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    Username Post: Resources for visiting Sakai, Japan        (Topic#873845)
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 07:57.39 - Post#2085064    



    I posted this on FF, and am posting it here too for the sake of being thorough. I can't imagine more than a handful of people would ever need this information, but here it is anyways.

    I made two maps, one of the Greater Sakai area with a detail of the area around Ashi Hamono, and one of the 'Knife District'. Everything in the Knife District map is more or less walkable, depending on your energy level. For reference, the distance between #1 and #8 is almost exactly one mile.

    Also, to help make sense of things and put these maps in a greater context, here's a link to an excellent map of the entire Kansai area railway system - http://japanize.jp/center_base_1.pdf - all the stations in Sakai are on grid J-9 on the second page.

    _____
    KNIFE DISTRICT

    The Nankai train lines are the most direct way into Sakai. If you're coming from KIX airport, you'll take the Nankai-Honsen (Nankai main line) to #1. If you're coming from Osaka, you'll start at the Nankai-Namba station (which is above ground, nearby but separate from the regular Namba station). Here you have two choices, the same Nankai-Honsen to #1 or the Nankai-Koya to #8.

    There's also a JR station (Sakai-shi station) further east off the map, which you might want to use if you have a JR rail pass, but you'll have to take a taxi to get into the knife district. Ask to be taken to Sakai Hamono Dento Sangyo Kaikan, which is the only place they're likely to know, and they should drop you off at #2, the knife museum.

    #3 and #6 are stops on a small antique tram line, running on tracks in the street. It's very slooooow and more of a quaint tourist line than a commuter line. It might be useful if you're tired of walking, but it's not going to save you any time. Be prepared to wait 20 minutes for a train to come by.



    _____
    GREATER SAKAI

    I haven't been to Ashi-Hamono (#B), so I hesitate to recommend anyone else to visit their shop. However, they are a major OEM and I imagine there's some interest in tracking them down in the hopes of getting major brand stuff at a discount. So I did a little research and Google Street View shows what looks to be a knife shop at Ashi-Hamono's address.

    It's on the same train lines you would be taking into the main knife district of Sakai. #A is the next station north from Sakai station (#1 other map), on the Nankai-Honten line. #C is a tram-stop four stops north from #3 on the other map. Further our east in greater Sakai, #D is the next stop north from Sakai-Higashi station (#8 other map), and #E is the JR station I mentioned above, if for some reason you'd like to stick with JR trains.



    _____
    REFERENCE

    To make things confusing, because that's what the Japanese are best at, each shop has a different name than the brand they sell (with the exception of Ashi-Hamono). If you ask someone where Suisin is, even if they understand English, they might not know, because their store is actually called "Knife System"... makes sense, right? Konosuke's store is called Kaneshige Hamono, and Tadatsuna's is Nagata Hamono, but at least they have a banner out front that says 'Ikkanshi Tadatsuna'. There's not really any reason for you to worry about this as long as you stick with the map, but it's crucial if for some reason you need to ask directions.

    And for reference, here's a list of the knife brands/stores and their addresses in kanji, should you need it.

    Konosuke (幸之祐) - sold by Kaneshige Hamono (カネシゲ刃物)
    Address: 大阪府堺市堺区甲斐町東4-3-26

    Suisin (酔心) - sold by Knife System (ナイフシステム)
    Address: 大阪府堺市堺区甲斐町西1-1-28

    Tadatsuna (忠綱) - sold by Nagata Hamono (永田刃物)
    Address: 大阪府堺市堺区甲斐町東1-1-4

    Knife Museum, officially called 'Sakai Hamono Dento Sangyo Kaikan' (堺伝統産業会館)
    Address: 大阪府堺市堺区材木町西1-1-30

    Ashi Hamono (芦刃物)
    Address: 大阪府堺市堺区並松町14


    Here's more specific info on each shop, and pictures to give you a better idea of what to look for on the street. Also, open times and holidays.

    _____
    Suisin - 072-232-7858
    http://www.suisin.co.jp/Japanese/knife-system.htm
    Doesn't say on their website, but I'm fairly certain they were closed on mondays... but don't take my word for it.

    Suisin has a very small store, it's more like a business office that happens to have a display case. No one spoke english when I was there, but they were happy to let me handle whatever I wanted.






    _____
    Tadatsuna - 072-232-2921 / 072-232-1132
    http://www.hamono21.co.jp/34/index.html
    Also doesn't say, but I think they're either closed sunday or monday, can't remember, sorry. It'd be a good idea to have someone at your hotel call them in advance.

    This is a proper shop, but again, no one spoke english. Don't let that discourage you though, pointing and nodding will usually get the job done.






    _____
    Konosuke - 072-222-0081
    [URL]http://www.konosuke-sakai.com/news/log/eid94.html[/URL]
    Says they're open 7 days a week, from 9-6

    This is how the store looked almost a year ago when I went. However, they were renovating the area next door, on the ground floor of the same building, so it might look different now. At the time, they didn't have any knives on display, but Kawamura-san spoke excellent english, and would bring out whatever I wanted to see. It was mostly blank blades without handles. After picking out the blade, I picked out the handle separately, and they hammed it together in the shop.

    This is probably outdated information by now. He told me they would have a proper display area when they finished their renovation.






    _____
    Ashi Hamono - 072-229-4920
    http://www.ashihamono.com/legal.html
    Assuming their 'reception desk' is the same as their shop, they should be open 9-5 with an hour break for lunch, closed sundays & holidays.

    Here's what it should look like, according to Google Street View. You can see what appears to be a wa-handle in the display window at the left and 3 knife blades in the sliding door window.




    _____
    Knife Museum - 072-227-1001
    http://www.sakaihamono.or.jp/museum04.html
    Open 10-5, closed on tuesdays

    This is a pretty big place, with a replica forge and a sequence of knives showing progress through the forging process. They also have a display of every kind of traditional knife imaginable - check out the 400mm deba in the center on the back wall (3rd photo). And that's only half of the place. The other half is a shop selling Takayuki knives and a whole bunch of OEM brands I had never heard of before (4th photo). There was a huge variety, with lots of fancy stuff like damascus and etched blades.







     


    Eatrustic
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 13:00.12 - Post#2085341    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Thanks, nice info and stuff to dream on.

    Your links don't appear to be operational though.
     
    spinblue
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 13:21.45 - Post#2085369    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Very nice. I don't know how, where, if ever, I'll get there but its always nice to dream.

    Mucho gracias.
     
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 13:36.27 - Post#2085383    


        In response to Eatrustic

    Doh. I just copied everything from my FF post... oh well, you guys can just copy and paste.
     
    milesonend
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 13:37.23 - Post#2085386    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    great post ill be using this in a few months...
     
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 13:58.46 - Post#2085399    


        In response to milesonend

    Excellent! Be sure to post some pics
     
    Bishamon
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 14:02.34 - Post#2085404    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Readable sized pictures of those first two maps?
     
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-14-10 14:29.29 - Post#2085420    


        In response to Bishamon

    Right click, open image in new tab.
     
    evanjohnson
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 00:15.14 - Post#2086557    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    • spaceconvoy Said:
    Right click, open image in new tab.


    Right clicking to open in a new tab didn't work for me.
     
    jmfrankl
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 00:15.59 - Post#2086559    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Awesome! Thank you, I'll be in Japan next month.

    Would you consider this the best single venue for viewing/buying? Or are there others in other places?

    Also, are prices considerably better than just mail ordering here?

    Thanks again.
     
    watercrawl
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 01:35.22 - Post#2086593    


        In response to milesonend

    • milesonend Said:
    great post ill be using this in a few months...



    If you come back with anything less than 500, high-quality pictures, I'm keeping your takohiki when it comes in.
    Adam

    www.marrknives.com

    Marr Knives on FB



     
    watercrawl
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 01:37.22 - Post#2086594    


        In response to watercrawl

    This thread is fun! I can't wait to get home to view the pictures larger.
    Adam

    www.marrknives.com

    Marr Knives on FB



     
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 05:26.15 - Post#2086780    


        In response to jmfrankl

    • jmfrankl Said:
    Awesome! Thank you, I'll be in Japan next month.

    Would you consider this the best single venue for viewing/buying? Or are there others in other places?

    Also, are prices considerably better than just mail ordering here?

    Thanks again.



    I don't really know about it being the best place for knives, since I haven't been to Seiki, and when I was in Tokyo, I didn't care about knives But I from what I've heard, I my uneducated guess is that Sakai is the best place to shop for the largest variety of kitchen knives.

    First off let's look at the other options:

    Seiki - It's in the middle of nowhere, and unless you're interested in traditional thatched-roof houses (Shirakawa-go) it's hard to justify the trip out there just for the knives. I haven't been though, so who knows...

    Tokyo - Aritsugu Tokyo, for whatever reason, is still not competitively priced online (but looks like CKTG might change that pretty soon) and is still a lot cheaper in Japan. I believe Tsukiji is the place for knives, but you could also try the generic kitchen stores in Kappabashi.

    Osaka - For people who don't want to make the trip out to Sakai, there's the Doguya-suji arcade mall in downtown Osaka. Ichimonji is the big store here, but they just sell Sakai OEM stuff at jacked up prices. Here, the best deal is on Takayuki, which is another brand currently not priced competitively online. Look for them at one of the smaller kitchen stores.

    Kyoto - You can get Aritsugu traditional carbon knives in Kyoto... my opinion is they're overpriced, and you're mostly paying for the experience (but it is a very nice experience). Kyoto is however, THE place for natural stones. But if you don't speak Japanese or don't have someone who can, you won't get anywhere with the sellers. They will treat you like a tourist and turn you away with a King combo stone.

    Nara - Kikuichi has a store close to the big buddha, but it's mostly a tourist trap.

    There are also a few random places around Japan that have retained a small local knife industry, usually in remote places, like Tanegashima in Kyushu. These are for the most part novelty knives.

    The places above stock standard knives, and they're good places to go if you're interested in trying out a 240 vs 270 gyuto side by side, or western vs wa handles, etc. Standard stuff like that. In general, you're not going to save money, except on a few specific brands in certain places. But Sakai is different than these places....

    It's mainly a matter of specialization. Seiki is a much better place for people who are interested in hunting and folding knives, and there are a lot of custom makers who specialize in them there. Sakai is better known for kitchen knives, and the knife museum is an amazing place to see a whole bunch of different custom stuff, damascus, engravings, etchings, ebony handles, full bling, etc. These are the reason you should go to Sakai.





    But if you're not interested in getting something unusual or custom made, don't bother. Internet prices have become much more competitive, even from a year ago, largely thanks to CKTG. And Tadatsuna and Konosuke charge the exact same amount in person as their internet prices, so your only saving on shipping... and then blowing that savings on tax and transportation so it might end up costing even more to buy the knife in person.

    However, the chance to pick out your blade and your handle and watch them hammer it together at Konosuke (if they even still do that after their renovation) is worth the price of admission. Keep in mind though, there's a good chance they won't have what you want. I wanted a 240mm gyuto, no problem, but if you want a 330mm kensaki-yanagi in blue steel, they might have to mail it to you.

    In general, be prepared for frustration. Even if you think you have everything planned out, they could be sick and close up shop for the day - these aren't big stores, more like mom and pop operations. While I was there, I didn't see many other people shopping for knives, and aside from the Knife Museum and Tadatsuna (who seems to be the most famous), these places aren't geared towards the public.

    Bottom line, if you're a knife nut, it's completely worth it. If you just want a good price, it's not.
     
    Eatrustic
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 07:37.39 - Post#2086874    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Thanks again, those last little bits of info are what put you in the right mindset (reality check) that you need when going off on a dream hunt in unknown territory
     
    jmfrankl
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-16-10 14:57.29 - Post#2087223    


        In response to Eatrustic

    Thank you. I fall in the nut category, and will be visiting.
     
    Mankew
    Member
    *
    03-17-10 07:56.16 - Post#2087825    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Thanks for the info. How much does the taxi from the JR station to the knife museum cost?

    Do any of these shops accept credit card or cash only.

    Did you visit Tanaka WhetStone in Kyoto and how bad is it if you do not speak any japanese at all.
     
    geezr
    Journeyman KnifeNut!
    *
    03-17-10 09:44.37 - Post#2087949    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Thanks for the links and information
    Really like the picture of the outside of the museum.
    Unlikely as it seems, sure would like to go to Sakai sometime soon
     
    spaceconvoy
    Master Member KnifeNut!
    *
    03-18-10 04:24.32 - Post#2088632    


        In response to Mankew

    • Mankew Said:
    Thanks for the info. How much does the taxi from the JR station to the knife museum cost?

    Do any of these shops accept credit card or cash only.

    Did you visit Tanaka WhetStone in Kyoto and how bad is it if you do not speak any japanese at all.



    I can't give you a specific number, but in general, you pay between 500 and 600 yen just to step in the cab. The rate will be on the door - this is the flat rate for the first 2km (I think it's 2km), after that there's a per-distance rate, and who knows what that is. I'd say your probably within the flat rate from the JR to the knife museum, maybe a little extra.

    I think they all take credit card, but I really don't know. Konosuke definitely does, and I'm 99% certain the knife museum does too... For the others, it definitely wouldn't hurt to have your hotel give them a call.

    I did visit Tanaka in Kyoto, but I didn't try using English. I'm pretty sure he doesn't speak it at all. I'm sure he'll sell to you if you tell him exactly what you want. Mostly because of shipping costs, you can get stones for a lot cheaper in Japan, almost half the price. So if you know you want an Arashiyama, just say 'Arashiyama'... but if you're interested in a natural stones, I imagine pointing and paying is not the best way to go.

    It would probably help a lot to know at least these three words:
    人造 - Jinzou - Synthetic
    天然 - Tennen - Natural
    砥石 - Toishi - Whetstone

    Good luck!
     
    Mankew
    Member
    *
    03-18-10 18:34.50 - Post#2089262    


        In response to spaceconvoy

    Thanks for the heads up Space. I'll be going to Japan in early April for Cherry Blossom season. I'll be in Tokyo for 6 days and Osaka/Kyoto for 7 days. Any other places you would recommend going.
     


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