OMIYAGE FROM JAPAN: Kyoto's Kikuichimonji offers wasabi grater made with sharkskin

February 22, 2014

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Editor's note: This series showcases various kinds of "omiyage" (souvenirs) from around Japan. We introduce you to "must-buy" items that you can get at prefecture-operated shops for promoting local tourism products in Tokyo. The series appears on Saturdays.

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Situated in the Yaesu Central entrance of the capital's landmark JR Tokyo Station, the Kyotokan is a general information center representing Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto.

Among the many local specialties available at Kyotokan, Kikuichimonji Ltd.'s wasabi grater made with sharkskin is a must-buy item for those who know the difference in quality.

When the root of a wasabi plant is grated with the adequately rough surface in a careful manner, the condiment will definitely surprise you. A tiny portion will bring a mild but burning sensation in the mouth after a pause, which cannot be attained with a ready-to-use wasabi paste in tubes.

Kikuichimonji dates back more than 700 years when it was operating as a sword forging studio for a retired emperor. Swordsmith Norimune was given permission to stamp his blades with "kiku-ichimonji," or the imperial chrysanthemum crest.

After carrying swords was banned in the early Meiji Era (1868-1912), the studio shifted to making cutlery for cooking and gardening.

The sharkskin grater comes in three sizes, with the large one priced at 1,890 yen ($18.50), the medium at 1,575 yen and the small at 1,260 yen.

Kyotokan's address: Yanmar Tokyo Building 1F, 2-1-1 Yaesu, Chuo Ward, Tokyo.

Open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed on the last Wednesdays of March and September and the year-end and New Year's holidays between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3.

Visit the official website at (http://kyotokan.jp/en/).

(This article was written by Choi Chae-soo, head of The Asahi Shimbun Korean digital division.)

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Kikuichimonji's wasabi grater made with sharkskin (Chae-soo Choi)

Kikuichimonji's wasabi grater made with sharkskin (Chae-soo Choi)

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