Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by ACHiPo, Jan 8, 2019.
Just let the universe guide your feet and it will take you somewhere interesting.
In Kyoto on the way in, I literally tripped over this place the first day of wandering around block where we stayed:
And I was SO happy- There must be stores like this EVERYWHERE in Japan, if I found one so quickly! So, I figured I'd hold onto my cash, get through the ISF conference at Omagari and then spend whatever mad money was left at such stores on the way out of the country in Tokyo. Big mistake.
I never found another such wonderful specialty store with the proprietor on site and happy to explain tools & show off the wares to a couple of gaijan , just department stores with a few (pretty, but expensive knives) and one overpriced "tourist" place in a mall where prices were much higher than in USA and stock was geared towards flashy rather than utilitarian... They're NOT on every block. Or even in most shopping districts.
I had little luck finding a dedicated cuttlery store in Tokyo on the way out of Japan, Spring of 2017. But I was with someone who had planned an itinerary of palaces, temples, museums- ("culturally relevant" stuff- Yeah, like knives are not part of the culture?!), she resisted "just hanging out in knife stores".
I trust my eye and hands on quality fit and finish. I don't, however, have a feel yet for the knife market, which is why I'm a bit apprehensive. I bought a nakiri for $40 delivered that has not-so-great fit and finish, yet the cutting action once I sharpened it properly is great. I guess I'll trust my gut. I have zero interest in having my name engraved, and don't really care that much about any engraving. I appreciate craftsmanship, and really value a tough blade that will stay sharp for a long time, but that's pretty tough to assess by eye and feel.
Chef Doom, I like it! Thank you very much!
I've been to Kyoto. Seeing Shigeharu would be fun. Kyoto is even further than Takefu, though. Still doable on the shinkasen.
Thank you for that link! Wow I was off base! I thought I'd located Takefu close to gifu. Will need to save that for another trip, although I will be in Kaga on Monday, but doubt I'll have time to swing by.
Is this the place--Aritsugo Knives?
Oh, I was going to suggest the shop on Ikezaki Street, but didn't know the name. I've been in a couple times--the guy there seems nice and speaks a little English. He had some Misonos (without dragons), and some VG10 and carbon stuff. I took a friend who was visiting, and she bought a couple knives from him.
In general, I'll agree with Ken and say that Japan doesn't seem like the kind of place where there are a lot of people trying to overcharge foreigners. It's often difficult to know the maker of a line of knives (many places have their own house brands, without revealing the maker). You can probably find out the steel and hardness, but there might not be a lot more info available, and in some places, they may not speak much English.
If OP is at all interested in sharpening stones, Morihei in Tokyo would also be worth a look. One of the guys who works there (can't remember his name) had very good English, and was very patient showing and describing different stones. They also have some knives, but their stone collection is far more impressive. I believe they've got a lot more than what's out on the main display, so if you know the type of stone you're looking for, you will probably have some good options.
Todd,Thanks. This is great info. I thought about stones, but the only thing I’m really in the market for is a splash and go for stropping in the kitchen. Not looking for a natural stone or anything exotic.
I received this response from Takefu Village. It looks like I will go to Takefu Village after all. According to the trip planner link they provided it is a 2 hour bullet train ride with one connection from Shin-Yokohama, and I can take a sharpening class on Sunday with a translator for $74.
Thank you for your message!
The sharpening course is available on Sunday, 20th. We need to arrange a translator to make better understanding and avoid any accidents. We hope you would accept this point.
The total cost would be ¥8,000
・¥6,000 for the lesson
・¥2,000 for the translator
If this is OK for you, we'll secure your spot. We hope to hear from you soon!
The nearest station for our building is "Takefu" station. From Shin-Yokohama, taking "Bullet train " to "Maibara" or "Kyoto", then transfer to the Limited express to "Takefu" would be the easy way.
You can check through this site: https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/
Route Search - Japan Transit Planner | Norikae Annai
You can use English to search for the nation's railways, aircraft routes (train time, fares, time required) as well as to understand the detail information such as the ticket fare, IC card fares, express train costs, etc.
Well, maybe not. While travel from Shin-Yokohama isn't bad, I just checked travel time from Takefu to Haneda (where I need to be Sunday night) and it's over 3 hours with many transfers. Not sure I'm up for that on my own (i.e. without someone that speaks/reads Japanese). Yikes. Maybe Kyoto or Osaka instead after all.
No. Not Artisugo- But that one looks way cool for kitchen knives too.
Place I found first day wandering 'round Kyoto was Shigeharu.
Shigeharu had a good range of serious working chef knives, but they ALSO had a very comprehensive collection of woodworking tools.
They displayed the types of traditional saws, chisels amd planes used for Japanese style post and beam framing, cabinets and trim work. I semi competently butcher wood, this was the nicest collection of such tools I have seen in a store EVER.
I've been gardening since 1975, have worked for a landscape company for a couple of summers too.
Shigeharu displayed gardening and bonsai tools as well, these included tools which were working pieces of fine art.
The guy who runs that store knows what he is doing across the entire spectrum of traditional cutting tools.
Shigeharu is so worth a visit.
It's been around for over 500 years and is the last Kyo-hamano forging in Kyoto.
The gentleman you met is the 24th generation in his family to run the business.
He's also the last in the family line.
The forge is behind the shop and Shigeharu-san and his wife live upstairs.
It's easy to see the company's history of supporting Kyoto crafts by the focus on woodworking, gardening and textile tools.
Shigeharu-san told me santokus are by far the most popular knives he makes.
I picked up a cool little 210mm yanagiba.
The knife I selected had no markings or handle.
Shigeharu-san let me pick out a handle and then took the blade back to the forge to burn it on.
Cost with an upgraded handle was around Y12,000, so not precious at all.
This is Shigeharu-san engraving both our names on my knife.
As you discovered, it's much easier to travel to Kyoto, than to Takefu, because of the shinkansen schedules.
FYI, Shigeharu is closed on Sundays.
If you go to Osaka you can do Tower Knives and knife shops in the Sennichimae Doguyasuji kitchenware district.
Sennichimae Doguyasuji is next to Dotonburi so you can get your tourist pictures and food graze on too!
Yes the Sennichimae shotengai is the Osaka equivalent of Tokyo's Kappabashi for cookingware/knives etc. I remember walking into the Takashimaya dept store across the street to get directions because I couldn't find the entrance.
Definitely worth seeing if in Osaka. Which can be combined with Kyoto if you have the time as express train gets you to Kyoto like in 30 min if I recall correctly.
I recommend seeing Aritsugu in Kyoto because the Nishiki Ichiba (market) where they are located is a marvel of food items for anyone with interest in Japanese cuisine by itself.
I'm now thinking about checking out of my hotel at Shin-Yokohama Saturday morning after visiting TF, take the Shinkasen to Kyoto and get there by 1:00 or so, stop by Shigeharu and maybe Aritsugu, then get to Takefu for the night. Take the sharpening class as soon as they open, then get to Haneda.
Do it, if you really want to go to Takefu.
I'd just chill in Kyoto/Osaka. It's so much easier to get up to Haneda.
I've never had a hard time getting around Japan by train.
You can buy your train tickets from Kyoto to Takefu and Takefu to Haneda the same time you buy your Shinkansen ticket to Kyoto. The staff at the JR ticket office will take care of you. Just tell them your entire itinerary when you buy the Shinkansen ticket to Kyoto.
It's not that I'm that hung up on visiting Takefu, but the fact that I can take a sharpening lesson (translated) now makes it a priority. That's awesome to get your endorsement of the JR office! My experience traveling in Japan has been very positive, but I've always had someone local as a guide. This will be my first time on my own. Hopefully I don't need to pick specific times when I get my tickets at Shin-Yokohama?
I'm now thinking I'll travel down to Kyoto early Saturday afternoon, then head up to the Takefu area Saturday night. A little northwest of Takefu there are hot spring resorts that look pretty interesting. I can then hit Takefu early Sunday (they open at 9:00) and either head back to Haneda Sunday afternoon, or maybe just stay in the area and take a train up to Toyama which is where I need to be Monday morning.
It's starting to come together. Not quite as Chef Doom zen-like, but there will still be a quite a bit of improvising.
Now, how to get all those blades home?!
One other question--do the small knife shops take Visa or Apple Pay, or will I need a bunch of cash?
TF takes cards but many don't.
Aritsugu, for example, is a high volume knife shop catering to tourists and it is famously cash only.
Banks are a pain and the FOREX changers are a rip off.
Find an ATM network for your debit card and just take out cash as you need it.
7-11 convenience stores have ATMs that are set up to work with most foreign card networks so one can usually get cash there.
ATM is my go-to when purchasing foreign currency whilst traveling. Just remember there's a fixed fee for each transaction so better to take more out than less.
Yep learned about ATM advantages a long time ago. The only problem is that it can sometimes take a few stops to find one that takes my cards. Charles Schwab refunds all ATM fees, which is pretty nice especially for international travel. Given that Visa charges ~1.5% forex fee, cash is not a bad way to go for personal purchases.
I use my Chase Sapphire credit card abroad for non cash purchases. No foreign transaction fees.
As I mentioned previously, 7-11 convenience stores have good ATM machines for foreign banks.
Years ago, 7-11 figured out that providing ATMs that work for tourists is good business in Japan...
I came across one other interesting shop in Kyoto--Yoshisada hamono.
The kitchen knives seem like pretty good prices--~$140 - $190. Some of the tactical knives and other pieces seem kinda high? Can anyone tell if the kitchen knives are honyaki or sanmai? It kinda looks like they have a hamon, but it's hard to believe you can buy a honyaki for $200?
I've actually been to that shop. Wifey wanted to see Rengeoin Sanjusangendo temple.
That knife shop is on the walk from Shichijo Station to the temple.
I didn't see anything worth a special trip but if you want to see a temple with 1001 buddhas then take a look....
Thanks. Your comment about "special" is why I doubt my ability to tell a good deal from a not-so-good deal in Japan. Looking at the pictures the fit-finish of the Yoshisada Hamono knives looked good, and the blades look interesting at decent prices. What guidance can you give me about looking for something special? The stainless steak knives on my list will definitely not be special, but I hope to find some unique (style, as steel doesn't really matter for the application) ones probably at Aritsugu or maybe even a SOGO in Tokyo or Kanazawa. The Kogatana on my list I should be able to pick up just about anywhere.
I'm questioning visiting TF at this point. When I first looked at the location, I thought it was really close to Yokohama, but it's an hour each way Saturday morning, which will take away from time in Kyoto. What is it about TF that makes it the first-recommended place to visit for knives?
Because its only safe place to buy TF knife.
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