Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kappabashi 1

A special post inspired by the thematic things I saw on Yukari's site recently. Kappabashi is a frequently-mentioned tourist destination in food circles (just after Tsukiji, which seems to be #1 on every tourist's list), and there are a few stores that I always end up going back to. Here's a general feel for the neighborhood as well as some store recommendations, and I'll try to put this stuff on The Map also. Tell your friends!

First, the name. 河童 is a 'river sprite', some unholy amalgam of man and fish that lives in water and helps people or messes with them depending on their whims (and prior treatment, I suppose). Kappabashi Street is called that because some kappas, treated well in the past, helped with a canal digging / excavation problem in the area, and thus got it named for them.

I look a little like a kappa. Only less golden. (However it should be noted that this sculpture is new, and is the first time I've seen a golden kappa. Errr, maybe the two statues on Hida Takayama's Kajibashi are gold... The Kappabashi in Kamikochi doesn't have statues. That's all I can think of!)

Yep, there are lots of Kappa in the neighborhood.
This guy is sorta the official mascot. You'll see a lot of him. And also some much less lovely blow-up plastic versions, but you mostly see those in the saddest stores.

These two came in a pair. They're known as the 'dumb kappa' because of their facial expressions.

These looks a little like Teenage Mutant Ninja Kappa, don't they? This little diorama was outside a sushi place off the main street (and on the Knife Street, as I've now christened it. There's a cross street where a number of knife places congregate.).

This guy's getting ready for some cooking. And hoping he gets to see the Olympics in Tokyo.

And this guy is part of a pair outside a really good knife store (Kamata).

I'm not sure, but I think this is a drunk kappa. That would explain the palid color and one cross-eye.

I wish I could convey the real magnificence of this, but this animatronic statue was knodding, waving its hands and singing "The Yellow Rose of Texas". Seriously. Please alternate between pictures for best effect.

Right, more useful posts coming up later.

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