Shopping is another name for a treasure hunt♪
Published: February 24, 2017
Greetings, one and all. This is your friendly neighborhood CIR reporting for duty (｡･Д･)ゞ
Today, I am exploring the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa area of Koto City, a culturally important area that’s been getting quite a bit of buzz for its coffee and art scene.
There are plenty of attractions in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, but a must-stop is Edo Souvenir Shop Takahashi, a place that’s sure to hit you with old-time nostalgia. With goods crammed wall-to-wall, it reminds me of an attic room full of treasures waiting to be explored♪
Penny for your sweet tooth?
We’ll start at the back of the store where the penny candies are on display (I haven’t bought penny candy since I was a kid!)
Japanese penny candies (dagashi) make up a delightfully colorful catalogue of treats that have remained familiar since decades ago. Kids rushing to the neighborhood candy store after school to pick out goodies used to be a common sight, and it’s nice to see the tradition being kept alive.
With prices that start at the dime-range, adults can also have fun by indulging in the luxury of buying a little bit of everything. Why not use this opportunity to use up all the pesky change jangling in your pocket and get a sampling of Japanese candy from the Showa era?
(Remember when we all used to get excited about candies that changed color as you ate them?)
A taste of Koto in your kitchen
Kiyosumi-Shirakawa is part of the historic Fukagawa area of Koto City, which is known as the birthplace of Fukagawa-meshi. This traditional fishermen’s dish, made by pouring a generous amount of asari (littleneck) clams boiled in miso soup over rice, has been loved by the people for ages.
Takahashi pays homage to the dish with their original Fukagawa-meshi stock, which you can throw into your rice cooker for a taste of authentic Koto cooking without any hassle.
If you’ve never tried littleneck clams, I highly recommend it. It has the oceanic umami taste shared by other seafood, but with a nice clean finish (^^)
There are even English instructions on display at the store!
Another interesting product is the lineup of original furikake (rice seasoning made from dried vegetables and herbs) available.
Furikake can also be used as seasoning for other foods or as an extra on your spice rack.
Not sure what to use them for? Check out the handwritten notes over each, which give advice on what ingredients would go best with each flavor!
Not your average souvenir shop…
Being a souvenir shop, there are, of course, many memorabilia around the store as well. This postcard makes a clever crossover between this year’s Zodiac (the Rooster) and the famed uso bird (Japanese bullfinch) of Kameido Tenjin Shrine.
Next to the postcards, these bookmarks are made by hand using traditional Japanese paper, and are one-of-a-kind. Perfect for the bibliophiles in your life!
And stylish handkerchiefs are lined up for your perusal. They make a good present for anyone, regardless of gender or age.
There are also…
Some items which are may be more captivating for their design rather than their functionality!
(Though who wouldn’t love to have a lounging skeleton banner in their home, or a mystery object depicting a frog who has clearly embraced sloth as his life motto?)
You can even find antiques from the bygone era, like this old public telephone!
I could keep going, but the more you explore, the more you’ll find…!
The warmest place you’ve ever been
While Takahashi has draws you in with the charms of its surprising repertory of knick-knacks, what keeps people coming back are the owner (he’s been wearing that wig for 28 years, and is a bit of a local celebrity. You have to admit he knows how to leave an impression)…
And his kindly wife.
She’s flipping through her collection of notebooks, which are kept at the store and which anyone can doodle in. From local kids currently living in the area, to the children of those who have grown up loving the store, to one-time travellers who happened to stop by…
The pages are filled with the memories of many, and each is precious to the owners.
The care they have for their customers really shines through. Speaking with them, I feel like I’m meeting extended family, rather than store owners 🙂
The warmth they radiate, combined with the sheer uniqueness of their store, have an attraction that’s best felt in person. I, for one, will be sure to come back for another visit soon!
(Psst! For those adventurers out there who participate in geo-caching, this store is definite must-stop. I won’t tell you where to look though. You’ll have to search the store for the treasures yourself!)
editor： Xianru Shen （Koto City Office Coordinator for International Relations）