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Buying Japanese Knives in Japan

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(Pleased to meet you all. What a forum of delights!) Japanese knives: I use a *bunka-bocho* for most cooking jobs, i.e. the typical multi-purpose knife with a 6-7 cm (2.5"?) wide blade, pointed at the tip. In Tokyo, you'd buy first-class knives in Kappabashi (near Ueno station), an area where the pros buy their kitchen gear and restaurant interior stuff; or near/in Tsukiji, the huge wholesale (fish) market which, quite by the way, is the most amazing place in all of Tokyo anyway. Go early in the morning, like 7 or 8 am. Or (to return to knives) in one of the knife shops in the Ginza; or in a department store in the Ginza (where prices will be higher, probably).

Ignorant amateur's question: I am about to buy another Japanese knife myself. Friend says to get "molybdenum steel" which reportedly does not rust as easily as carbon steel yet can be sharpened just like carbon steel.

Is that right?

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There is a uniques way of twisting and turning metal called "damascus steel making". Its the most expensive and highest quality of knifemaking I have seen. The knives are extremely dense and razor sharp. There are a wide range of custom damascus steel producers that make just about any shape of knife. The knives sometimes develop almost a rainbow like effest from the repetetive heating ang cooling of the metal. Check this out and this too.


Edited by inventolux (log)

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Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

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Anchan, welcome.

Great link, invento.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Ignorant amateur's question: I am about to buy another Japanese knife myself. Friend says to get "molybdenum steel" which reportedly does not rust as easily as carbon steel yet can be sharpened just like carbon steel.

Is that right?

Moly knives are too hard. Its basic physics, if the knife is harder than the sharpening stone then it will take forever to sharpen. Carbon knives nowadays are fairly resistant to rusting as long as you wipe your knife clean and take care of it. The best custom knife forgers always stay away from stainless alloys (like moly) because the knives arent great for retaining a true razor edge. I can literally shave myself with my knives which are all carbon based damascus style knives. They require careful attention but are well worth it in the end. Some of these damascus knife makers actually use a touch of nickel in their mixtures to resist the rusting and it still enables you to have the advantages of carbon steel.


Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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There is a uniques way of twisting and turning metal called "damascus steel making". Its the most expensive and highest quality of knifemaking I have seen.

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....

http://www.suisin.co.jp/English/japanesekn...information.htm

http://www.japanese-knife.com/Merchant2/me...Code=HAR-KA1xxx (aritsugu hongasumi damascus yanagi)

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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.cutleryandmore.com/shop/details...683&src=BizRate :shock:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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....

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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.

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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.

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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.com/houtyou/kitchen/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.

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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


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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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:


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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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.com/houtyou/kitchen/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


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

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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?

mei.jpg


Edited by JC (log)

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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).

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

mei.jpg

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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

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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 (log)

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