A home kitchen in Japan is typically filled with all kinds of electronic gadgets. Yet there are some food preparation tools that are so useful that they have remained the same, and in steady use, for hundreds of years.

In addition to a set of good sharp knives, such much-loved traditional items may be worth making space for, and what better place to start than with the suribachi and surikogi, the Japanese mortar and pestle, and a collection of fine graters called oroshiki or oroshigane.

A suribachi is a pottery bowl with a glazed exterior and rim and an unglazed interior. What makes suribachi different from other mortars is that the unglazed interior is scored with diagonally spiraling ridges called kushime or kushinome, meaning comb pattern. The ridges not only facilitate the pulverizing of seeds, nuts and so on, but they also extract oils and moisture from food more efficiently than a mortar with a smooth surface.