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Thread: Knife hunting in Japan - any advice?

  1. #1
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    Knife hunting in Japan - any advice?

    So I am going to Tokyo around the end of the month, it's not the first time for me there, but it certainly the first time since I have such a strong interest in...

    So first, where would you go shopping in Tokyo?

    Second - the most interesting one, I should be able to keep 2 days completely free to go knife hunting or should I say for my knife quest?

    So the question is: in which area would you go?
    I was thinking of going to the sakai area, as it's easily accessible and seems to be knife heaven for the first day. And the second day, maybe Takefu? The knives originating from there seems to get a lot of love from this forum

    So yeah the question really, is where should I go look for unicorns?

  2. #2
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    well ill tell you one thing, don't go out to sakai on a saturday all the shops will be closed.

  3. #3
    i went to sakai in may. unless you're really keen on one of the brands there, it's not really worth visiting. most of the brands there only have distribution centers. not every brand has nice red carpeted shops with glass cabinets and a polishing wheel etc. it's not as romantic as you might be inclined to think. there's really no foot traffic walking into stores to buy knives. you'll probably be the only person there.

    can't say much about takefu but i reckon the region where the knives garner the most praise would be sanjo in niigata. shigefusa, heiji, watanabe are all there but again, i don't know for sure if they have stores (probably not). if i could go watch them forge, that might be cool but i don't imagine they'll just let anyone.

    so you might be spending a good few hours on a train just to go to a small town with not much else and with no guarantee you'll find what you want.

    seki city (not sakai) has a knife festival in october i think. that might be interesting.

    otherwise, i'd plan a holiday first and bother about knives later. shopping at kappabashi/tsukiji might be enough for you. within tokyo, there are also a few makers that might pique your interest. there's a google map of a lot of japanese knifemakers out there.

  4. #4
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    Also, Sakai isn't a simple day trip from Tokyo. There is plenty of amazing knife shopping in Tokyo, right near most of the best tourist spots. There are a dozen retailers on or just off Kappabashi-Dori (aka "Kitchen Town") that specialize in knives; among my favourites are Union Commerce and Tsubaya. Kappabashi is a fascinating place to visit if you are into cooking, prep or the food service industry, and it is a few minutes on foot away from the Sensoji Temple complex. Just across the river over the Asakusa bridge you will find Masamoto-Sōhonten's "head office" which has a beautiful shop. However, nobody speaks any English there, and the prices are strictly full retail -- you'll get a better deal on Masamoto knives at Union Commerce.

    Make sure you take advantage of your jet lag to get up at 3:00 am and head down to the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Market (popularly known as Tsukiji) to get in line for a chance to attend the early morning tuna auctions, followed by an amazing sushi breakfast in Building 6 at one of the famous sushi bars -- be prepared to queue for a bit, even at 6:00 am! After brekkie, the outer market itself is brilliant, and once again you will find several specialist knife shops that are always very busy rehandling knives for cooks and fish sellers from across the vast market as well as around town. Here you'll encounter Masamoto Tsukiji, Aritsugu, Sugimoto and a few others.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDispossessed View Post
    well ill tell you one thing, don't go out to sakai on a saturday all the shops will be closed.
    Never thought of that one, that makes sense as these are not retail stores. I'm not exactly the planning type as you can see

    @kpnv: I love my sakai yusuke gyuto, and would be curious to check out sakai konosuke as it seems highly rated here as well.But yeah, as you say I was imagining it to be a bit more 'welcoming'

    @SameGuy: Thanks for the info, I will definitely go check out kappabashi,I am also looking for other cookware.

    Speaking of having 2 days completely free, I mean that I have 2 days to roam around Japan, as I will have a JR pass as well. So I'm just wondering where would be a good place to go to visit, eat some local specialities and hopefully check out some knives at the same time? Also interested in other craft-works such as chopsticks, cast iron cookware, etc...

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by SameGuy View Post
    Also, Sakai isn't a simple day trip from Tokyo.
    Yes. Be aware it'll cost you over $300 in train fares, and a minimum of 4 hours each way to get from Tokyo to Sakai.

    Quote Originally Posted by kpnv View Post
    i went to sakai in may. unless you're really keen on one of the brands there, it's not really worth visiting. most of the brands there only have distribution centers. not every brand has nice red carpeted shops with glass cabinets and a polishing wheel etc. it's not as romantic as you might be inclined to think. there's really no foot traffic walking into stores to buy knives. you'll probably be the only person there.
    Yes. Probably the only two places worth visiting are Tadatsuna and Konosuke. The store in the "knife museum" (more like a museum in a knife store) is worth a visit if you're looking for something flashy and don't mind paying for it. I don't want to say too much about my experience because it was over 4 years ago and I'm not sure how much has changed.

    If you're still dead set on going, this will help you get the lay of the land. Based on 4 year old information, but aside from Konosuke's new store which is literally nextdoor to the old one, I don't think too much has changed: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sh...hp?tid/873845/

    If I had two days in Tokyo I'd be damned to spend 1 second in a knife store. Go to Kamakura! Go to Nikko! You can buy almost anything online nowadays.

  7. #7
    Didn't see your post before I responded... I type slow.

    Quote Originally Posted by apathetic View Post
    I love my sakai yusuke gyuto, and would be curious to check out sakai konosuke as it seems highly rated here as well.But yeah, as you say I was imagining it to be a bit more 'welcoming'
    Konosuke would be your best bet for a welcoming, personal experience - they speak English too. Unless things have changed radically with the new store, when I was there, they let me pick out a handle and watch them install it. Still, Sakai is a very industrial town. There is nearly nothing in the way of culture or cuisine (unless you're interested in burial mounds).


    Quote Originally Posted by apathetic View Post
    So I'm just wondering where would be a good place to go to visit, eat some local specialities and hopefully check out some knives at the same time? Also interested in other craft-works such as chopsticks, cast iron cookware, etc...
    If you really want to do all that in one place, go to Nara. It's a really beautiful town with amazing temples, like what people imagine Kyoto should be (yes, Kyoto has even more amazing sites, but they're like islands in a sea of concrete). Kikuichi has a store there, which is touristy and over priced, but you'll get everything you want in a very manageable day.

    What are you interested in seeing, and when will you be there?

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the info spaceconvoy, the link you put up is especially useful!

    I am going to Tokyo near the end of the month, will be working there for several days then will have several days completely free. Haven't worked out exactly where I want to go yet, but I am getting a JR pass which means I can pretty much go anywhere of interest. Your link definitely makes it interesting to go see sakai, although it's not set in stone.
    I only recently found out that I'm going there, so I haven't had the time to think thoroughly where I want to go yet. Although I already know I want to take advantage of all the good food
    A part from the materialistic aspect of things, I am curious to go a bit off the beaten path, to get a more 'authentic' experience to Japan. It's not my first time there so I've already been to the touristy spots around Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Any suggestions?

  9. #9
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    Knife shops in Tokyo, including less common brands like Azuma Minamoto, Monzaburo, Sadayasu as well as the usual suspects.

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid...008f2062&msa=0

  10. #10
    If you want good price for your knife, just find them at rakuten or some speciality store, and deliver to your hotel. That would be the cheapest way.

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