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Photos: An eyeful for foodies in Tokyo's food district

When food freaks visit Tokyo, they steer toward Kappabashi-dori, a mile-long street sporting dozens of stores that specialize in kitchenware.

Michael Kanellos

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Behold, the great wall of pastry tips. Choose your caliber.
Although many people in Japan cook at home, eating out and entertaining in restaurants is practically a national sport.
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This store had a few hundred options for to-go containers.
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Whisk away your problems. This store dealt strictly in utensils for cooking--no ceramics or other items.
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Welcome to one of the many plastic food emporiums.
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This is the restaurant uniform store. The shop next door sold "No Smoking" and "Please Wait to be Seated" signs.
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Welcome to bowl-o-rama. This shop specialized in ceramics pots and bowls of many sizes.
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These two characters are the mascots of the street. Note the banners to the right. If you somehow manage to forget what street you're on or can't figure out the lyrics of the song, the banners will tell you.
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The same store sold teapots.
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This was the biggest wooden spoon I've ever seen. It stood four feet high.
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At this knife store, a good cleaver runs about $80.
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When computer geeks come to Japan, they head toward the electronics neighborhood called Akihabara. But when food freaks visit Tokyo, they steer toward Kappabashi-dori, a mile-plus-long street sporting several dozen stores that carry all manner of kitchenware and food. There, you can find it all: stores that specialize in ceramics; plastic food vendors; utensil vendors.
The street even has its own theme song, which plays over speakers on a constant loop. It lasts about a minute, and the words are "Kappa, Kappabashi-dori, Kappabashi-dori, Kappabashi-do-o-ri, Kap-pa-bash-i."
"Who comes to my kingdom?" This giant chef's head, atop a building several stories tall, marks the beginning of the street.
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The entrance to the street is also marked by this giant stack of coffee cups, which sits across the street from the chef's head.
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Residents of Tokyo do go nutty for a bit of flair in their food. I had one sushi chef put a squeeze of mayo on a piece of sushi and caramelize it with a blowtorch. Here are some other pieces with dyed rice. That purple one is eggplant, by the way.
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Night time dining in an alley in Shinjuku. Most of these places are gone, but they still pack in residents seeking a bit of nostalgia.
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Fruit takes a lot of land to grow and is usually imported, so it's outrageously priced. Here are tangerines going for about $3 each, pomegranates for $12 each and Asian pears for $21 each. Granted, this shot was taken at a posh department store, but you even see $20 cantaloupes at the corner market.
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Early morning at the Tskiji fish market. It's the world's biggest fish market and takes place every weekday before 5. Here, middlemen are bargaining over tuna. There is a huge vegetable market, an outdoor kitchenware market and a lot of sushi bars and noodle stands open early there too.
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Fresh squid at Tskiji. You can also get octopus, live unagi and live flounder.
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You can leave this fish (also made of plastic) in the sunlight for a week and it won't go bad.

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