Asakusa is one of the best places in Tokyo for souvenir shopping as it is packed with shops, many specialising in traditional crafts. Nearby to the west is the 'kitchenware town' of Kappabashi-dōri, while to the south is Kuramae, dotted with boutiques selling more contemporary crafts. The mammoth Solamachi mall is the main spot to shop in Oshiage.
Feature: Kuramae's Craftshops
A short walk south of Asakusa and beside the Sumida-gawa, the low rents and long-established culture of craftsmanship in Kuramae (蔵前) have inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to set up shop here. It may lack the flash of other Tokyo shopping districts, but an amble around the small boutiques and ateliers in this area remains a pleasure.
Start with Koncent, a trendy homewares and gift boutique on Edo-dōri, stocking mainly Japanese design products. It serves coffee and produces a detailed, free map (in Japanese) that covers many of the area's interesting businesses. Move on to Kakimori, which specialises in customised notebooks and other stationery, then mix your own unique colour of ink at Ink Stand. There's also naturally dyed clothing and accessories at Maito; and lovely leather goods at Camera, where you can also have something to drink and eat.
Feature: Kappabashi Kitchenware Town
Kappabashi-dōri is the country’s largest wholesale restaurant-supply and kitchenware district. Gourmet accessories include bamboo steamer baskets, lacquer trays, neon signs and chōchin (paper lanterns). It's also where restaurants get their freakishly realistic plastic food models.
Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya has a showroom of tongue-in-cheek ones, plus key chains and kits to make your own. Staff at Kama-asa can advise you in English and French on the best locally made knife from their excellent selection – if you're in town for a week or more, you can have them engrave your name or choice of words onto a knife for free. Also drop by Soi for a well-edited selection of ceramics and glassware, new and vintage, plus some really cute tenugui (hand-dyed thin cotton towels) to wrap them in.