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How and where to buy knives in Tokyo

As I said in my previous post, my week with knives, I am going to list some areas and shops for knives in Tokyo.

Occasionally, I am asked where to shop for a Japanese knife. Not being a pro chef, my usual advice is to go to a couple of shops. When you are there, pick up a few blades to get a feel for the weight and size, tell the shop what you are looking for, and ask them about the pros and cons of various types such as materials, sizes and shapes. Is carbon steel sharper than stainless steel? Is 27 cm better than 21 cm? Is a gyuto going to do the job rather than buying a deba? What does it take to keep it sharp all the time? Don’t know what any of those terms mean? Check this summary of Japanese knives and terminology on Wikipedia.

Just like when shopping for things as different as sake or shoes, it’s personal. A good storekeeper will take the time to ask you questions and let you get the feel for the wares and find one suited to your needs, and will also explain how to take care of it. When I walk into a sake shop, if they start to ask questions to find out what I am looking for, then offer to let me try a few sips, I usually end up finding a new bottle that I like. My regular shoe shop take sthe time to explain details such as which parts of shoes can be replaced when worn out to make the shoes last as long as possible. If a knife shop doesn’t help you out in these ways, go elsewhere.

The other day, I was showing some shops to a friend who wanted to buy a deba bocho for cleaning a whole fish. After we went to a couple of specialty stores in Nihonbashi and Kappabashi, one place asked her questions such what type of fish she usually cleans and if she was left handed. Then, he recommended a couple sizes for lefties based on her answers.

Once, I was at a shop in Tsukiji and about to buy a new knife to help me with my frustration at improving my katsuramuki technique. The guy politely pointed to me as the source of the problem, not the knife, and said no new knife was ever going to solve my problem. Thus, he stopped me from shopping on the spur of the moment. He gave up that sale, but I’ve returned to the shop several time since then.

See below for a map showing shop locations and contact information. These are places I’ve visited, brought friends, and trust.

Kappabashi

Kappabashi shops are open till 5:00 pm or so and closed on Sundays & holidays.

TDI - I have bought my Global, Misono and TDI private brand petty knife here. In addition, they carry Tojiro and imported brands.

Kamata (English Website by Yahoo translation) – They carry some Misono, but mostly their private brand. The staff are always friendly and the guy behind the wheel reminds me of good software engineers I used to work with – geeky and knows what he is doing.
Kama-asa (Website in Japanese) – Offers extensive knife and iron products. I always like their big knife display in front of the store.

Tsukiji Jogai

Tsukiji Jogai shops are open until 3:00 p.m. or so and closed on Sundays and some Wednesdays. Check the schedule before you go. These shops in Tsukiji carry their own brand.

Tsukiji Aritsugu (Website in Japanese)

Sugimoto

Tsukiji Masamoto (Website in Japanese)

Azuma Minamato-no Masahisa (Website in Japanese)

Nihonbashi

Kiya – This is my friend’s favorite shop. They carry their own brands with some other brands, too.

Roppongi


Global Shop
– This one is an exception. I have not been here yet, but they should carry Global-Pro. Please just call to confirm because Global-Pro distribution seems to be changing.

Interesting blog posts I saw about Tsukiji knife shops:

Tsukiji knife photos on tokyo photojournalist
Sharpning Japanese Knives on The Japanese Food Report

Map of knife shops in Tokyo


View Knives in Tokyo in a larger map

Discussion

5 Responses to “How and where to buy knives in Tokyo”

  1. I bought a knife from this store http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs323.ash2/60356_969008422251_6023914_51336213_5566390_n.jpg

    But I cannot figure out the name (miya niya?) Nor Can I find out any information on that store. I just wanted to know more, and also if the blades sold there are decent.

    Posted by GIlbert | December 17, 2010, 9:30 am
  2. Gilbert,
    The store is called, “Miyacoya.”

    Posted by Rick | August 31, 2011, 7:36 am
  3. Why would anyone want a knife that is made from 52 Rockwell steel when the lowest benchmark should be around 63. Global is one knife that looks Japanese, possibly still made in Japan but is on the lowest rung of the knife ladder.
    It’s all opinion is it not?

    Posted by Ivan Earl | March 17, 2012, 7:15 am
  4. this site was a great help to me in finding many of the shops listed and bringing home some fantastic knives, thank you thank you!

    Posted by Keith | October 31, 2012, 1:42 pm

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