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Near Asakusa! 15 Lovely Cafes and Shops in Kuramae, a Historic District

福島

Translated by Greg

Written by Chien

2022.04.26

Kuramae is a town with a traditional atmosphere neighboring Asakusa. It has been known as an artisans' town since the Edo Period. You'll find here shops with unique stationery and daily goods, as well as cafes and restaurants. Today, we'll introduce our top 15 spots to visit in Kuramae.

Kuramae: Discover Unique Shops Next to Asakusa!

Kuramae—located next to Tokyo's famous sightseeing spot of Asakusa—is a popular working-class neighborhood.

Known especially for the traditional crafts that have developed here, Kuramae is home to charming stationery stores, interior decoration shops, cafes, and dining establishments. Read on to learn about 15 great places to visit in Kuramae.

1. Kakimori: Make One-of-a-Kind Notebooks!

Kakimori

Kakimori is a shop you need to visit if you love stationery goods. Here, you can create your one-of-a-kind notebook!

There is a wide variety of paper to choose for the notebook cover and the pages inside. These also include paper made from specially selected materials created in collaboration with craftworkers and artists.

Kakimori

In addition to notebooks, the shop is lined with pens, fountain pens, and original letter writing supplies.

One visit here, and you might get hooked on these attractive yet highly functional stationery products.

Kakimori

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2. ink stand by kakimori: Mix and Prepare Your Own Ink

ink stand by kakimori

Fountain pens are attractive because of their uniquely smooth writing style and long lifespan.

inkstand by kakimori is recommended for those interested in fountain pens. On the shop premises, customers can mix and prepare their own fountain pen ink.

ink stand by kakimori

You first choose your base color among 16 different ink colors. Next, add new colors to the base drop by drop until you're satisfied with the final product. Finally, you can test it by writing with a glass pen.

The time you take to inscribe your letters slowly will be a memorable part of your trip!

*Reservations are required for this hands-on ink-making experience.

inkstand by kakimori

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3. Nakamura Tea Life Store: A Selection of High-Quality Green Tea!

Japanese Green Tea Nakamura Tea Life Store

Nakamura Tea Life Store handles high-quality Japanese green tea. Chemical fertilizers are not used on any green tea sold in the shop.

The tea comes with a quality assurance certificate that states where the tea leaves were picked. The certificate also lists other relevant pre-harvest information.

Nakamura Tea Life Store

Many shops in the Kuramae and Asakusa area—starting with the WIRED HOTEL Asakusa—use green tea from Nakamura Tea Life Store.

In addition to green tea, the shop carries other items such as teapots and containers. Why not pick up something extra when purchasing your tea?

Nakamura Tea Life Store

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4. Tokyo PiXEL: Let’s Dive Into the World of Pixel Art!

Tokyo PiXEL

Pixel art is often used in computer games.

Tokyo PiXEL is a shop in Kuramae that specializes in a variety of cute household goods. The images of pixel art are slightly modified, and the resulting motifs are used to create a variety of cutely decorated products.

Tokyo PiXEL

In addition to Japanese-style designs such as Mt. Fuji and sushi, beloved characters like Hello Kitty, Star Wars, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time have been transformed into pixel art.

We recommend these slightly unusual souvenirs!

TOKYO PiXEL. Shop & gallery

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5. nui.: Meet Charming People From Around the World!

nui. Cafe

From Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE: A Warm Guest House a Stop Away From Asakusa

Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE sits along the Sumida River. This guest house has been attracting attention from international and domestic travelers.

Formerly a toy company's factory, the building was renovated and now features an eye-catching exterior.

nui. Cafe

From Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE: A Warm Guest House a Stop Away From Asakusa

In addition to five guest rooms, there's an adjoining bar and cafe. It's become a fun place where hotel patrons and locals can interact.

Spending time here can result in some new encounters. It might become one page in your life's book of wonderful memories.

Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE

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6. Tonkatsu Sugita: Savor Exquisite Pork Cutlets

Tonkatsu Sugita

Now that you've made the trip here, it's time to dig into some delicious food! We recommend a famous tonkatsu (pork cutlet) shop called Tonkatsu Sugita.

This long-established shop has a history of some 40 years. It's also managed by a second-generation owner.

Tonkatsu Sugita

The tonkatsu batter has an enjoyable crispy texture. On the first bite, the savory meat will spread in your mouth. You'll undoubtedly feel the expertise that's expected at a long-standing establishment.

Sugita's original blend sauce is also exquisite. There are even lines outside this popular shop on weekdays.

Tonkatsu Sugita

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7. Yuwaeru: Taste Delicious Genmai Rice

Yuwaeru

Yuwaeru is a Japanese-style teishoku (set menu) shop where you can try delicious genmai rice (brown rice).

They started cooking their rice to convert more people into genmai lovers. This rice is characterized by its stickiness and firm, chewy texture.

The set menu at lunch lets you choose your preferred side dish and miso soup.

In the evening, the restaurant turns into an izakaya. In an atmosphere that's quite different from lunchtime, guests can enjoy seasonal Japanese cuisine using high-quality Japanese ingredients.

蔵前結わえる本店 定食

In addition to genmai rice, the shop sells various products, including amazake (sweet non-alcoholic sake) made with seasonings and vegetables from various regions of Japan. These items also make great souvenirs.

Yuwaeru Main Store

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8. Dandelion Chocolate: Experience Decadent Gourmet Chocolate!

Dandelion Chocolate

Although many people consume chocolate daily, it's not common to get a close-up look at the chocolate-making process.

At Dandelion Chocolate, Factory and Cafe Kuramae, visitors can watch the entire process while enjoying a drink and sweets. This process begins with the craftspeople carefully selecting cocoa beans to the creation of the finished product.

Dandelion Chocolate, Factory and Cafe Kuramae

The photo above is the Kuramae Hot Chocolate (690 yen after tax) and a S'more, a treat made with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate ganache (550 yen after tax). These are only available at the Kuramae location.

The hot chocolate is accented with organic hojicha green tea from Nakamura Tea Life Store (mentioned above).

Dandelion Chocolate Factory & Cafe Kuramae

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9. iriya plus cafe: Relax in a Renovated Space

riya plus cafe

iriya plus cafe@custom soko suddenly pops up along a back alley running from Kuramae Station to Tawaramachi Station.

The cafe's building formerly served as a storage facility for ballroom dance outfits. But after undergoing a renovation, it was reborn as a cafe with a comfortable and relaxing wood-grain interior.

iriya plus cafe@custom soko

The menu includes coffee that's freshly brewed on an authentic espresso machine. There's also french toast (*) topped with homemade whipped cream. Other popular items are healthy sweets, such as additive-free pancakes that don't use baking powder.

*This was the menu at the time of the interview. The current menu has undergone some revisions.

10. foo..: Stuffed Animals That Soothe the Soul

foo..

Stuffed Toys foo.. is a retail outlet for Shinada Global, a long-established stuffed animal company.

Despite being relatively unknown, they make many stuffed toys. It's said that Shinada Global makes two or three out of ten stuffed toys.

Their products aren't just cute. They sometimes reflect the times, such as their busakawa collection (from the Japanese word "busakawaii," meaning ugly but adorable). They continue to create unique and original stuffed animals.

The "fumofumo-san" series is one of their popular stuffed animals. Fumofumo is a mysterious animal living above the clouds. They are attractive because of their cute appearance and soft, fluffy touch.

There's also a curious-looking stuffed animal based on a creature from outer space. There are also characters only available in local areas.

You won't be able to take your eyes off these stuffed creatures.

11. Mizukiya Baba Shoten: Baskets Handmade by Craftworkers

Mizukiya Baba Shoten

Mizukiya Baba Shoten is a long-standing wholesale store specializing in baskets. It dates back more than 100 years ago.

The shop has been patronized by people operating public baths (sento) and food markets. That's because all the basket products are high-quality, durable items carefully woven by craftworkers.

The basket items are made with natural ingredients such as rattan, bamboo, and willow branches. They are popular for their sophisticated color combinations, sturdiness, and other appealing features.

You'll no doubt find ideal basket items that are functional, tasteful, and refined.

12. Chashitsu Kosame: Enjoy Green Tea and Tasty Scones

Chashitsu Kosame

Chashitsu Kosame is a coffee shop specializing in green tea. The tea menu has over ten types of tea, including flavored and decaffeinated varieties.

The handmade sweets are also a hit, including scones and cakes served with seasonal fruit jam. While listening to jazz music in the background, you can have a relaxing break time.

13. Kissa Hangetsu: Savor Sweets Inside an Antique Interior

Kissa Hangetsu

Kissa Hangetsu is a fashionable cafe on the second floor of a building above Shinonome—a Japanese-style confectionery shop with a legion of fans.

When you open the large door, the atmosphere feels like you've stepped into a medieval gallery. The giant counter table, antique sofa, and carpet create a unique interior that's very impressive.

The shop's most popular item is the seasonal fruit cream puff. The crispy, light-tasting pastry shell combines perfectly with the rich cream inside. One bite will have you instantly enveloped by an indescribable feeling of happiness.

Cafe half a month

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14. mt lab: Play With Masking Tape

mt lab

Pictures courtesy of KAMOI KAKOSHI

The masking tape brand mt opened its first retail outlet, mt lab, in Kuramae in 2017.

You'll find regular tape that's sold in all parts of Japan. However, there are items not in regular distribution normally found at events.

They also hold exhibitions showcasing artwork made with tape and events where the tape is sold by the weight. It's safe to say this shop is like heaven for fans of masking tape.

mt lab.

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15. Pelican Cafe: A Shop That Specializes in Toast!

Pelican Cafe

Pictures courtesy of PR TIMES

Did you know that Asakusa's Pelican bakery has been in business for about 80 years?

One glance, and it appears to resemble ordinary toast. However, many people become hooked on this bread after a single bite.

The Pelican Bread Company opened Pelican Cafe hoping that more people would taste freshly-baked toast.

The menu features a full lineup of items using their signature bread. This includes fruit sandwiches, butter toast baked to a golden brown over a charcoal fire, cheese toast, and a pork cutlet sandwich.

Customers can also enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee or black tea, which pairs perfectly with toast.

Pelican Cafe

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Don’t Miss Out on Kuramae When Visiting Asakusa!

Like the olden days, Kuramae is a town filled with many craftworkers engaged in making beautiful items.

In recent years, the area has been attracting even more attention. It's common to see visitors exploring the area with a camera slung around their neck on weekends.

If you plan on visiting Asakusa and Kappabashi in search of miscellaneous goods, stationery items, and coffee, please add Kuramae to your travel itinerary!

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.