Tsukiji Masamoto knife shop in the Tsukiji Market, Tokyo (2005)
While the fish section of the Tsukiji market is the most well-known, it is by no means the only section. The other parts of the Tsukiji market extend far into the district of Tsukiji for which the market is named. All around the area there are fruit and vegetable vendors, cookware vendors, knife shops, coffee shops and sushi joints – just to name a few things. One of those knife shops is Tsukiji Masamoto (築地正本), one of the oldest knife makers in Japan, not to be confused with the knife maker Masamoto Sohonten (正本総本店) – the two are only distantly related. There are a number of significant things to notice in the photo above. The shop is being run today by the young apprentices, the older master is not around. The banner above the store displays the Masamoto logo (正本) as well as the character (秀) in a circle – which roughly translates to “excellence” – the same circled character is stamped into the knives. The display case out front contains knives known as wa-gyuto (和牛刀) with Western-style blades but traditional Japanese handles. One apprentice is sharpening knives on wet stones known as toishi over a water basin while the other is hand hammering names and inscriptions into knife hilts.
I bought I knife from here, a santoku (三徳), the only carbon steel knife I own and by far the sharpest.