Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Just a short walk away from Asakusa, Kappabashi is a great place to spend an afternoon among a joyful chaos of stores specializing in all sorts of kitchenware, and a must-visit destination for visitors looking to pick up world-class Japanese knives.

Over 100 Years of History

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Kappabashi Dogu-gai (Kappabashi Kitchenware Street) has been a center of commerce related to tools for over a century, and is one of the best places in Tokyo to find cool (not to mention useful) souvenirs. The two main streets are stocked to the brim with everything from super-realistic food samples to ramen shop signs, pots big enough to make curry for 100 people, dainty sake cups, chopsticks in every color of the rainbow… and knives.

Kamata Hakensha: Knives Galore

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Located around the middle of Kappabashi, this little shop is heaven for both amateur and professional cooks, as it stocks a huge range of Japanese and Western-style knives, each individually checked (and sharpened!) by the owner. The staff speak decent English and are really good at helping you find the right knife for your needs and ability.

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From the window you can watch Seiichi Kamata (the owner and third-generation craftsman) engraving names on the knives (a rather cool touch, especially if the blade is a gift) or restoring the razor-sharp edges of the implements used by top chefs around the city.

With almost four decades of experience, his fingers can detect the slightest imperfection in the metal, invisible to the naked eye. During a recent visit, he spoke of the intense training his son (the fourth generation) underwent under both his tutelage and that of the master knife makers in Sakai City, Osaka, in order to ensure that he too will gain this level of craftsmanship.

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As many of the knives are completely handmade, they’re priced accordingly. However, the shoo does have a nice range of light but sturdy stainless steel kitchen knives that are very reasonable, as well as other unusual choices (my favorite being a pair of scissors with a cherry blossom motif).

Be sure to check out the Japanese-style knives decorated with flowers, leaves and dreamy wave patterns, which look almost too pretty to use!

www.kap-kam.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

Kyoto’s rich history even extends to its many shops and these shinise, or historic shops, are some of the Kyoto’s oldest. In fact, these three fan shops are among Japan’s most historic, with some dating as far back as the 17th century!

3. Aiba

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Aiba has been continuously selling traditional Japanese fans since 1689. Although they specialize in more traditional styles, the shop continues to be innovative. One of the more modern styles they’ve created is a transparent fan that gives the suggestion of delivering cool air while remaining quite stylish. These round fans were historically used within the Imperial Court during the Edo Period. They’re artfully crafted, featuring natural scenery, people or poetry, cast in block print, dye or raised cloth.

Aiba is situated in downtown Kyoto between Sanjo-dori and Shijo-dori on quiet Yanagi no Bamba Street.

www.kyoto-kankou.or.jp

2. Miyawaki Baisenan

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Established in 1823, Miyawaki Baisenan specializing in the iconic Japanese folding fan. You can shop to your heart’s content on the first floor, but don’t miss the second floor, which features an exhibit on the history of Japanese fans. Baisenan sells fans for every occasion, from the purely utilitarian fans that start at ¥743 (US$7), to the more indulgent sandalwood fans that can go for as much as ¥43,532 (US$410). Even if you’re not there to make a purchases, Miyawaki Baisenan offers a fascinating look at the history of fans, and the many varieties that exist from region to region.

Miyawaki Baisenan is situated north of Shijo-dori, on Rokkaku-dori.

www.nytimes.com

1. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten

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This shop had its start in 1808, specializing in folding fans. The fans at Sakata are strictly for decor, ceremonies, or entertainment, so you won’t be pulling one of these works of art out of your pocket when you’re roasting on a crowded train. Sakata Bunsuke Shoten exhibited at The International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925, meaning these well-made fans have been held in international high-regard for nearly 100 years. Sakata keeps things interesting, releasing a new design each year in a continued effort to blend modern design with Japanese tradition.

Sakata Bunsuke Shoten is located at the corner of Gojo and Yanagi no Bamba street.

eng.trip.kyoto.jp


Read the original article on All About Japan: 3 Historic Fan Shops in Kyoto

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