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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Buying a Kitchen Knife in Japan

In my household, my husband is the cook. It works perfectly because he actually likes cooking and I'm pretty bad at it. So we have this agreement in our house that he does the cooking and I do the clean-up after. Work for me! So when we went to Japan in November of 2016, he knew he wanted to leave the country with a Japanese chef knife. Yes, I'm talking about one of those huge, sharp knives that I'm terrified of chopping my finger off with.

We were enjoying Kyoto at the time when he came across the urge to look for a knife. I honestly don't know how he found this knife shop on his phone since I tried looking for it and Google maps is telling me that the location is unknown. I guess it is such a small shop that it doesn't register on Google maps. If you are interested in trying to find it for yourself, it's located near Nijo Castle in Nakagyo Ward of Kyoto, Japan (that's the best I can do for you).
The front of the tiny knife shop.
Anyway, we found this tiny knife shop and discovered an art form. The shop was run by a husband and wife duo. The wife would help the customers pick out their tool (I say this because they sold scissors and farming tools too) while the husband mostly stayed in the back making the tools himself. It was really cool to see all these tools that this older man made himself.
Hand-made blades for the scissors.
My husband wanted an all-purpose kitchen knife, something that could be used to cut all kinds of food. In Japanese, this knife is called a santoku knife (santoku bouchou 三徳包丁). We explained to the wife what we were looking for, how we wanted a knife for cutting meat, vegetables and other foods we would cook. She directed our attention to a glass case with several knives to choose from. She even took a few knives out for my husband to try out. My husband took a while choosing the right knife for himself, but was very happy with his purchase.
Look at all those knifes! And other tools.
He really loved the knife he chose, and the wife could tell. She was so moved by my husband's enthusiasm for kitchen knives that she asked her husband who made the knife to come out and introduce himself. It was a really great experience to meet this old couple even though they only spoke Japanese. I understood enough of what was said and my husband really appreciated their gesture to greet us. It was even more surprising when the husband who made the knife started to wrap the knife we purchased. He was so precise in the way he wrapped the box the knife came in. Everything about it was like an art form. This couple took pride in their shop.
getting our knife wrapped.
If you are looking to buy a nice kitchen knife from Japan, expect to dish out some money. These knives are not cheap, especially if they come from a specialty shop like this one we went to. The knife we purchased was about $120.00 USD, or 12,000 yen. We were told to only use soap and water to clean the knife by hand. It is of great quality so it was well worth the cost. Just make sure you specify what you will be using the knife. For example, cutting through meat bones requires a different knife capable of that action.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Maybe buying a Japanese kitchen knife will be on of your souvenirs to yourself someday, if not already. Thank you so much for reading! For more Japan related content or just to chat with me, follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Until next time!