In 1989 or so, I went to Fujisawa City on a work assignment to the Isuzu Motor company. It was the trip of a lifetime! I stayed in an Enlish speaking hotel, but virtually all the other places I visited spoke only Japanese, even the taxi drivers. Luckily, a work companion picked me up and dropped me off daily for about 10 weeks, a Japanese native. So, he was able to take me around to shop for the tools I needed for work as a clay modeler because my tools were being shipped from The US and had not arrived on time. We ended up in a small shop about 10 or 12 ft feet wide on the drive to the plant one day where they sold wood working chisels, slicks and planes. Apparently I was one of the very few customers to enter the shop and the older woman behind the counter was really glad to sell some of the merchandise. The boxes were dusty from years of sitting on the shelf and the prices were just as far back into the past. My friend commented to me that they were real "bargains" and I bought everything I saw that I could use, even though they were not strictly for the job assignment, modeling in clay.
It was my first introduction to Japanese steel, the finest hand wrought in the world at that time as far as I know. I ended up with a couple of slicks, the long wood handled heavy bladed type for pushing away thicker slices on large timbers, a goose neck or offset chisel or two, and some spoon gouges for carving. I didn't venture into the hand planes they are so famous for, reluctantly now. I wouldn't have clue where the place is/was so I can't pass on any further information. What I do remember is there is a large department store, kinda like Sears where I found some additional hand tools. I also took up water color painting as there was not a lot to do in the evenings on my own. They have some wonderful intense inks/dyes that make for very intense colors on their great rice water color paper. I had shipped my 10 speed and I would venture away from the hotel as far as I could and still see the neon sign on the top of the building. I got to see a cool timber frame temple from the outside and other really great wooden gates that are typical of the private homes.
The hospitality of the Japanese people is par none, and my design companion and I were treated like royalty for our contributions to their project. A Saturday night going away party with flowers, great food and gifts from the management was unusual, as they do not spend time away from their families except on rare occasions. I was really honored.