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What to buy in Japan? Where? Knives? Else?


Kenamoto
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I am going to: Yonago, Kyoto, Ise, Takayama, and Tokyo.  I am looking for ideas of what to buy.  I'd like to buy knives, but I know nothing about knives, and what else should I buy>

What's in Yonago? It doesn't seem like a place most foreign tourists would venture to. But since you're going to be in Tottori, anyway, Tottori has some of the best milk I've ever had in Japan. Very rich, very creamy. I'd look for some milk products out there (don't know if you'd be able to bring them back to wherever you're from, but they're still great for immediate consumption).

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In Takayama, wood products and wood dinnerware; sake; senbei; and those aka-kabu pickles would be my choices. There are also some local ceramic artists, some of whom have some interesting things, and you're not that far from Minou.

In Kyoto, along the cobblestone road leading to Kiyomizu-dera there are a ton of ceramic shops selling dinnerware and teaware. In Kyoto I do less shopping and more eating.

Although I like good knives, I'm not as obsessed with them as some people on eGullet, so I'm not sure what to recommend, but you can find decent ones almost anywhere. Even department stores have good Japanese knives, or you can hunt around Kappabashi in Tokyo.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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I am going to: Yonago, Kyoto, Ise, Takayama, and Tokyo.  I am looking for ideas of what to buy.  I'd like to buy knives, but I know nothing about knives, and what else should I buy>

To know more about Japanese kitchen knives visit this forum: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showforum.php?fid/26/

In Tokyo, Kappabashi is the place to go. This is the kitchen supplies district and there are some knife shops there. You can also pick up ceramic wares and plastic models if those catch your fancy. There are also a few knife shops around the Tsukiji market area.

In Kyoto, Aritsugu is the most famous purveyor of knives. Their shop is in the Nishiki market street.

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In Kyoto, Aritsugu is the most famous purveyor of knives. Their shop is in the Nishiki market street.

I have loved Aritsugu since I first set foot in the shop. During my first extended stay in Japan many years ago, I was much too poor to afford an Aritsugu knife (I could barely afford their maple leaf-shaped vegetable cutters), but I would go during my lunch hour and look wistfully at their knife case. Now that I'm older and I can afford a good knife, I still can't bring myself to buy one. I think sometimes lusting after something is much more fun than actually possessing it.

If you do buy a knife at Aritsugu, they will engrave it with your name right before your eyes. The engraver does a remarkable job with the roman alphabet. They also have English-speaking staff at the shop, if that's important to you.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Although I like good knives, I'm not as obsessed with them as some people on eGullet, so I'm not sure what to recommend, but you can find decent ones almost anywhere. Even department stores have good Japanese knives, or you can hunt around Kappabashi in Tokyo.

Yeah, I'm really happy with the 1,000 yen knife I bought at Muji. Sharpest knife I've ever owned, which I suppose is not saying much. But now Prasantrin has championed Aritsugu, I'll have to check it out.

Check out 100 yen shops for fun gadgets. There's a big Daiso in Harajuku, on the main shopping street, which has a large selection.

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Although I like good knives, I'm not as obsessed with them as some people on eGullet, so I'm not sure what to recommend, but you can find decent ones almost anywhere. Even department stores have good Japanese knives, or you can hunt around Kappabashi in Tokyo.

Yeah, I'm really happy with the 1,000 yen knife I bought at Muji. Sharpest knife I've ever owned, which I suppose is not saying much. But now Prasantrin has championed Aritsugu, I'll have to check it out.

Check out 100 yen shops for fun gadgets. There's a big Daiso in Harajuku, on the main shopping street, which has a large selection.

I can second Prasantrin's advice re Aritsugu. I have a 10" deba and a 8" santoku bought at their main store in Nishiki last year. I use them in preference to every other knife in the cupboard. These knives are made of soft carbon steel and require a higher degree of care and maintenence than those made from stainless steel. If you plan to own one you need to invest some time in honing up your knife-sharpening skills. Well-sharpened Japanese knives are a real joy to use and this alone justifies the investment.

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Aritsugu is a great knife shop (Nishiki market in Kyoto), but it's always busy, so the neatly-uniformed staff won't necessarily have time to explain all the variations of knives, steel used, etc. to you. It's important that you do your research and know what you want to buy ahead of time.

As mentioned in another post, you can get your name engraved on the blade. Once you've selected and paid for the knives, expect a 15-30 minute wait while they get a final sharpening/polish at one of the two sharpening-stone pools in the back of showroom, behind the pay counter. Putting up with the cramped area to watch master sharpeners hone the knives is one of the most exciting aspects, to me.

One note: Aritsugu knives have a sterling reputation, and their prices reflect that status.

I think they are superb quality cutlery.

In Tokyo, look up and go to the Masamoto shop in Tsukiji Market. It has a dizzying array of cutlery, as well, and you will see many Tokyo culinary professionals in the shop, at virtually any time of day. It's not as attractive a room as Aritsugu's, and the staff looks like they have just rolled out of bed, still wearing the same clothes as yesterday. English ability is sketchy. Masamoto knives are also of superb quality, are a tad less expensive. The sharpening pools are prominently featured out on the sidewalk in front of the shop.

My advice is, buy as many as you can afford or as customs regulations will allow. There's nothing else like quality Japanese cutlery in performance.

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As mentioned in another post, you can get your name engraved on the blade. Once you've selected and paid for the knives, expect a 15-30 minute wait while they get a final sharpening/polish at one of the two sharpening-stone pools in the back of showroom, behind the pay counter. Putting up with the cramped area to watch master sharpeners hone the knives is one of the most exciting aspects, to me.

Will they also show you how to sharpen the knives properly, or tell you how to care for the knives? I didn't notice that happening, but I was wondering if they would.

One note: Aritsugu knives have a sterling reputation, and their prices reflect that status.

I think they are superb quality cutlery.

I actually thought their prices were a little more reasonable than I remembered them to be. But that may just be because I have more money now than I did then. :smile:

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Missed buying knive in Kyoto (kids went nuts, was in Arigatsu and had to leave). Am now in Tokyo looking for knives, and a couple good cast iron tea pots. Help? Only here for a couple more days... Will try and hit Kappabashi tomorrow (4 yr old permitting...)

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Missed buying knive in Kyoto (kids went nuts, was in Arigatsu and had to leave).  Am now in Tokyo looking for knives, and a couple good cast iron tea pots.  Help?  Only here for a couple more days...  Will try and hit Kappabashi tomorrow (4 yr old permitting...)

Traveling with kids! I can be of help here. :biggrin:

It is going to be cold, windy and rainy today add a 4 year old to that mix and Kappabashi may not be a good idea. If you don't mind spending a little bit more but keep your 4 year old both happy and warm I would suggest heading to Tokyu Hands. There are a couple Tokyo locations, you should be able to find everything you need here as well as a many things you never imagined you needed. My 3 kids can spend hours here.

Saturday is going to beautiful so if you still need to head out to Kappabashi I would do it then, though I am not sure of their weekend hours.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Thanks. Will try Tokyu Hands. Went to Tsukiji, bought a knife - not sure of the quality, will have to get home to my kitchen to find out. Snapped a shot of the family in front of the store (4 yr old crying), got back to hotel to find the store keeper in the background STICKING HIS TONGUE OUT!!!! Hit Kappabashi, got a teapot (nothing special), and Ninja Shoes for said 4 yr old at Asakusa. Today, off to Tokyu Hands with 4yr old, as 6 yr old heads to Hello Kitty Land (cringe) with her father!

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Besides the knives (the knife shops I've been too will spend time with you to explain the care of the knives, so don't be too worried), the plates, shuriken, ninja outfits, suits of armour, maid and schoolgirl outfits, and the other things that you'd expect.......

bring back as much good sake as you can.

Don't stint.

Think of a way you can convince customs that the 4 year old is actually 21, that'll get you another bottle or so.

Cheers,

Peter

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