On a recent week-long visit to Tokyo, I set aside a Saturday morning to look for a bamboo scraper for my ginger grater and a white earthenware bowl similar to one I had seen in Kyoto a month before.
The sky was covered with little fluffy clouds when I got off the Shin-okachimachi Station on the Oedo Line.
The weather was perfect for a stroll, so instead of transferring to the Tsukuba Express, I decided to walk the kilometer and a half to Kappabashi-dori.
It is also known as “Kitchen Town”, a kilometer-long strip between Asakusa and Ueno famous for shops selling kitchen supplies to the city’s restaurants.
With the spirit of a flâneur kicking inside me, I navigated the flat terrain, looking at everything I saw along the way.
I passed by an archery shop and thought of William Tell – the Swiss folk hero who is always portrayed in drawings holding a crossbow – until I got distracted by a row of stores selling altars in all sizes, incense, incense holders, lamps and offering vessels.
A block later, a store window made me pause and admire its display of brushes in different shapes, sizes and materials.
I have always been a fan of these utilitarian tools – all the more now that they are losing their appeal in this digital age.
I stepped inside and was greeted by two women: a mother who spoke no English, and her daughter, who also didn’t know the language but carried a portable voice translator with her.