#SPRUNTINGINJAPAN: ueno, kappabashi kitchen town + akihabara

Monday, 12 October 2015
Up in the north east of Tokyo, there are a cluster of neighbourhoods around the Ueno area that we loved. First of all, there's Ueno Park. The park is huge and home to a few museums, making it a cultural hotspot. It was a national holiday while we were there and we found a huge pottery market in the square, where we picked up a few cheap dishes and bowls. I love the pictures below - Darren is smiling because we'd just started looking, but it was really hot and there was zero air circulating, so in the next picture I'm pretty sure he's going 'just pick one'. 

We found this cute panda postbox outside the zoo, which is inside the park. The zoo was seriously cheap (¥600) so we should have known it wouldn't be great. It's a nice zoo with plenty of open spaces for larger groups and families to hang out and enjoy, but on the whole we found the enclosures a bit sad and realised how great London Zoo really is. The best part of the zoo, for me, ended up being the giant lily pond, which is home to the lemurs, who probably got the best deal in the park.

About 10 minutes' walk from Ueno station you come to a giant chef's head on top of a building, which marks the start of Kappabashi-dori - also known as kitchen town. This is, as you might imagine, a whole street full of shops selling everything you could possibly need for cooking, from traditional Japanese utensils and crockery to some of the world's best knives and the lanterns you find hanging outside ramen shops. Apparently, both home cooks and restauranteurs alike shop here, but we found it to be expensive. I came away with a copper egg pan used for making my favourite tamagoyaki, which I noticed (smugly) was more expensive everywhere else we saw it.

A few stops away on the subway there's another mecca for another type of fanatic altogether. Akihabara is world-famous for being the home of department stores for electronics, shops devoted to comics, anime figurines and collectibles and, of course, maid cafes. We heard a place called Nakano Broadway is actually a lot better for anime and manga collectors - Darren's a fan - but Akihabara is easily accessible and I was happy not to go to looking for anymore nerd shops (sorry, Darren!). 

Not far from Ueno, there's a neighbourhood called Yanaka with a kind of old town vibe. You can get a beer from the local shop and sit on a crate outside, snacking on croquettes from nearby stalls. We stopped by for a quick drink with my friend Ayumi before going on to a local temple. During national holidays, many temples in Japan have little festivals where they set up food stalls and games and people flood in to eat, chat and play. This ended up being one of my favourite evenings in Tokyo thanks to the festive atmosphere and cheap, tasty eats.


  1. It looks amazing! I really want to go to Japan, my boyfriend is super sensible and as we just had a really expensive holiday in Iceland we have to wait to go to Japan until we get a house apparently. We'll see his resolve crumble in no time...


    1. Thanks for your comment, it really is an amazing place. AND less expensive than you might think! I have a post next week with a few practical tips, but essentially our flights were £400, we spent about £600 each on accommodation and took about £800 spending money each, which is definitely a lot, but we were away for 17 days!

  2. I need to head back to Tokyo to see Yanaka when the shops are open. Was one of my favourite spots. Enjoying seeing what you got up to. ;)