Take a walk around ASAKUSA and KAPPA BASHI DOGU GAI.
ASAKUSA is a well known town in Tokyo and a lot of people from outside Japan visit this town because ASAKUSA has a lot of Japanese traditional spots like shops, restaurants, and temples.
Some people might have an impression that Tokyo is highly urbanized and it is a kind of concrete jungle where people are cold and distant. But here in ASAKUSA, you can feel old-town atmosphere and people are so kind.
SENSO JI (SENSO Temple) is the place you should definitely visit when you are in ASAKUSA, but this time I skipped it because I could not wait to go to my destination, JAKOTSU YU, a SENTO of natural ONSEN which has a long history. If you pass SENSO JI to your right and keep walking to the west for 10 to 15 minutes, you will reach KAPPA BASHI DOGU GAI (KAPPA BASHI Tool Street).
KAPPA BASHI DOGU GAI is the well known wholesale place where more than 170 specialty stores are located along the street of 800 meters long. There are so many kinds of stores such as ceramic goods, kitchen utensils, furniture and so on. Although this is a wholesale market, you can buy anything like plates, bowls, tea pot, and chopsticks etc one by one, and even if you don’t buy anything, just walking around here is very interesting. This is the best place to get Japanese tableware in a reasonable price.
You can find a lot of old and traditional buildings as they used to be or renovated which should have long history.
Shopping at KAPPA BASHI DOGU GAI
I have walked around KAPPA BASHI DOGU GAI to find some nice Japanese tea pot and tea cups. After a while, I have found the ceramic shop named DENGAMA. I was so excited with its wide varieties of bowls and cups which are so colorful. Moreover, the products here are sold in very reasonable price.
Honestly I could not decide which one to buy, but after a while, I decided to buy a tea pot and cups of MINO YAKI (MINO Ware) which is one of the famous pottery in Japan. After buying them, I have been enjoying drinking green tea, GENMAI CHA (tea with roasted rice), and jasmine tea with these tea pot and cups every day. The time to enjoy tea with your favorite pot and cup really refreshes you.
Then, finally going to JAKOTSU YU, SENTO which has natural ONSEN where I have wanted to come for a long time.
You may be surprised if you know the meaning of JAKOTSU in Japanese, because it means snake’s bone. I have no idea why this SENTO was named like that, but different from its scary name, the SENTO is very clean and peace. There are a lot of local people from old to young coming here to enjoy it unique ONSEN. It is located only 10 minutes walk from KAPPA BASHI street and easily accessible after sightseeing ASAKUSA.
ONSEN springing out in Tokyo is usually black (called KURO YU / Black ONSEN) and the color of ONSEN of this SENTO is also black. But a little bit different from dark black color in KAMATA area, here its color looks light gold.
Related article of KURO YU (Black ONSEN) in Tokyo
This JAKOTSU YU opened since Edo Period and obviously has a long history. There is a photo you can see in the building which tells how this place used to be in the past.
There is a composition table on the wall. According to the explanation written in this composition table, it is not designated as RYOYO SEN (medical ONSEN). Actually, what Japan’s Hot Spring Law defines is that the RYOYO SEN (medical ONSEN) has to have the hot spring source over 25°C and some specific constituents have to reach minimal required value, and it is usually named like Sodium Chloride ONSEN. However, here, although these specific constituents don’t reach minimal required value, some other constituents such as metacilicic acid and bicarbonate do, thus not designated as RYOYO SEN but ONSEN. This is what I have learnt to get “ONSEN Sommelier” qualification. Having said that, metacilicic acid is often used in skin care products, and from that sense, bathing in this ONSEN could be thought as if bathing in a kind of skin lotion, which is obviously very good for your skin. It is very interesting if you can understand these composition table when you go to ONSEN.
Just for your information, the charges of SENTO (public bath) in Tokyo is evenly 460 yen. (As of June 2018)
It is worth experiencing the local SENTO with only 460 yen!