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I remember our first trip to Japan almost five years ago. Walking through design and home stores, I was completely taken by how many kitchen and cooking accessories were available.

Uniquely to Japan, these cooking accessories were ones that I had never even heard of prior to that trip.

On our second trip to Japan, I arrived with one empty suitcase knowing I was not coming home empty-handed.

Over the years, our love and passion for all things Japanese have formed a lot of our spaces at home.

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so these utensils, gadgets, and cooking accessories are what come to mind first.

I know we may not be able to travel to Japan, so I thought it would be a fun story to share. A little introduction to some incredibly designed Japanese kitchen accessories.

I’ve even added in some recipe books to inspire as we move into the fall and winter months — some of the best cold-weather recipes are Japanese.

Here’s a look at 12 Japanese kitchen accessories you didn’t know you needed.

9 Japanese Kitchen Accessories You Didn’t Know You Needed

1. Japanese Trivet

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

We grew up with trivets (though I called these potholders) for a long time. When I first saw these in Japan, it was one of my first purchases for the kitchen.

These trivets are woven out of straw typically, and they don’t burn underneath a hot pot. They come in a range of sizes, so I keep a small and a large one in the kitchen.

If I’m being honest, what I love is that they are both very functional and aesthetically pleasing. I keep mine out and hung on the brass bar in our kitchen.

Where to source

2. Japanese Mortar & Pestle

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

These are so different from the mortars we have in America.

The reason why is that the mortar has these special ridges in it allowing for a better grind. Often the pestles are longer and allow for an easier way to grind up ingredients.

I use it often to mash up garlic, create sauces, and blend up spices. They’re also called a “suribachi set”

Where to source

3. A General-Use Japanese Chef Knife (Gyutu Knife)

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

I can’t say it often enough — a sharp Japanese knife is a must in the kitchen.

We source ours in Kyoto from a historic store called Aritsugu where they’ve been making their own knives for 400+ years. The last two trips, we’ve come home with a knife (it is a splurge purchase) but they’re honestly worth every penny.

They’ll last a lifetime as well if properly taken care of.

So the style of knife that you’re going to want and get the most out of is a “gyutu” knife or a chef’s knife.

The gyutu knife has a blade that is often thinner than most Western knives, thus holding a sharper edge. I prefer a knife that has a wood handle and stainless steel blade.

I HUNTED the internet to find our EXACT knife and I found it. A seller on Etsy who has incredible reviews is sourcing the knives for you and actually getting them engraved for you (something you would have done in the shop).

Anywhere from 7-8 inches for the blade is really comfortable for me personally.

Where to source

4. Traditional Japanese Copper Utensils From Kyoto

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

On our last trip to Japan, I spent a lot of time researching local artisans who were crafting home and kitchen goods. I was introduced to Kanaami-Tsuji in the heart of historic Kyoto. Kanaami is “wire-netting” where strings of copper are beautifully woven together to create everyday kitchen items in Japan like tea-strainers and tofu strainers.

Their shop in Kyoto is seriously beautiful (check out my Kyoto guide for local shops).

The two items I walked away with and use quite frequently are the tea strainer and hand woven ceramic grill (or what I use to toast my bread).

Where to source

  • Tea strainer here
  • Etsy — a similar one to the tea strainer.
  • Amazon — this is the most similar one I can find to the ceramic grill

5. Japanese-Style Steel Wok

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

Similar to a wok found in other Asian cultures, the Japanese wok is just an all-around useful item in the kitchen. Toss everything in and you can have a quick stir-fry for dinner.

Where to source

6. Japanese Kitchen Shears

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

Lifehack: why chop things when you can just cut them? I keep a pair of “kitchen” or cooking-only shears for everyday cooking tasks.

A favorite way to use them is for freshly cut herbs over dishes. They are incredibly handy to use while cooking, you may be surprised.

Where to source

7. A Hinoki Cutting Board – Antibacterial

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

I personally prefer to cut on wood cutting boards, but oftentimes you can run into issues with bacteria growth.

The brand Yoshihiro (known for its knives) has a line of cutting boards made from the Japanese Hinoki Cypress tree. The wood has a softer impact on your knife blade as well as providing an anti-bacterial element to it.

Where to source

8. The Donabe — One Pot Cooking Elevated

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

I don’t know where to start with the donabe other than to say that this kitchenware has changed the way I’ve cooked.

It’s a clay pot that can be used to steam, smoke, cook rice, and create one-pot dishes. Cooking with a donabe is magical — the flavors that come from the toasted rice at the bottom when you steam a dish together is incredible.

There are so many kinds of donabes available and at first glance, it can be really overwhelming. I’d recommend getting a general-use one that has a steamer attachment inside and one that will serve 4-6 people.

The main brand for traditional donabes is Naatani-en and I really do adore mine. When I can, I like to support traditional artists, though it does come at a steeper price.

Where to source

9. Hasami Porcelain (Various Items)

Japanese Kitchen Accessories

The design of Hasami Porcelain is one that is widely recognizable in the US today.

This pottery comes from the town of Hasami in the Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan, where porcelain ware has been created for 400 years.

The HASAMI Porcelain we see today from the name brand HASAMI PORCELAIN is actually designed by an artist out of Venice, California using traditional Japanese manufacturing techniques.

The clean lines and multi-use of each of the HASAMI makes it a great kitchen staple. I love all of the serveware sets and bowls for everyday use.

Where to source

Other Great Japanese Kitchen Essentials

The Ultimate 7 Day Andalucía Itinerary Without a Car

These are more specialized, but you may find yourself using them:

My Favorite Japanese Cookbooks

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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

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Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

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Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

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Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

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I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


1 Comment

  1. Julia Korthäuer Reply

    What a lovely collection! I’m going to have a look out for these items when I’m traveling to Japan in October for the first time. I love your idea of supporting local businesses. Could you please provide me with the blog post/ link to the Kyoto guide for local shops?

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