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Tsujiwa Kana-ami

Just south of the Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace grounds lies one of our favorite neighborhoods. Hidden from the regular tourist track and a blank spot on most tourist maps, it is nonetheless a fascinating area. The few blocks between Karasuma and Nijo has long been home to Kyoto's workshops; and family-owned cottage industries thrive to this day; from furniture makers to purse factories, shoji restorers to ajiro dealers. On Sakaimachi-dori, just a few blocks north of Kawabata-dori, is Tsujiwa Kana-ami, a small workshop/store that handcrafts some of the most beautiful wire cooking utensils you will likely see.

During several recent visits, the third-generation owner, Mr. Tsujiwa, and his son were working quietly away. The technique is ancient and decidedly low-tech: Copper and stainless steel wires are attached to simple wooden forms and boards with nails. Only a few parallel guide lines are drawn on each form to make sure the alignment is right, and the wire is then twisted and/or woven, by hand, with precision and speed.

copper wire lantern from Tsujiwa
Above: A beautifully intricate copper wire lantern is displayed in the window. Below: The wooden form used to make the lantern.
lantern form at Tsujiwa
ADDRESS: Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku Sakaimachi-dori Ebisugawa-sagaru Kameya-cho 175
TEL: 075-231-7368
website (japanese only)
Yudofu strainers

From featherlight scoops (pictured above) specifically designed to lift delicate yudofu (tofu cooked in a hot pot) without breaking it, to ingenious traditional rangetop roasters (for vegetables and toast) to tiny boxes designed to roast sesame seeds, everything is beautifully crafted and surprisingly well-priced. You can hardly find a better place for picking up a few useful tools for your kitchen, such as the tea strainers pictured below, or unique gifts for friends back home.

tea strainers at Tsujuwa

English is not spoken, but the family is very friendly and doesn't mind onlookers. The shop is famous among Kyoto residents and is growing in popularity for intrepid tourists as well, both Japanese and increasingly, Western. If you have more than a few days to spend in Kyoto, it's well worth a visit. It's one of those traditional shops that make Kyoto such a special place, and for those who appreciate the kind of beauty and durability only a hand-crafted item can provide, Tsujiwa Kana-ami is a treasure.

A special thanks to Kyoto Foodie for alerting us to this workshop years ago via a very informative blog post.

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