Knife sharpening and spoon polishing lessons
Tsubame-Sanjo is a region famous for its quality metal knives and tableware. The Tsubame-Sanjo Regional Industry and Promotion Center, five minutes from the JR Shinkansen Tsubame-Sanjo Station, exhibits and sells a wide array of metalware, using traditional techniques as well as leading-edge technology. Special to this center are the lessons in knife sharpening and spoon polishing given by artisans who create those products.
Here, a local craftsman takes me through the steps of knife sharpening. First, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle against the whetstone. Then, tilt the knife until the angle of the bevel rests on the whetstone. Raise the spine of the knife slightly and begin to sharpen. It’s that simple! What’s more, a blacksmith will engrave your name for free on a knife you purchase in the store. (Cost of workshop: free. Time: 20-30 min. Book in advance.)
Do you find your stainless steelware darkening after long use? One of the staff members taught me how to use a grinder to give it a polished, matt look. It’s hard, though, to maintain the shine without the special equipment at home. The gentleman, however, taught me a good method! Simply avoid scrubbing too hard when washing. You can also bring home the spoon you polished. (Cost of lesson: 300 yen. Time: About 5 min. Book in advance. Or join on the spot if space is available.)
And now, for some shopping!! An endless array of dinnerware, knives, kitchen utensils, plus pots and pans, fill the roughly 800 square-meter area. Not just beautiful in design, they’re so practical for everyday use that you’ll want to get all of them. I am told that among the increasing number of foreign tourists most popular among the Asian visitors are the beer tumblers, and kitchenware, including pots and pans. Duty-free service is available, so don’t forget your passport.
Access: Tsubame-Sanjo Station on the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Railway, a 5-minute walk from the Tsubame Exit
Hours: 9:00 am to 9:30 pm
Closed: The first Wednesday of every month. Also, December 29 to January 3