Denboin Street (also called Denboin-dori) is a quaint, old-fashioned shopping street that runs from the west side of Nakamise Street for about 200 meters.
Denboin Street is very well preserved, with many traditional shop buildings dating date back a hundred years or more. This is a great location for finding some unique souvenirs while enjoying the atmosphere of old Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Many of the shops here have been in the same family for generations, and sell hand-crafted goods, foods, and accessories that you can only buy in Asakusa. The street is also quite wide which makes it a more relaxing space after visiting the busy and crowded Nakamise.
Here are some highlights from this area:
There are a lot of stores on Denboin selling beautiful folding fans suitable for both ladies and gentlemen.
Among the souvenir shops, kanzashi hair pins are a popular product.
The Yonoya store specializes in high quality combs made from Japanese boxwood. Boxwood combs produce almost no static when used (unlike plastic or metal combs), and they are believed to be tender on both your hair and scalp. Dipping the comb in camellia oil before use will also add a natural luster to your hair. These combs are finely crafted objects that become more beautiful with time as their amber color deepens. Yonoya also sells kanzashi hairpins, netsuke kimono toggles, and other accessories carved from boxwood.
Yamatomi is a traditional Japanese clothing store, selling silk kimono, cotton yukata (a kind of light summer kimono), haori jackets, kimono fabrics, traditional footwear, and folding fans.
Asakusa Ojima is a famous store on Denboin which sells traditional Edo-kiriko style cut glassware. Fine hand-crafted glasses, bottles, dishes, vases, and accessories are all available and make for very special souvenirs.
Not all the stores on Denboin sell traditional Japanese goods. Marumi is a high quality gentleman’s clothing store, selling Western style clothing and accessories. Shop here for stylish sweaters, shirts, jackets, neckties and ascot ties.
Liszt is an unusual combination of a sweets shop with a commercial art gallery. In the same space you will find an array of graphic art products accompanied by pound cake, sandwich cookies, and gourmet chocolates flavored with orange peel, lemon peel, or pecan nuts.
While strolling up and down Denboin, look out for Chingodo Shrine. Situated on the north side of the street, its small entrance is easily missed. Although it is not one of Asakusa’s major sightseeing spots, Chingodo is a peaceful spot and well worth a moment of your time. Chingodo is open every day and free to enter.
Denboin Street is named after the nearby Denboin of Sensoji Temple, which is the temple abbot’s residence. The residence itself is usually closed to the public, but the stroll garden of Denboin is usually opened to the public for a limited period each spring.
Denboin runs east to west and is located on the west side of Nakamise. It is a convenient spot to visit after visiting Sensoji Temple. Here is a map showing the location.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.