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Buying Japanese Knives in Japan


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#31 Sugar Toad

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 06:43 PM

I'm looking for a high quality Chinese veggie cleaver.  Anybody know where to find them in the U.S.  I paid 40 yaun ($5) for one in China and I can't come close to it with any of the cleavers I have seen for sale here. :wacko:

hanks everybody, I think I have found the cleaver I have been looking for.

http://www.cutleryan...683&src=BizRate :shock:

#32 JC

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 01:38 AM

hanks everybody, I think I have found the cleaver I have been looking for.
http://www.cutleryan...683&src=BizRate :shock:

That's certainly a nice Chinese cleaver, but a lot more than the $5 you paid in China.

#33 JC

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 01:48 AM

I thought damascus knives fall under kasumi forging method which involves the blending of metals with different degrees of hardness. This eases sharpening but does not hold it's edge as long. Whereas the most expensive knives are honyaki forged which is a single hard unblended steel folded many times, similar to japanese swords . Benefit being, a knife that holds an edge longer but is difficult to sharpen without experience. My understanding anyway....

The kasumi method and damascus are two different things. Even though both involve combining two or more metals together, the style of combining them differs.

Kasumi involves laminating a core of harder steel with sides of softer steel (kinda like a sandwich). The blade appearance is normal.

For damascus, the steels are sandwiched and then folded repeatedly until it forms many layers. It is then etched and the resulting blade displays the beautiful patterns you see.

#34 goyatofu

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Posted 11 September 2003 - 07:49 PM

sorry if I'm reviving an old topic...but I just returned from Japan on a quest of finding knives.

One obstacle I ran into: finding export knives. Apparently they don't sell export knives (duh on my part) someone had asked me to find them a "Kasumi" brand knive (not the knive-making process; the brand). When I asked about this, the guy said "never heard of this brand". And when I said it was sold in North America, he said, "we don't sell exports here in Japan, they are second-rate stuff, so we ship them overseas." :sad: I don't have the nerve to tell the person who wanted this knive what they said....

I was able to get my hands on a Misono UX10 for 30% less than US price...but I'm wondering if they're secretly laughing at me because this model is also for "export"...sigh..I guess at least I got what I went for. I also swiped a Kyocera ceramic for only $30 US!! Now that's a deal! :biggrin:

#35 helenjp

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Posted 14 September 2003 - 01:36 AM

I bought most of my knives in the Osaka douguysan-doori over 20 years ago...all traditional knives. I'll check the names later and post if anybody is interested, but I can say this...the yanagi and the na-kiri, with rather light blades and plain whitewood handles, have rusted very easily (they were stored for some time). My deba and another all-purpose knife (wide like a na-kiri, but rounded at the tip (unlike a western knife which has a rounded cutting edge at the tip, it is rounded down from the top to the straight cutting edge) both have reddish handles with a strong woodgrain, and heavy blades. They have been much more resistant to rust, and I use them a lot -- the weight of the deba is great for cutting through bones or sinews, and the sharp-angled point makes it great for tricky jobs too. I prefer a na-kiri for slicing vegies thinly, but the multi-purpose knife makes it out of the drawer first every time because I like the heavier weight!

I also have a tiny aji knife, specifically for gutting those tiny fish, but it is also a great attractor of rust, no help when working with brine to make home-made himono.

The best-used of my collection for general purposes??? It's my trusty 25-year old cheapie "Kaicut" stainless steel knife, bought at a Daimaru Peacock supermarket at my local station in Osaka...it's a good size for my huge hands, sharpens readily, and holds a cutting edge for a reasonable time.

#36 goyatofu

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Posted 14 September 2003 - 07:02 AM

good thing I didn't buy any carbon knives at douguysan-doori then! The store I went to was called "Ichi-monji" and that's their own brand. I was salivating over the deba, very close to buying one and I stopped myself.

I wouldn't know what to do with the rust! Although the lady at the store swore up and down that carbon was better than stainless steel, she said all you need to do is rub it with a wine cork to remove the rust....

#37 helenjp

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 05:38 PM

I do have some ichi-monji knives, and yes, they did rust worse than some of the others...but as I said, these knives were in storage. I had them in a box in a dry place, and my helpful mother moved them to the basement...

I sanded mine with 360 or 400 grit then 600 grit wet sandpaper, then buffed them with a cream abrasive, using the stem end of a daikon or carrot. Then I re-polished them on a medium and a fine emery stone. Not perfect, but much better. They actually need the blades professionally reground, as they have a few nicks -- they're over 20 years old now.

#38 JC

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 05:27 AM

goyatofu...

Welcome back!

You need to be aware that it's common for some brands to be made by other people. It's the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) business process where the actual manufacturing is outsourced to another company. That's probably the case with Kasumi. "Kasumi" is just a brand (probably owned by a non-Japanese co) and the maker will be someone else, which is why when you mention "Kasumi" they aren't familiar with it.

But it's interesting what the person said about export knives, though I'm skeptical if it's true that these are 2nd rate stuff. This would amount to "dumping".

As for the Misono UX-10, I know that it's also sold locally in Japan (obviously, since you managed to buy it there) so I don't think your model is for export only. Also Misono itself is a manufacturer based in Seki. Hey, let us know how you like the UX-10. Review please.

#39 JC

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 05:26 AM

Hi all,

I'll be going to Tokyo in 2 weeks and am looking to get more Japanese knives. Came across this website which has some knives I'm interested in... trouble is I don't understand much of the description. Only thing I know is the steel is V-Gold 10 (right?).

http://www.ehamono.c.../marukatsu.html

Any kind soul out there who could give me a rundown on what the page says about the knives and the maker?

Thanks in advance.

#40 torakris

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 05:40 PM

I was hoping someone else would tackle this question because I know nothing about knives.....

Here goes anyway

The little blurb about the knife is writtn by one person who visited the shop of this 5th generation knife maker and bought a knife. He comments that he used it every day and that after 2 months of constant use it still beautifully slices onions and tomatoes without even one sharpening. He also says that the tip of the knife curves ever so gently while cutting and that unlike other knives that curve this one slices perfectly.

Then there is the general information about the knife
made from high carbon stainless V gold 10 with
1.0% carbon
15% Chromium
1.0% Molybdenum
0.2% Vanadium
1.5% Cobalt

It is good as an all-purpose every day knife

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#41 torakris

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 05:51 PM

Forgot to say it is a tanzou (hammered?) and it also of the suminagashi style which I am not sure what this exactly means as I could only find a couple references on google to this and still couldn't figure it out. :blink:

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#42 wesza

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 08:07 PM

Hi all,

I'll be going to Tokyo in 2 weeks and am looking to get more Japanese knives. Came across this website which has some knives I'm interested in... trouble is I don't understand much of the description. Only thing I know is the steel is V-Gold 10 (right?).

http://www.ehamono.c.../marukatsu.html

Any kind soul out there who could give me a rundown on what the page says about the knives and the maker?

Thanks in advance.

I just received a gift thanking me for some advice that i'd provided to a major Japanese Restaurant/Food Products principal several years ago that was a big surprise.

This was a Japanese Santoku Knife, manufactured by Hattori that is incredable.

It's much sharper they my Wustoff Classic with the Granton edge, my Mac or Globe. I have all types of knifes accumulated thru the years that I use, compare and enjoy. But this knife is entirely in its own class. It's the first knife i've ever owned that i've felt in awe about. I've looked them up on the internet and they are available even on eBay at what seems to be a resonable price considering their quality. I had thought that the Wustoft and Globes were very good, but considering the difference in price there is no comparison to the edge, feel or quality plus the Hattori is like a piece of art that you can use and enjoy for many years.

Irwin
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#43 JC

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 01:04 AM

torakris,

Thanks for the translation. Gave me what I needed to know. FYI, "suminagashi" refers to the ink-pattern swirls on the surface of the blade, which is a result of the steel being folded. This is an aesthetic effect. In the west, this is commonly called "damascus" (also a result of folding steel) but actually the patterns for "suminagashi" are quite different in style.

Ok, so it is VG-10 steel. Again, this is a superb stainless steel that can take a very sharp edge and hold it well.

One more thing, I suppose the pictures at the bottom of the page are of the maker and shows how he makes these knives? Does it say where he's from?

Lastly, what is the brand of the knife as written on the blade?

Posted Image

Edited by JC, 07 December 2003 - 01:07 AM.


#44 JC

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 01:11 AM

wesza,

Good on you. Hattori is a very fine maker from Seki, Japan. Their knives are known for being very sharp and well balanced. The core steel is VG-10 and you would no doubt notice the beautiful "suminagashi" patterns on the surface (this is a 63-layer nickel steel).

#45 ankomochi

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 08:24 AM

Lastly, what is the brand of the knife as written on the blade?

Posted Image

Hi, JC!

The first two character referes to the name of knife Mater ECHIZEN. (Mr. Marukatsu Asai is the fifth generation of Echizen knife maker.) The thrid and the fourth character is the name of this knife maker, MARUKATSU, and the last character is, I assume it means "made by." So, it basically said this knife is made by Mr. Echizen Marukatsu.
Check out the latest meal!
Itadakimasu

#46 wesza

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 04:33 PM

wesza,

Good on you. Hattori is a very fine maker from Seki, Japan. Their knives are known for being very sharp and well balanced. The core steel is VG-10 and you would no doubt notice the beautiful "suminagashi" patterns on the surface (this is a 63-layer nickel steel).

This is not the knife i've received. It's in a Wooden Box and is appearently made from Cowry X Steel and has a Micarta Handle it has Suminagashi patterns and a Red Chop on the Surface. The knife you've discribed seems to be the same as what's offered on ebay, but it's not similar to my knife.

Irwin
I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

#47 JC

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 04:08 AM

wesza,

Wow, in that case you received their ultimate KD-30 series knife. Yes, it uses a Cowry X steel core with a 121-layer 'damascus' outer. It's handmade and one of the most expensive santokus on the planet (list price is ¥100,000). A very fine gift indeed and speaks volumes of the valuable advice you must have given.

Say, ever had trouble sharpening it? Bear in mind the Cowry X steel is hardened to about Rc 67-68.

#48 JC

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 04:16 AM

Hi ankomochi.

Thanks for the translation. Ah, it makes sense! The maker follows the Echizen style of cutlery (Echizen Uchi-hamono), which is around the Fukui prefecture. Echizen is one of several traditional centers of cutlery in Japan. The other major cutlery areas are Sakai, Tosa, Echigo-Yoita and Shinshu.

#49 wesza

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 03:15 PM

wesza,

Wow, in that case you received their ultimate KD-30 series knife. Yes, it uses a Cowry X steel core with a 121-layer 'damascus' outer. It's handmade and one of the most expensive santokus on the planet (list price is ¥100,000). A very fine gift indeed and speaks volumes of the valuable advice you must have given.

Say, ever had trouble sharpening it? Bear in mind the Cowry X steel is hardened to about Rc 67-68.

JC: This isn't what I consider a "Knife", i'm overwhelmed by the price it would cost as i'd checked the prices on eBay and appearently the "Hattori", listed there was expensive, but not intimidatingly so at $120.00 approximately.

A friend who called and advised me this morning that this "Knife", is available at over $1,000.00. I'm not comfortable beating up any knife that expensive just for fun cooking. I'll put it in the vault or someplace until I have to compete in Iron Chef or something similar. Maybe at the "James Beard House", except when i used to cook there for fun all the knifes that James and I used were Forschner.[Still my all around favorites]

I do still take pleasure using some old Carbon Steel Butcher Knifes that I received when a friend retired after selling his farm and butcher shop, for the Westbury, N.Y. Shopping Center [Roosevelt Something] as there is something gratifying about working with Carbon Steel.

I've always used the bottom of a Old Japanese Ceramic Plate for keeping Knife edges sharp, and have never been satisfied with the professional grinding methods. If I actually need to Sharpen a Knife,[ almost never] I use a Three Way Professional Oil Stone set up in a wood box that over 50 years old.

Are you familiar with some Japanese Knifes that are made for Left Handed cutting?

Being a lefty i'm curious if this makes a difference, as I appreciate using Left Handed Sissors.

Thank you for the one up.

Irwin
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#50 JC

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 05:28 PM

The other Hattoris you see on ebay are from the 'cheaper' Unryu series. Still fantastic knives of course. The one you have is available from Blade Gallery at a 'measly' $980 :biggrin: - see here Seriously, it's a beautiful knife and apart from you I know of only one other person who has one.

As for left handed knives... this applies only to traditional japanese knives (usuba, yanagiba, deba), which are single beveled for right handers. The idea is when you slice, the fish/veggie falls to the right (as you are cutting from right to left). The reverse for lefties. Left handed knives are usually made to order, which means the price goes up and usually no stock on hand.

This issue of left/right handedness doesn't apply to most other knives because they are double beveled.

Edited by JC, 08 December 2003 - 05:32 PM.


#51 prasantrin

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 07:40 PM

A friend who called and advised me this morning that this "Knife", is available at over $1,000.00. I'm not comfortable beating up any knife that expensive just for fun cooking. I'll put it in the vault or someplace until I have to compete in Iron Chef or something similar. Maybe at the "James Beard House", except when i used to cook there for fun all the knifes that James and I used were Forschner.[Still my all around favorites]

For what it's worth, I have a few Japanese friends with knives in the same price range, and they use them as every day knives. It would be a shame if you didn't use it at least a few times. That's what they gave it to you for, after all :smile: .

#52 wesza

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 11:58 PM


A friend who called and advised me this morning that this "Knife", is available at over $1,000.00. I'm not comfortable beating up any knife that expensive just for fun cooking. I'll put it in the vault or someplace until I have to compete in Iron Chef or something similar. Maybe at the "James Beard House", except when i used to cook there for fun all the knifes that James and I used were Forschner.[Still my all around favorites]

For what it's worth, I have a few Japanese friends with knives in the same price range, and they use them as every day knives. It would be a shame if you didn't use it at least a few times. That's what they gave it to you for, after all :smile: .

I've been using the Hattori for several weeks, but since I generally work quite fast, and tend to push my knifes into doing more variations then normally anticipated, I sometimes may be more abusive since it's treated primarily as a versitile working tool. I'd rather use this quality knife when i'm only doing a specific job suited for what the knife is made to do, that way it will be treated with the respect it deserves.

If you've got a Rolls Royce you're not going to treat it like your 4 wheel drive SUV, well my Hattori has become my Rolls Knife.

For the type of cutting I generally do I seem to prefer a Properly made Granton Edged Knife, of which there are very few in the marketplace. The good ones can sure take a beating.

Irwin
I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

#53 emsny

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 09:55 AM

JC tells us that there are two Masamoto knifemakers in Tokyo, one at Sumida and the other at Tsukiji. Is this like Sabatier in the fragmented old days? Certainly, there were vast quality differences then (I speak of late 1960s, early 1970s Sabatiers). I ask for this reason: I ordered a western-shaped Masamoto from Korin a while ago and had to return it because, while the blade was quite good, the handle was like a junior high school shop project: projecting metal made it enormously uncomfortable to use. Are the Tsukiji Masamotos different/better? Or is it a completely different outfit - different steel, different shapes, different sharpening, etc.? I'll be in Tokyo for a few days in April, and this information will find a practical application.

Thanks.

#54 meguroman

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 03:52 AM

I have a question....where would you go to purchase knives in Japan? (sorry, have been to Japan several times but I wasn't shopping for knives those times). Is there specialty kitchen stores? All I remember is that Tokyu Hands carry Global (but I really don't want to buy Global)



I've gotten all of my knives at Kappabashi Knife Company, in Kappabashi. Their prices are anywhere from 20%-30% cheaper than Tokyu Hands.

I've got a Glestain chef's knife, and absolutely hate the balance of it. For heavy work, I use a Wusthof-Trident chef's knife. But, I'm absolutely head-over-heels in love with my Global-Pro knives (chef's, boning, and petty). And, using the Global Shinkansen knife sharpener, bringing them back to their factory hone is a breeze!

Yoshikin/Global Website

#55 JC

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 03:52 AM

I'm actually looking for some help in contacting a knife maker from Sanjo City. If someone who live in or near Sanjo City can help, please post here.

Thanks in advance.

#56 Hiroyuki

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 06:10 AM

I live in Niigata prefecture, but not near Sanjo city. Anyway, I managed to find one site in English that may interest you:
http://www.watanabeb...glish/index.htm
I wonder what specific information you need. You want to buy a knife?

#57 JC

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 05:14 PM

Hi Hiroyuki,

Yes, I'm looking to buy a knife from a specific maker. His name is Tokifusa Iizuka (or better known as Shigefusa) from Sanjo City.

Posted Image

There are some US websites that sell his knives, but I don't live in USA. Besides, I find it much better to get knives from the source.

#58 Hiroyuki

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Posted 17 August 2004 - 03:34 AM

I made an inquiry to one specific dealer in Sanjo, and I have just received a reply from him:

Dear xxxx:
I'm Juumi of Hamono No Juumi.
We can ship Shigefusa's products overseas.
We will ship them by EMS international mail.
As you may know, however, we were safe from the Igarashi River bank rip here on July 13, but the workshop of Shigefusa, also known as Tokifusa Iizuka, was flooded above floor level, and cannot resume operation yet. I think he will start operation around October.
Usually, he needs about 90 days to delivery on a make to order basis.
It is expected that due to this disaster, it will take about one year for the time to delivery to return to normal.
We have some items in stock, and other than those, we have to request you to wait.
We will contact you as soon as your product is finished, and we will ship it after receipt of payment.
We look forward to serving you.
(Translated by me)

***
You can contact the dealer at
webmaster@jumi.co.jp

Dealer's website (Japanese only):
http://www.jumi.co.jp/

#59 JC

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Posted 19 August 2004 - 05:39 AM

Thanks for your help Hiroyuki.

I hope Jumi understands English because I cannot communicate with him in Japanese.

#60 Hiroyuki

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 05:23 AM

Tonight, he replied as follows:

I am not good at speaking English, but I think I can manage to read and write.