Kappabashi Kitchenware Street (かっぱ橋道具街) – Tokyo, Asakusa (浅草)

Alternate title, ‘fake food!’ (But, according to a sign I saw “please don’t use the term ‘fake food’, the preferred term is ‘food sample'”)

So you if you’ve ever been to Japan or read anything about Japanese food and restaurants, you’ve probably heard the term ‘fake food’ or ‘food samples’ thrown in somewhere – referring to the super-realistic plastic (tradtionally wax) models used to indicate/advertise what delicious food a restaurant has for sale.

But of course, these restaurants don’t make these models themselves, they buy them/have them made. And if they’re in Tokyo, there’s a reasonable (honestly I have no idea how likely) chance they get them from the Kappabashi Kitchenware Street in Asakusa.

img_8929

First up, Maizuru

img_8887

Ramen!

img_8888

More ramen?!

img_8886

Ice cream!

img_8890

A variety of rice bowls – the bright orange ‘balls’ are “Ikura” – salmon roe.

img_8891img_8892

img_8893

Fruit!

img_8894

Keyrings

img_8898

Beer!

img_8899

Sushi! (by the looks of thinks, sea urchin (うに) up front

img_8900

More sushi!

img_8901

More more suhi!

img_8903

Crab!

img_8904

Sundaes!

img_8906

img_8907

Pizza!

img_8908

Soba!

img_8909

Ramen!

img_8911

Crepes!

img_8913

Another place…not sure what’s it’s called as the sign just reads 食品サンプル – Food (product) samples

img_8915

Crepes!

img_8916

Sushi!

img_8914

Keyrings!

img_8923

Aaand another place – “Satou Sampuru”…

img_8922

…though I was starting to get hungry, so I ended up not going in.

And whilst I had heard that ‘these make good souvenirs’, whoever mentioned that clearly has more money than sense…these things are EXPENSIVE (understandable I guess). Some of the small pieces are like £20-30, but for the most part it’s £50+

So that’s the food samples, but this street has everything you’d ever need if you were running a restaurant, and also a decent amount of consumer-focused stores too.

img_8928

This coffee place (not a cafe, just selling beans/grounds and equipment) smelled (smelt?) absolutely gorgeous

img_8926

img_8917

Bowl and plates and whatnot

img_8918

img_8921

The sort of signage that you’ll see whenever you walk by most traditional Japanese restaurants

Oh yeah, and this area is called Kappabashi (かっぱ橋), so of course there’s a statue of a Kappa (wikipedia link included as to what a Kappa is)

img_8920

yeah…if you read the wiki link…it’s just as weird as it looks

A fun way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy day, just don’t browse the food samples on an empty stomach!

Advertisements

Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉)

Kusatsu (草津), a famous onsen town that 妙子 (Taeko) san very kindly brought us to on a day off. As always, it’s raining, though don’t let that be a reflection of the general weather – we just tended to get days off when it was raining heavily because no-one wants to be in a field for 7+ hours getting drenched.


#41

It was a bit of a whistle-stop tour, but I’m super grateful to Taeko-san for bringing us here as it was an absolutely lovely town. After walking around and perusing the sights, she even treated us to a delicious lunch at a fantastic soba restaurant. And then we took a dip in the natural onsen baths – wonderfully chill day!

FullSizeRenderIMG_8771IMG_8776IMG_8776IMG_8777FullSizeRender 2FullSizeRender 3FullSizeRender 4FullSizeRender 5

FullSizeRender 6

You can almost smell the sulphur in this photo

FullSizeRender 7

FullSizeRender 8

Cats!

IMG_8794IMG_8801IMG_8804IMG_8808

IMG_8817

I don’t speak German, but “Friendship between Japan and Germany” I think?

IMG_8820IMG_8821FullSizeRender 9

IMG_8834

Me, posing as I usually do for photos (badly), Taeko-san (left) and Nanase-san (right)

Onioshidashi Park (鬼押出し園)

What a great name – ‘Onioshidashi’ which translates very roughly to “pushing out demons” was the location of a huge volcanic eruption of nearby Mount Asama (浅間山) in 1783, and the landscape definitely looks like something befitting of such a name. Oh and btw, the volcano is still active.


#40

Went here with one of the other volunteers on a day-off, and of course it was both super cloudy and rainy. Here’s some of idea of how good the visibility was

FullSizeRender 3

what mountains?

Photos!

IMG_8517IMG_8491IMG_8500

IMG_8507

This nook was covered in a moss that was either luminescent or just had some interesting reflective properties, such that it glowed green…which you can’t see in the photo 😦

IMG_8523IMG_8522IMG_8515IMG_8488IMG_8480IMG_8483IMG_8490IMG_8525

IMG_8508

You can just about make out the ferris wheel (big wheel?) of a nearby amusement park

So despite the weather, it was a lot of fun due to the interesting landscape…maybe not ‘go there at all costs’ fun, but definitely ‘if you’re in the area’ fun.

Ueda Castle Ruins Park (上田城跡公園)

This was like 2 months ago, and all I can remember is that they converted most of the castle grounds to a public park, which was pretty neat.


#39

Other than that, enjoy some (only a few, was with some other folks and we were on a time limit, so didn’t want to slow everyone down too much) photos!

FullSizeRender 2IMG_8443FullSizeRender

IMG_8447

That’s a big-ass stone

IMG_8449

Gun window…is what I’m calling it. A good vantage point to shoot your enemies.

IMG_8451

I guess sometimes you want to shoot people that are a little closer to the castle?

IMG_8452

View of Ueda City, and as usual, mountains.

Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖)

One of Mt Fuji (富士山)’s 5 great lakes.
Before you get excited (lol as if) at the thought of some neat Mt Fuji pics
IMG_8280

It was very cloudy, so I couldn’t see the summit 😦
Which would’ve left me a bit miffed, but I wasn’t coming here out of my way so to speak – it was a bus from Takayama(高山) to Shinjuku(新宿), Tokyo, that I opted to stop over at Kawaguchiko for a few hours. (Still a bit miffed though)

Also, on the topic of Mt Fuji, I opted to not even try and climb it (this year at least) – mostly due to the sheer expense of travel, equipment hire, lodging etc.. I’ll try and make it a thing to do in the future (honest!)

Anyway due to the time restriction I only really got a few things done:
A look at Mt Fuji from the other side of the lake
IMG_8220IMG_8221

The ropeway for some nice pics of the lake, and surrounding mountains (it’s not just Fuji!!)
IMG_8222IMG_8252IMG_8234IMG_8241IMG_8247IMG_8236
Amusingly they had a camera and laptop set up so that you could “get a photo that looks like it isn’t cloudy”, where for something like ¥1000 (~£7) they’d photoshop you into a non-cloudy Mt Fuji backdrop. I opted not to, and bought an ice-cream instead. I think I chose well.

A cruise on the lake
IMG_8259IMG_8273IMG_8280

IMG_8336

and that was it. Not much to say really, it’s a really cool huge lake, with lots of tourist-trap shops and whatnot as you’d expect.


#36

But wait!! Just when all hope was lost.
IMG_8340IMG_8341IMG_8348

Yeah, a hurriedly-taken photo from a inside a bus doesn’t exactly make for a ‘nice’ photo, but I don’t care 😛

On an unrelated note, this was the last of the sightseeing posts that I was catching up on, so everything after this will be fresh new content.

Bear in mind I currently live in the middle of nowhere. The content may be a little dull.

Kamikōchi (上高地)

One of the reasons I opted for Kanazawa (金沢) and Takayama (高山) instead of…well, anywhere else was the really good transport links to other fun stuff, like Kamikōchi (上高地).

It’s basically just a huge area in/amongst the mountains with loads of camping and hiking spots – though due to time and (lack of) desire to climb a mountain in crazy hot temperatures, I opted for the easy hiking trails.

IMG_7995

Bus change at a nearby onsen

So one of the main attractions of the southern area of Kamikōchi is this big-ass lake Taishō Pond(大正池), known for it’s reflection of the mountains in clear water.

IMG_7998

unfortunately it was a pretty cloudy day, so the glorious mountain view with the lake was obscured

IMG_8006

but the water was absolute luscious

IMG_7997IMG_8002IMG_8005IMG_8007

A little down the way through some vaguely swamp-y areas

IMG_8009IMG_8014

there was a smaller lake

IMG_8018

based on the name it was a (smaller than previous) lake, but it was flowing…so no?

IMG_8022IMG_8025IMG_8029

So, a little further down the route and

IMG_8033

spoilers: I didn’t get eaten by a bear

Anyway, a little further down the trail…
IMG_8040IMG_8042IMG_8043

and we get to the River Azusa (梓川) that these hiking trails run alongside.

IMG_8055IMG_8059IMG_8074IMG_8078IMG_8084IMG_8085

And then Kappa Bridge (河童橋)
IMG_8101IMG_8102IMG_8105IMG_8108IMG_8109

Thus ends trail #1, off further up the river for trail #2
IMG_8120IMG_8136IMG_8146IMG_8147IMG_8149

Which ends with…you guessed it, another bridge!
IMG_8170IMG_8175IMG_8178

And now trail #3 back south to Kappa Bridge…for which I guess I didn’t take any photos…huh.

aaand we’re done – back at the visitor centre
IMG_8200

Really fun day, a bit cloudy, but still absolute gorgeous, if I was more of an outdoors-y person I would totally have camped here and tried some more adventurous trails…but yeah. That ain’t me.

Map!


#35

As you can see, relatively close to Takayama – I guess if there’s one thing Takayama is good for, it’s getting out of Takayama (sorry Takayama).