The Spirit of the Old Edo Lives On… through Shopping
They say that back in the days of the Tokugawa shogunate, the feudal lords (or daimyo) from throughout Japan would alternate spending a year in Edo (now Tokyo) and spending a year at home.
This is the sort of fact that feels like it could be, but almost certainly isn’t, related to the “antenna shops” of Tokyo.
Word is that Tokyo’s “antenna shops,” or shops dedicated to specific prefectures, began to spring up in the early 1990s. Today, these shops can be found in clusters around Tokyo, mainly in Ginza and the adjacent Yurakucho, but they can also be found in other areas of town, too: there are a few in Nihonbashi and Aoyama, as well.
These shops generally offer a selection of foods and snacks from the prefecture in question, as well as a collection of local sake and other products: for instance, Toyama’s antenna shop features tin items from Nousaku, as well as binzasara, a type of traditional musical instrument. Nara’s offers local pickled vegetables. Fukui’s offers heshiko preserved mackerel. These stores offer quite a range of items, including, in one case, wooden dressers and chests of drawers(!).
Some of these shops can be quite sizable: the one for Ishikawa, for example, is three stories(!), continuing up to the second floor and down into the basement.
Interestingly, though these are relatively prevalent in Tokyo, they can occasionally be seen elsewhere: in Kyoto and Osaka, for example, I’ve seen stores dedicated to Shiga, Okinawa, and the prefectures on the island of Shikoku.
On the other hand, I do feel like maybe Eataly in Nihonbashi doesn’t quite count as an antenna shop, as thematically appropriate as it may be.
If you can’t make it out of Tokyo, these shops are a fun way to get at least a taste of the rest of the country — or, if you miss the unique specialties of elsewhere in Japan, a taste of home.