Tokyo's Kichijoji area is a suburb known for Inokashira Park's rich greenery, and easy access from the city center. While Kichijoji has made its name as a popular tourism destination, it is also highly regarded as having one of Tokyo's most desirable residential areas.
This article introduces 4 stores in Kichijoji that sell Japan-made, colorful tableware to add some flavor to your everyday dinner table! Many of them are genuine antiques, and are often quite affordable too.
The tableware you find in Kichijoji, Tokyo will make great gifts, home decors, and memorabilia for your travels!
Kichijoji: Your go-to Neighborhood for Plates, Bowls & Tableware
Easy reach from central Tokyo -- Kichi-joji is always packed with visitors
The Kichijoji area has long been popular as the best place to live in Tokyo. It is also increasingly popular with tourists. Unlike its counterparts of Shinjuku and central Tokyo, Kichijoji has always been viewed as a quieter town with a more down to earth feel.
Kichijoji is a shopper’s delight. Handmade knickknacks and dishes can be found in stores tucked away from the main shopping drag. Local residents regularly visit these shops in search of small items to spruce up their homes.
Hunting for Plates & Tableware in Kichijoji
Enjoy hunting for tableware at Kichijoji
We have selected four tableware shops in Kichijoji that offer more than Japan-made items for everyday use some stores also carry handcrafted tools from other regions of Japan, while others run cozy cafes.
1.Tsumikusa: Tableware and Tools
Our first pick is “Tsumikusa” which specializes in dishes and domestically produced lifestyle products.
Step inside the lovely wooden entrance to explore the vast selection of handcrafted goods and ceramics made by young potters.
Tsumikusa boasts one of the largest selections in Tokyo
All the products have been directly sourced from various parts of Japan, ranging from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.
Kitchen brushes, brooms, and wooden baskets are tastefully displayed on the old wooden shelves along with the plates.
Bamboo baskets from Okinawa are a rarity thesedays. The shopkeeper searched for years before finding an artisan supplier
Skilled and aging artisans created many of the handcrafted goods. Sadly, many of these traditional skills are on the verge of dying out due to a lack of successors. Many of these items are hard to find elsewhere so it is worth scrutinizing the shelves.
Summer inspired display. Items change according to the season.
We visited in mid-summer and the displays included windchimes, glass tableware and other summer inspired goods..
In the fall and winter, the shelves are lined with clay pots and items normally used in colder temperatures. All the pieces are directly shipped from the kilns. Some are created by a younger generation of potters. The lovely dishes are perfect for home use and as gifts.
Various handicrafts from all over Japan
Discover Traditional Toys from around Japan
Besides tableware, Tsumikusa is passionate about traditional toys. The store offers a wide selection of traditional folk toys from various parts of Japan.
cute folk toys
Kyoto's Fushimi dolls are said to be the oldest of such toys. Other famous toys include the nodding red cows of Fukushima, which are popular souvenirs.
On this day, we spotted a lot of hariko (papier-mâché figurines) from central and southern Japan. These cute and colorful figures are sure to brighten up any room. Young artists created the modern and stylish ones.
A visit to Tsumikusa is almost like a treasure hunt. Take your time and cherish your discoveries.
「Vada antiques」is inside a residential area
Vada antiques is about a four-minute walk from Kichijoji station’s east exit. It is in the basement of a quiet residential area building. This store mainly offers Yachimun pottery from Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa.
Rice bowls popular with foreigners, partly because the patterns resemble Mt Fuji
The shopkeeper Mr Wada once had a store elsewhere in Tokyo that specialized in European antiques.
He explained to how Okinawa pottery found a place in his shop.
“It all started when I met a potter in Hokkaido, which is where I’m originally from. This person had learned pottery in Okinawa for 12 years and created dynamic pieces with a warm feeling. That’s my first encounter with Yachimun pottery. “
Since then, Mr Wada’s began introducing Yachimun pottery to his store.
The shop also sells carved wooden bears from Hokkaido.
Mr Wada relocated his store to Kichijoji in 2013, and began focusing more on Yachimun pottery. Mr Wada traveled to Okinawa to directly purchase Yachimun pieces from local potters. Mr Wada’s shop showcases many unique pieces created with love and care.
Vintage furniture purchased from Europe
Spice up your dining table with one-off yachimun plates
Mr Wada helped create some of the ceramic designs. The dishes are rather bulky but have dynamic patterns that are visually appealing. Some of them are one-only pieces.
Large yachimun plates make any meal look special
Mr Wada says that 85.5 % of our feelings about food are based on appearance. Yachimun ceramics have an energetic and warm feel that will instantly transform any home cooked meal into a comforting feast.
Discover this trick for yourself by picking up a charming yachimun dish at Yada antiques.
3. Variety Lifestyle Store: Shippo
Shippo is about a 10-minute walk from Kichijoji’s east exit. It is nestled inside a wide residential area outside the shopping arcade.
Look for the minimalist signboard
Second-hand tableware displayed at the storefront
Shippo offers a variety of items, including Japanese tableware, traditional and contemporary household items, and furniture such as lampshades.
Colorful dishes are displayed outside the shop. Step inside for more tableware, and kitchen goods from famous Japanese brands. We also found cute imported cups.
A shoppers’ delight: many kitchen products and knickknacks. Even clothes!
The items were selected by the staff to match the shop’s ambience. All of the items have a universal appeal and will help spruce up one’s lifestyle.
Chopstick rests from Fukushima. Each with different faces
The store originally was placed inside a corner of another furniture and home décor business. The tiny space back then was just about the size of four tatami mats, which is where the store gets its name. “Shippo” means four steps in Japanese.
The owner Mr Miyazaki is an expert on furniture and home décor and the store repairs furniture too. If you have any broken furniture, this is the perfect place to seek help.
A quiet lunch spot
Perfect space to relax
Shippo is a lovely place to shop and savor good food. The shop’s café serves heart-warming lunch meals.
The shop’s dishes are sometimes used to serve the lunch of the day
Enjoy a relaxing time at the café before exploring the shop. It is a wonderful space full of items aimed to enrich everyday life.
Daily lunch set (photo credit: Shippo)
4.Kichi-joji PukuPuku Nishi-koen mae shop
Now let us take you to “Kichijoji PukuPuku” which runs two shops in the area. They boast a wide selection of dishes produced during the Edo to Showa era. It has a reputation for selling affordable antique dishes.
We visited both outlets to find out why they are popular with tableware collectors.
Kichi-joji PukuPuku Nishi-koen mae shop
Popular store to buy Edo-era tableware
PukuPuku Nishi Koen-mae outlet is PukuPuku’s original store at Nakamichi street. It is about an eight-minute walk away from the east exit of Kichijoji station.
Look for the large water pots and beautiful indigo plates displayed at the entrance.
Porcelain galore inside the store
PukuPuku is a treasure trove of antique dishes. Many of the items were created during the Edo period, more than two to three hundred years ago.
The blue and white pieces are Ko-imari porcelain, or traditional Imari ware.
The vintage Japanese porcelains are well preserved and retain their original vibrant colors.
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Colorful tableware used for celebrations
Many items were kept inside traditional homes and storehouses across Japan for generations. The shopkeeper found them at vintage markets.
Notice how the dishes piled up on the store’s shelves are identical. This is because traditional Japanese meals required many plates as food was usually shared among large numbers of diners.
Many laquer ware pieces with lids. The lids can be used separately as small plates.
The shop owner and staff examine the colors and patterns of a dish to identify the production period.
Many of the pale colored porcelain date back to the Edo period. Different paints were applied thereafter meaning the vibrantly colored plates were produced during and after the Meiji era. Other factors, such as the glaze and the base, help determine when a certain plate was produced.
It is also worth noting that Edo period ceramics were hand painted, and no two pieces are exactly the same. Have fun examining each piece and find your favorite patterm.
Kichijoji PukuPuku - Nakamichi Dori street shop
Furniture and porcelain displayed at the storefront
PukuPuku’s other shop is at Nakamichi dori street, which is about a six-minute walk from Kichijoji station’s east exit
It is about three minutes away from the original store.
The newer store is sure to lure you in with its shelves full of Japanese porcelain.
Charming second-hand furniture
This store has more contemporary pieces than the original store. Many of the items were produced after the late 18th century, from the Meiji to Showa era. Along with porcelain and ceramics, the store also carries lacquer ware and glassware.
Nostalgic Showa era glassware
Many of the items are reasonably priced. A more than century old piece is priced at 500 yen, which is a bargain considering its age.
For those seeking affordable vintage tableware, there are many options if you seek out contemporary items.
Colors and thickness tell the age of the dish
As mentioned earlier, Edo-era pieces were mostly hand-painted. Traditional Japanese indigo tableware underwent a major change during the following Mejji era, which started in the late 19th century,
Around that time, heat was used to transfer patterns onto the ceramics. This method eliminated laborious hand painting and paved the way for mass production. Also, more colors were introduced, resulting in more colorful dishes.
The cute pop-displays placed throughout the shop are meant to encourage shoppers to enjoy vintage tableware
Common patterns used in Japanese Traditional Tableware
Nowadays, dishes with simple patterns and colors are more popular. However, traditional Japanese tableware used many different typical patterns. Different dishes are used according to the occasion and season. Even today, many Japanese households use colorful tableware to serve their New Year meals.
Let’s take a look at one traditional Japanese design.
■Vol.1 Classic Japanese pattern: the jumping frog and weeping willlow
This plate design shows a frog and a drooping willow tree. At first glance, it seems like a scene depicting Japan’s early summer rainy season.
However, this pattern carries a hidden story.
Plate with weeping willow and frog pattern
Let us step back in time to the Heian era, which began around the 9th century and ended in the early 12th century. The story is about the master calligrapher Ono-no Tofu, during his days as a struggling artist. He was never satisfied with his work and lacked confidence.
One rainy day, he went out for a walk to clear his mind. He spotted a frog trying to reach the drooping leaves of a willow tree. As he observed the frog, he realized that he too should not give up and continue his calligraphy work.
This classic Japanese tale has been handed down over the generations and has inspired people to never give up despite their repeated failures. The story was eventually applied to tableware art and a similar scene is depicted in traditional hanafuda play-cards.
Willows depicted on traditional playcards
Visit Kichi-joji, a treasure trove of antique tableware
Japanese porcelain is more than simply pretty tableware. Look behind the surface to truly appreciate this art form. The patterns have a story. Each piece is the result of tedious work by potters.
Kichi-joji is a wonderland to discover and learn about Japanese tableware and antique goods. If you visit this part of Tokyo, be sure to stop by at the four shops mentioned in this article. Friendly shopkeepers will be more than happy to help you find an item to treasure for years to come.