instructions on how to play are written in Japanese, English, and Chinese, reassuring for visitors who don't know the rules of the game. The nice gentleman working in the shop taught me some tricks on how to catch the goldfish as well.
You first begin playing after wetting your poi in the water. Act fast and put your poi in the water on a diagonal angle to scoop up the goldfish once they swim above your poi!
It sounds easy to do, but in reality, it's not as easy as it sounds. The first time, I didn't stick the poi in quickly, so the goldfish escaped.
Once you stick the poi into the water, bring it close so the poi is under the goldfish. Move parallel in the water so the poi does not rip from the water pressure. Another tip is to try to scoop it right by your bowl.
With my second poi I was able to scoop up some smaller goldfish, and in the very end, I challenged myself and tried to catch a slightly larger telescope goldfish. I managed to bring it out of the water, but after the goldfish flopped about, its weight tore my poi and the goldfish escaped.
At Asakusa Kingyo, they have a thicker poi for those who just want to play and a thinner poi for those who would like to take goldfish home. Apparently, a skillful customer once took home 27 goldfish. After hearing that, it made me want to try harder.
There are plenty of other things to do at Asakusa Kingyo aside from playing the goldfish catching game.
There are many Japanese-style goldfish items worth checking out, which make perfect souvenirs. Shelves with many goldfish-themed goods surround the tank in the center of the store.
Some of Asakusa Kingyo's most popular items are the wind chimes, Chinese style fans and the folding fans that remind people of the summer. Wouldn't it be fun to spend a hot summer surrounded by such nice cooling items?
We also recommend the Japanese style wallet with a clip-top. It comes in many designs, so be sure to look for the one you like best. How about getting this cute wallet and going for a relaxing stroll in Asakusa?
Surprisingly, we even found unique goldfish omikuji, or paper fortunes. These paper fortunes are folded inside a ceramic goldfish. You can take the paper out from inside the goldfish through the bottom, so you can keep the ceramic goldfish as decoration without having to break it open.
There are other goldfish merchandise such as traditional kinchaku (*2) bags and towels too. Next time you're in Asakusa, be sure to stop by Asakusa Kingyo to challenge your skills at goldfish catching and find a great souvenir.
*2 Kinchaku: a Japanese bag used to store and carry around small things.
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This article is based on information from August 2016.