In Tokyo, where to buy crafts from the hinterlands Essay

In Tokyo, where to buy crafts from the hinterlands

If a trip to Japan doesn’t allow you time to venture far from
Tokyo, you can still see and shop for the best handicrafts and other
wares produced in 25 of the least-visited prefectures–jurisdictions
that are roughly akin to our states. The ninth floor of the Daimaru
department store, which opens directly off the lobby of the main Tokyo
railway station just east of the Imperial Palace complex, houses the
sales showrooms of 10 prefectures. Next door to the north, Hotel
Kokusai Kanko has 15 more on its second, third, and fourth floors.

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In both places, the showrooms’ windows bear stylized maps with
prefecture locations and little graphic images to suggest wares
you’ll find inside. Some showrooms display industrial equipment
and precision instruments, too. But the main attractions are very
portable crafts, foods, and other souvenirs.

Prices are reasonable, starting at just a few dollars and rarely
topping $50. Handsome ceramic crocks from Tokushima hold sake ($6 to
$12). Enticing tableware includes small ceramic braziers from Gifu
(under $10), carved wood sake cups (under $2) and plates ($16) from
Ehime, bamboo crafts from Oita, bizenware ceramics from Okayama,
lacquerware from Fukushima. From Miyagi, you’ll see sets of finely
carved calligraphy pens ($20 to $60). Wine lovers can take home a
Riesling from Yamagata for $12 or an Akita apple wine for $8.

Daimaru is open from 10 to 7 Thursdays through Tuesdays. Hours at
Kokusai Kanko are 9 to 5 on weekdays, 9 to noon on Saturdays.

Photo: Department store opens off lobby of Tokyo’s main rail
station. But regional wares on the ninth floor

Photo: Porcelain-and-brocade dolls merit close inspection; prices
range from $15 to $50


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