By GAIL MIYASAKI
Rafu Craft Editor
What’s in your kitchen?
Topping my list is a sharp knife or two and shears—besides the usual suspects, cooking pots and pans, Japanese rice cooker, coffee maker, mixer, processor.
My coveted Japanese knife was dull. Where to get it sharpened? Who to trust?
Voila! My answer was there in an L.A. Times article. Tsukiji Hitachiya USA, a Torrance specialty kitchenware shop that opened one year ago, fit the bill. I stopped by to meet shopkeepers Masazumi and Yoko Hirota.
Masa is the master knife and scissor sharpener. His skills were honed at the Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market store under his father’s tutelage. The result: my knife is as good as new!
Scroll back to April 1970. Then a young, adverturesome university grad, Masa’s dream was to travel the world. Influenced by renowned traveler and journalist Kaoru Kanetaka, his motorcycle journey started in San Francisco. A stop-over in Los Angeles included an interview by a Rafu reporter.
Within a year’s time, he and his trusty Yamaha XS2 had crossed the U.S., Cuba, Colombia, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, Israel, India and London. Looking like a Cheshire Cat, Masa beams when recalling the all-embracing people of color that he encountered.
Now he’s come full circle, returning to Cali with select products, all made in Japan. He bows his head to the fine workmanship by Japanese craftspeople who continue to make quality products for both home and industry.
Foodies can appreciate the Sakai Takayuki and All-Mighty Knife selections. Collectors talk shop with Masa, who may find what they’re in the market for.
Yoko fields questions from the curious and keeps them happy. She says that hand-hammered steel woks in three sizes, bamboo colanders and shopping containers are top sellers. Look at hand-shaped steel cutters and molds (all the better for shaping appetizers, bread, cookies, even finger Jell-O); steamers; cooking utensils; basic black and colored iron teapots and matcha tea making supplies; hashi and rests; dehydration racks; and lots more.
Jump-start your Saturday morning and head out to the Southeast Japanese School and Community Center in Norwalk for a Hawaiian-style pancake breakfast that starts at 7 a.m.
Come eight, it’s holiday shopping time as boutique doors open into the gym! With list in hand, check out the special greeting cards designed by Debbie Sunahara Williams of Paper Trail Crafts.
Creating artsy crafty items defines who she is. Her path to paper crafting all began with Stampin’ Up workshops. This East Coast gal had already dabbled in sewing, knitting, crocheting, seed bead jewelry, teddy bears and quilts.
Williams does a balancing act with her day job as an event coordinator at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Absolutely loving what she does, she’s able to show off her creative talents and get paid for it. For an exhibition on soil, Williams made escort cards using seed packets. A menu card used hieroglyphics for a dinner setting right by the mummies.
“When I’m trying to think of new designs, I see patterns and shapes in unexpected places, like a piece of furniture, or book cover, or an article of clothing,” she said.
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Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
SEJSCC Holiday Boutique
Hawaiian-Style Pancake Breakfast 7-11 a.m.
Southeast Japanese School & Community Center
14615 Gridley Rd., Norwalk
562-754-8582, Richard Shinomoto
Saturday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Crafty Foxes Holiday Boutique
Joan Pisani Community Center
19655 Allendale Ave., Saratoga
408-356-2764, Carol Yuki
Sunday, Oct. 21, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
WLA JACL Aki Matsuri Boutique
Venice Japanese Community Center
12448 Braddock Dr., Culver City
323-980-8225, Jean Ushijima