(I once had call to describe a client's request to micromanage which engineers were working on their account as "The client believes my work product might smell of butter" because my coworkers were dancing around the obvious issue so delicately that a Japanese colleague didn't understand what they weren't saying. That got some stares. "What can I say; I learned nuance from the best.")
"In Japan, butter is used as a symbol of the west, and the term 'batah-kusai' is used to represent western objects or the slavish imitation of western approaches."
(half-assed mediocre translation by me, there's probably a better way to translate 西洋かぶれ in particular)
Kotobank simply has 西洋風である。また、西洋かぶれしている。
My guess is that it's just a 1960s meme that's fallen out of use
Actually, I've never seen or heard of any of the butter-related stuff.. Maybe those butter tools are a regional thing, or they're relatively unknown. I've never seen them on TV, and I couldn't find any butter dishes for sale when I was looking for one in Tokyo, so I ended up having to use a plastic box from the dollar store.
My in-laws were furious when I kept hiding butter in a tray outside of the fridge so it'd stay soft, and all their friends agreed with them that I was being a crazy foreign fool
EDIT: also omg the butter-outside-the-fridge fight is totally a thing
It's not kaizen, it's the perpetual appetite for novelty rather than anything else. Also Japanese TV programs are anything but legit, everything is scripted ahead of time and there's not such thing as a winner which does not happen to buy ads on the same network.
It's built more like a smartphone than a cheap hand tool. Fully machined, no parting lines, very tight tolerances. The plastic is quite strong, maybe nylon. The steel cutter is definitely hardened and non magnetic so possibly stainless.
And in Japanese fashion, as far as I can tell this company only makes plastic cutters
I'm a huge fan of Stylfile clippers , which have a scissor-like cutting action but clipper-like form factor. They were created by one the wonders of the UK version of The Apprentice (but don't let that put you off!).
The main problem is not hand dominance of the user, it's chirality of the scissors themself. When you cut with scissors in the correct hand with a conventional grip, you force blades closer together which helps with a cut, but put the same scissors in the other hand and your fingers will now drag the blades apart.
Hence there are three solutions: you can have a pair of scissors with opposite chirality, you can try to grip wrong chirality scissors such way that you don't drag their blades apart, or you can have high quality scissors with pivot pin tight and strong enough that you will not experience that effect.
The scissors in swiss army knifes/cards for example are both high quality and allow for alternative grips.
Most people use clippers, the scissors usually show up in woman's bags
Unfortunately it's getting harder and harder to find products actually made in Japan, and despite what many people want to believe, Japanese obsession with perfection makes a big difference in the quality of manufactured goods. Makita doesn't manufacture in Japan anymore, and quality has suffered. Fujifilm stopped making several of their lines in Japan, and quality suffered. Very sad.
Japan, incidentally, has a long timber framing tradition that's still relatively common in modern construction. This is part of the reason you'll see Makita and Hitachi tools in your US timberframer's kit; they still make the tools in Japan for the active local market.
I looked at what the best drill-drivers I could reasonably buy were, and there's almost nothing that's not made in China these days. Even Hilti makes its battery powered tools in China.
Mentioned this to a co-worker, and he pointed me to Seki Japanese cutters. Extremely sharp, extremely well made, fantastic. They go through my nails like butter.
At this point, he considers this guy a friend. It’s a really interesting relationship. In my experience, the only similar relationship that most Americans might have is with the person who cuts their hair or with a bartender.
Two shops I remember particularly fondly are in Osaka: Kunishige [0, Japanese only] in the Tenjinbashisuji shopping street and the Sakai Ichimonji  shop in Namba. The latter is in a street full of restaurant suppliers, and several other cutlery shops are nearby. There are similar shops in Kappabashi in Tokyo .
turns out they did a limited release of the pilot myu in 2008. $180 is a bargain. https://www.penaddict.com/blog/2013/1/30/my-fountain-pen-edu...
Sounds silly? It won me over on first sight.
The 5mm Kurutoga is my main pencil of course. I have a nice aluminium one ever since my first plastic body one cracked (after many years of use).
One really nice benefit of the Kurutoga (5mm) is that your writing is really neat and fine as if written with a 3 or 4mm pencil.
Pentel Graphgear 1000 GOAT
But I may have an alternative explanation. The article talks about order and Japanese sensibilities, but to me, a right angle cut in a butter slab doesn't look particularly pleasing.
Instead, what I think it is to make precise cuts easier when the butter is hard, for example if it came out of the fridge. In this case, it can require a significant amount of force to cut through the slab, and making a straight cut can be difficult. With the tool, you push straight down, so you can use more force. And the right angle shape stabilizes the blade during the cut.
Bit vulgar but culturally interesting I thought.
The most popular sandwich spread (bregott, a mix of butter and rapeseed oil) comes in three main variants: “normally” salted, lightly salted, and extra salted.
Proper butter is for cooking but primarily for baking.
I am 45, have been interested in cooking for 20+ years, read many cookbooks and so on. I learned about butter dishes and the idea of having butter out on the counter to make it spreadable from the internet. I dare say that practice does not happen here.
 Butter mixed with vegetable oil and stabilized.
Butter preferences around the world are strange.
The only reason we use unsalted butter is if a recipe specifically calls for it. But it's widely available.
I occasionally also use sold-as-unsalted butter in directly-served applications, because it lets you play with different finishing salts instead of just getting it mixed in with the butter.
There shouldn't be any salt in your butter.
There is no salt in milk, there is no salt in butter.
Unless you want salted butter, in that case you can simply buy a slab of salted butter.
Salted butter was a popular spread in restaurants and consumers wanted it in their homes.
Or simply use a regular knife, either the teeth or the back, depending on the type of cut you want, to scrape the slab's surface.
I love Japanese strive for perfection and their tools, but I feel butter cutting is a solved problem.
 other scraping folk arts: hand-carved toy "christmas trees" with wood curls (originally, I think, suitable for use as tinder. These days we use chemical blocks as starters) and raclette, a dish involving scraping molten blobs off a wheel of cheese.
Everyone who ever looked up a recipe online knows Americans use those 113g 'sticks' of butter (this seems to be the exotic option), but it looks like most regions use bricks/slabs.
The Japanese ones look to be standardized on 200g.
A lot, if not most, of Europe seems to do 250g bricks, which often have a printed measure on the inside of the wrapper to help you cut off 50g pieces for baking.
Canadian butter seems to come in huge unwieldy blocks of 454g (four US 'sticks').
Any other form factors in common use?
You can get a 100g stick, which has pre-cut slots every 10g. This one is easy enough to break evenly with a normal knife:
This is not very far from the standard American 4oz stick, as far as I understand, and for most Japanese households it might be enough.
Beyond that size you can commonly find 150g and 200g slabs in supermarkets, and huge 450g slabs in bulk-oriented supermarkets (like Hanamasa or Gyomu) and specialty shops (like Tomiz). I tend to use butter quite regularly for cooking so I'm generally buying the 450g ones, as it is quite expensive here.
I guess the reason many people here mention they've never seen these kind of tools in Japan, is that you wouldn't find them in a normal house. Relatively few people bake at home here (or even OWN an oven) and butter is mostly used for toasts. If you have an insatiable kodawari (pedantry) for nicely cut butter cubes, I guess you could just go ahead and buy the pre-cut sticks.
I am using the wire grill cutter myself though, so I know it exists. And I'm pretty sure that these different cutters are heavily used in cafe's restaurants, which often serve butter toasts. They tend to serve fancy-looking toasts like this one:
Yes, the toast bread is quite thick (though usually not as much as this), and the butter is frequently served as a perfectly slice on top. So perhaps having tools for perfectly slicing butter in right angle out of bulk-size slabs is not so surprising.
Edit: looks like you all have more than 250g and 500g, but not as much more: https://www.ah.nl/producten/zuivel-eieren/boter
I do prefer the sticks, they seem to keep a little longer and make baking easier.
I usually prefer the sticks, as you don't have to cut the larger slabs.
As a side note though, it’s not just packaging. I’m originally from Germany, and we don’t use salted butter there. In Canada it’s all salted butter by default.
The proper form factor would be a cartridge for a caulking gun. The extra leverage provided by the mechanism means that cold butter works fine, and the protection from air means that warmth doesn't cause much loss of quality.
I cook mostly with (actual genuine) extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil, since I prefer the smell and taste over the more commonly used canola/sunflower oil, and yes you can fry in olive oil just fine. But I still want to see some credible research that supports your claims.
Edit: here's a good article with plenty of citations that strongly disagrees with your claims: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/04/13/ask-...
A couple of interesting points to consider: refined, bleached, deodorized oil such as canola oil is highly processed. Your link warns about highly processed oil in general. Considering how little we seem to be able to nail down scientifically the nutritional value of fat, the focus of the article around the role of fat in diet has a level of certitude I find suspect.
No, it specifically says that there are concerns about them and goes on to explain why those concerns are generally misplaced, e.g. in relation to the use of hexane and the amount of trans fat present.
It also explains that the levels of trans fats are higher in animal fats, especially in beef fat and milk/butter, which you conveniently chose to ignore.
As you can also see, there are references at the bottom of the page, for your further edification.
In contrast, you have provided absolutely no references to your claims, and you apparently refuse to do so.
(Wrapped in paper, not in a box.)
You do need a separate account on this website and you cannot delete the account (unlike Amazon US).
Shipping from Amazon Japan is faster than from Amazon US if you are not an Amazon Prime user.
As far as shipping to the USA, YMMV, but when you can order items with delivery here then it's super awesome and generally fairly quick (aside from during COVID times with slower logistics).
The UK is my go-to source for black market medical products. You can get contacts shipped without a prescription because its not required in the UK. Also some OTC cosmetics and sunscreen is way better because they don't drag their feet on approving new ingredients for 20 years like the FDA.
We generally keep at least 100g of butter in our butter dish (i.e. under a cover) on the kitchen countertop, more if it's not summer.
As a child in the west of Ireland, we'd go through a pound of butter a week. I can't even find butter sold by the pound (or 500g - I'm not fussy) in the UK, blocks are generally 250g.
Pretty much all I use butter for is omelets, but that's every breakfast.
The owners own a creamery up in Marin, and they make their own cultured butter in house. At $14 for an 8 oz block it is much more expensive than the stuff at Safeway, but it has a totally different taste.
CH: 3,5% 2,5% fat
US: 3,25% 2% 1% 0% fat
American milk can't be sold in Europe because of how adulterated it is with hormones and antibiotics. Meanwhile, European dairy products intended for export to the states still have to satisfy European dairy standards.
I bake a lot and I can taste the difference.
And the butter cover looks about the same size as ours.
Takes advantage of butter being hydrophobic, and stores it upside down!
I think I am gonna buy this one.
It seems Butter Cutter(lattice shaped one) can only be used for "soft" butter, but it must be helpful anyway.
There’s something funny about inventing a tool to solve a problem that only exists for such a simple cultural reason (assuming butter goes bad quickly if not refrigerated)
Also, really odd how this article thinks of normal, unsliced butter— normal to everywhere else in the world but the US as some kind of pre-technological tradition.
edit: a friend pointed out to me that in lots of other places in the world, butter probably just melts to the point of becoming useless, so it has to be kept refrigerated, which is something I never considered before, feel pretty dumb about that
I have a problem with articles that usually either try to bash or over-romanticize Japan. Could definitely use more articles like this one.
There are obviously some differences in how the Japanese eat stuff, but in general I can't say that Japanese are noticeably fussier when it comes to daily dining habits.
I think visitors often get the wrong impressions because what they see is:
1. Nice restaurants (not necessarily expensive ones), which are very particular about how they serve their food.
2. Enthusiastic hosts who go out of their way for infrequent guests - especially guests from abroad.
It all boils down to omotenashi - to be exoticizing a little, that's the Japanese spirit of treating guests with the utmost welcome.
To be more down to earth, this is all about cultural expectations. Restaurants and cafes try to present a perfect-looking dish, because this is how they are judged by their customers. Some (not all!) hosts might go out of their way and serve using their best dishes, trying to make restaurant-looking food to make good first impressions on a guest.
Culture, here, is part of the local culture: one of the three butters I regularly stock is always a little rancid. It is also unpasteurized a la mode Normande.
(Apologies to actual French people.)
There's top quality butters to be had, but the supermarket stuff isn't it. Maybe try a local farmer's market if you're not up for huge blocks? I find they have wonderful honeys and butters if you find the right one.
Haven't found one of the big blocks you're referring to. Where are they stocked?
Although that is a literal meaning, -kusai functions as a suffix which creates an adjective from a noun indicating that something has the quality of that noun, and that the quality is undesirable. In this role, it doesn't indicate a smell.
It basically means "-like" or "-ish", with a negative slant.
For instance "ao" refers to the blue/green color and also to an unripe state of plants or immature state. "aokusai" refers to a raw vegetable taste or smell, like cut grass, or something unripe for consumption; also to an inexperienced person, greenhorn.
"inakakusai": unsophisticated hick, country bumpkin.
"mendoukusai": troublesome, bothersome.
"usokusai": seemingly false, contrived, questionable. ("uso" -> lie).
"oshiroikusai": (it. smelling of face powder) coquettish.
Btw, our German butter tableware is nothing to be sneezed at, either. Here is my butter dish (to be fair, designed by an American):
Might it be that this is just lost knowledge?
when i moved to the united states many many years ago...i kept trying to extract cream from full fat milk and couldnt figure out why i kept failing. having never had store bought homogenised milk before, i had to learn full fat isnt truly 'full fat'. gnarly!
Maybe it's an acquired and/or cultural taste, but it certainly isn't what I prefer :-)