Japanese Knife Shopping at Kappabashi

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Blog, Shopper's Journal | 2 comments

Japanese Knife Shopping at Kappabashi

Japanese Knife Shopping at Kappabashi

During my recent trip to Kappabashi, I decided to shop for a Japanese knife.

Why Japanese knives? Admittedly, I was initially drawn by its “beauty”.  The traditional Japanese knives were originally derived from Japanese sword craftsmanship.  The techniques have been handed from generation to generation and perfected over time.  Japanese knives are very sharp and they look very elegant too.

There are many types of Japanese knives, serving difference purposes.  For example:

– The Yanagi, originated from Kanto, is long and thin.  It is used to slice boneless fish fillets into sashimi and toppings for sushi. The graceful, thin blade cuts beautiful slices in one long, drawing stroke.


– The Usuba is a traditional Japanese knife used to cut or make thin sheets of vegetables.  Usuba literally means “thin blades”.  This is a much thinner knife, compared to the others.


My knife-hunting trip brought me to Union Commerce, a famous knife shop along one of the side streets at Kappabashi.  They source knives from many well-known brands, carrying all kinds of designs and feature both Western and Japanese blades.

The store owner is very knowledgeable and speaks English. I told him that I was looking for a multi-purpose knife for daily meat slicing purposes, and was quickly introduced to the Deba.

The Deba is often used in the Japanese fish markets and restaurants that work with whole fish, because it is designed to behead and fillet fish without damaging the fish. It can also be used with other meats. However, I was clearly warned that it is not intended for chopping of large diameter bones nor should it be used by slamming down the knife like a cleaver.

After checking out a few of the brands offered, I settled for the Masamoto brand’s deba.  Actually, I chose another (more expensive) pair, but the store owner was very honest and explained that “This knife is more suitable for professional chef. It is not so easy for normal people to use”.  Even though I couldn’t quite figure out what he meant by “not easy to use”, I decided that it is best to heed his advice anyway.   Pictures of my precious knife:

deba whole   deba logo

Feeling really satisfied with my purchase, I continued browsing and ended up buying another knife – a Kamagata Usuba.  The Kamagata Usuba is slightly different from the Kanto version of Usuba, as the Kamagata Usuba has a pointed tip, which supposedly allows for more delicate work.  I liked it that this knife is sharp and super light.

revised u

Picture of both the knives, for size comparison :

both knives

Purchasing Advice : Before you go out and purchase a Japanese knife, it is best to do some research first and decide on the purpose of the knife and material of the blade.  My Deba knife is made from carbon steel.  Even though it is harder than stainless steel, stainless steel is more rust resistant.  I have to be very diligent in cleaning and drying it thoroughly after each use to avoid it from rusting.  Some people also oil it after each use but the store owner explained that such a step is not necessary, if the knife is to be used frequently.

Direction to Kappabashi Street

–  Take exit number 3 out of Tawaracho Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line), turn around and walk towards the nearesr intersection in front of you.  Turn right and walk along Asakusa Dori (towards Ueno).

–  You should pass a post office and the Akafudado Supermarket within minutes.

–  Continue on and you would have arrived at your destination when you see the giant chef’s head atop a store called Nimi.

chef head 2

(Rough) Direction to Union Commerce

Walk along Kappabashi Dori till you come to the 3rd junction (I think) and look for the giant knife banners and buntings at your right side.

banner 1

Follow the banner and you will soon find the shop (2nd or 3rd shop from the junction).  You can’t miss the armour suit at the store entrance.

union commerce

While there, do drop by Union Coffee (the shop around that corner) for your coffee beans and all sorts of coffee making equipment supplies.  Find out more about it at Coffee Speciality Shop at Kappabashi blog entry.







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