Experience Report: Sharpening Kitchen Knife & Savoring Sake in Kyoto

Knife sharpening experience tour in Kyoto

Have you ever used Japanese kitchen knives? They are famous for being very delicate and sharp. A chef friend of mine who runs a popular café in Singapore even goes out of his way to order Japanese kitchen knives, saying they are the best he has ever used.

To maintain their sharpness, kitchen knives need to be sharpened on a regular basis. This time, three of my friends and I participated in a hands-on kitchen knife sharpening tour and a sake tasting tour to deepen our knowledge of Japanese sake. I participated in the tour with three of my friends, and I would like to share our experiences with you in this blog.

Knife Sharpening Tour

Knife sharpening experience tour in Kyoto

The location is very convenient, just a 7 minute walk from Yasaka Shrine, famous for the Gion Festival in Kyoto. Furukawa Shuzō (古川趣蔵) is located on a corner of a cosy and tasteful shopping street. Across the street is a knife sharpening workshop called Tsuneshin (常真) run by Mr Iwayama, who has sharpened 150 million kitchen knives and Japanese swords in his 23 years of experience as a craftsman.

Knife sharpening experience tour in Kyoto

We first learned about whetstones, which come in natural and artificial types. Depending on the order of sharpening, different stones are used. Then Iwayama-san explained about the different types of kitchen knives in Japan, depending on the purpose of use, and the differences in the structure of the blade of each type of knife. The method of sharpening also seems to differ from knife to knife.

Next it was time for a demonstration and hands-on experience. We tried sharpening the knives as we were taught.
First, we used a coarse whetstone to raising a burr in the metal, and then we used a fine whetstone to remove the burr. This creates a smooth cutting edge. You can clearly feel the difference by touching it with your finger.

Knife sharpening experience tour in Kyoto

After sharpening, we actually cut vegetables and paper. Everyone seemed impressed!

After sharpening the knives, we visited Mr. Iwayama’s shop & studio. It was interesting to see so many natural whetstones lined up in a small space.

Knife sharpening experience tour in Kyoto

To all chefs watching this, and to those who are interested in Japanese kitchen knives, you may want to join this knife sharpening tour and experience it for yourself 🙂


Japanese Sake Lecture & Tasting

After the knife sharpening tour, we continued with a Japanese Sake lecture & tasting tour.

understanding Sake experience tour in Kyoto, Sake tasting

Here, too, in a pleasant atmosphere, we learned about the history of sake, how it is made, the different types of sake, the different tastes of each, and the characteristics of Kyoto sake.
We then had the great pleasure of actually tasting the different types of sake produced in Kyoto.

It was a very luxurious experience to taste sake while eating snacks. By the end of the tour, I was drunk and feeling pretty good.

understanding Sake experience tour in Kyoto, Sake tasting

Thanks to this tour, even as a Japanese person, I was able to learn more and more about sake. My friend participants were also very satisfied with the tour too. By comparing sake, we learned that there are quite a few different tastes and flavor profiles. This tour is a great opportunity for everyone to learn about their favorite sake brands, whether they are new to sake or not!

Other Interesting Experience tours at Shirakawa Shuzō

Thank you for reading this far! In this blog I introduced the Kitchen Knife Sharpening and Sake Lecture & Tasting Tours at Shirakawa Shuzō in Kyoto, Japan. You can sign up for the tours here.
There are also Japanese cuisine and ramen cooking tours, so be sure to check
SHIRAKAWA DEEP-DIVE into Japanese Food Culture🤗




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