All About Japan

3 of Japan's Finest Kitchen Knives

| Handicrafts , The Wonder 500

Here are three blades—or blade sets—sharpened not for the exploits of a samurai warrior, but instead for the kitchen connoisseur!

3. Kamaasa Shoten Knives & Rice Kettle (Tokyo)

Kamaasa Shoten is an established shop founded in 1908 located on Kappabashi, Japan’s most famous shopping street for tools, located in the Asakusa district. Kamaasa carries only tools handmade in the traditional method, including Nambu-style ironware, iron pots, knives, etc. They are all masterpieces and the foundation of Japanese cuisine. Out of respect for the region of origin and the craftspeople, the knives are offered unbranded. Even so, these knives are immediately recognizable for their quality and are highly regarded.

2. Honcho-Kobo: 3 Basic Household Knives (Niigata)

The city of Sanjo in Niigata Prefecture has prospered as a blacksmithing town for about 400 years. The blacksmithing shop Tadafusa has been making knives in Sanjo for 67 years. It is offering the series called Hocho-Kobo Tadafusa, which is a select collection of three knives for household use chosen from 800 different knives.

While they have a natural, moderate appearance, their main feature is their sharpness, achieved with a complete three-layer structure made with SLD Copper Stainless Steel. The handles are highly waterproof and antibacterial. A patented manufacturing method for antibacterial carbonization of the wood uses neither chemical coating nor resin treatment, so the warmth of the wood and functionality are retained. The basic three, the bread knife, the all-purpose kitchen knife and the petty knife, represent the basic cooking knives. The bread knife with a serrated edge at the tip in particular is amazingly sharp. This exceptional knife cuts smoothly and leaves few crumbs.

1. Artus 18 Knife (Fukui)

Echizen Uchi Hamono are cutlery products in Echizen (the old name for Fukui) that have a superb sharpness made by a 700-year-old traditional hand-forging process. However, its survival became threatened 40 years ago by the rise of mass production.

Takefu Knife Village is a cooperative association where the techniques of master craftsmen that would not ordinarily leave their own premises are assembled. In order to breathe new life into Japanese cutlery, it partnered with local industrial designers to develop the Artus series, each of which is integrated from handle to blade tip. The cutlery is prized for its almost unapproachable sense of cleanliness—forms alive with Japanese taste, good balance, and sharpness.

Above all, the main purpose of the knife is to fit the user’s intended use. Innovative, yet not reliant on novelty, these lifelong-lasting products were created in a quest for functional beauty.