Called the “Kitchen of Kyoto,” there is a saying in Kyoto, “there is no kind of food that you can’t find at Nishiki.” While, it is primarily a place for food, you can also find very fine kitchen utensils.
Masamoto and Aritsugu are two very famous Japanese kitchen knife makers. Masamoto is the brand that is best-known in eastern Japan. Aritsugu, on the other hand, is the brand that is most famous in western Japan. Aritsugu’s main store is located in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.
Fujiwara Aritsugu, a swordsmith, founded this store in 1560 and the shop is now lead by the 18th generation of store owners. Aritsugu boasts a history spanning over 550 years.
Aritsugu was one of the few selected stores to become a supplier for the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This is one aspect of their history which guarantees the excellent quality of their products. The power and the influence of their tradition can still be felt.
Aritsugu is now famous as a leading brand of Japanese kitchen knives. Usually, most knives are made from stainless steel, but Aritsugu knives are traditionally made from steel. This is another aspect in which you can feel the store’s history.
After you make your selection, the staff will put a final edge on the knife with a huge revolving whetstone. They’ll also engrave the knife with your initials if you wish. Finally, if you intend to give the knife as a gift, they’ll include a small stone to symbolically dull the blade (which might otherwise cut your ties to the recipient of the gift).
Aritsugu is also the place to go in Kyoto for good quality kitchenware.
One thing you need to be aware of when visiting Aritsugu is that the payment can be made in cash only. Credit or debit cards cannot be used.
Ichihara Heibei Shoten
Since its foundation in the Edo period (1600-1868), Ichihara Heibei Shoten has offered only the best quality chopsticks. Not only for general dining occasions but they also produce many different kinds of chopsticks depending on purposes of use. There are as many as 400 different forms of chopsticks to meet every demand. Chopsticks are such simple tools – just consisting of two sticks – but that simple structure exhibits amazing elegance and functionality. The Heian-bashi is the pair for ordinary dining. This type of chopsticks is often made from bamboo coated with lacquer, and has an incredibly thin end which enables users to pick up food with a graceful movement. Curiously, the thinner ends make user’s hand movements appear extremely elegant. The Miyako-bashi was invented by the previous owner and uses a rare kind bamboo called Susu-dake. Susu-dake is a kind of bamboo originally used as a part of the traditional Japanese hearth so that the bamboo is naturally smoked over the years and becomes dark brown. People often put great value on this natural outcome. Susu-dake is also very durable which is why it is preferred as a material for Japanese items. Bamboo with a spotted pattern, red-lacquered, ebony, chestnuts wood, and all kinds of chopsticks can be found in the Ichihara Heibei Shoten.
Kotani Knives and Kitchen Supplies
The store has a long history of more than 150 years. Their ancestors also made samurai swords. The store is located in the middle in Higashi Honganji and Nishi-Honganji area of Kyoto.
This is one of a few shops in Kyoto that still preserves traditional metal knitting (metal wire) craft tradition. They offer beautiful tofu scoopers and tea strainers made by incredibly fine metal knitting techniques. Every piece is handmade. There is a number of different techniques and methods of how to make a metal craft: how to hand-knit metal wires, how to form them into a plate for grill and how to attach the wires around the wooden container to provide additional stability. Tsuji knows all of these intricate details and is able to achieve both easy-to-use and beautiful items. Their tofu scooper and tea strainer has their original design that looks like a chrysanthemum flower and turtle shell. This tradition requires an accurate sense of twisting and knitting and only experienced handwork by a craftsman can achieve such a complicated and delicate design. Tsuji also produce new items matching a modern life style. One of these items is a grill net with ceramic. When based on this net, bread, rice cakes and vegetables become so soft and perfect due to the far-infrared ray effect. Metal baskets, strainers and many other beautiful kitchen items are displayed in the shop and you will be fascinated with yet another example of the beauty of traditional crafts in Kyoto. They have only one shop in Kyoto near Kodai-ji Temple.