Kappabashi Market Memories

Given how many food photos I take and post, starting long before I began writing this blog, it’s really no wonder that my friends noticed. I was on a real kick for quite some time about noodle soups — especially udon and ramen. So this was a fabulous gift that I received this past Christmas:

Nope, it’s not a bowl of udon with an egg on top (although I’d totally eat that); it’s a miniature that has been made into a key chain. Here’s a better picture for scale:

I don’t use key chains often (I find that they get caught in my pocket), so I think I’ll take off the chain and turn it into a necklace. That would totally fit my sense of style (or lack thereof, you can judge for yourself). If you’re interested in one of your own, I think that my friends ordered it from LittlePinkBox on Etsy. No, I wasn’t snooping for prices, I wanted to see if they had any more!

I took the extreme close up with my new Easy Macro Lens on my cell phone, which was another part of the gift. Do my friends know me or what?

The tiny noodle soup bowl reminds me of my 2005 trip to Japan, specifically the Kappabashi Market in Tokyo, which is easily found by looking for the giant chef’s head statue. It’s a shopping district that caters to restaurateurs and chefs, although so far as I know all of the stores are also open to the public. If you could use it in a restaurant in any way, you can find it there. Chopsticks, lacquer-ware, knives, kitchen gadgets, cutlery, utensils, dishes… You name it. Oh yeah, there are also a few shops that specialize in ultra-realistic fake food.

In Japan, a very common way to advertise a restaurant’s wares is to have replicas of the food that they make set up in rows in the front window, usually alongside small placards that state the name and price. This is an indispensable tool for foreigners like myself who read very little Japanese and have difficulties with a text menu (pointing and saying, “This one please,” works well), but it’s not a marketing tactic aimed specifically at that kind of clientele. It’s just generally an attractive kind of display and effectively attracts customers. I wanted to bring all kinds of this food home as a souvenir, but it was out of my student budget at the time. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to make a return visit.

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