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View Full Version : Kane Soh Yanagi-ba



a.lber.to
03-14-2012, 05:51 PM
If you read my intro in the new members' forum, you may perhaps remember that in it I say: "Almost 20 years ago, during my first business trip to Japan, I bought a nice Yangi-ba, which - over the first half of its life - probably did not get nearly any of the respect it deserved." Now, I haven't been back to Tokyo since, but I still have the knife, which by now - after I learned the ropes sharpening it - could definitely use a some tender loving care and a new handle.

As I will be heading to Tokyo in about a month's time, I thought that perhaps I could track down where I had bought my knife at the time, and see if I could get them to give it a second youth. Well, I went to google maps, and tried to trace my way back using the satellite view, remembering what the man at the Economics Ministry had told me at the time... Asakusa subway stop, walk down until I see a temple gate to my right, walk past many closed stalls (it was late at night), and then take the first or second left (I could not remember), until you see what will probably be the only open shop in the whole area.

Well, I'll be damned! Not only was I able to track down the store, but it turns out that I had been given quite good advice at the time, as I had ended up buying a 230mm Kane Soh Yanagi-ba in blue steel! What is even more surprising, besides the store still being there, of course, is that they are still making the exact same knife I had bought at the time: http://www.kanesoh.com/SHOP/WY-02H.html !!!

So, I have now decided to take the knife back with me to Japan, and bring it back to its maker. I am hoping to be able to ask him to repolish and resharpen the blade, and to change the knife's handle while he is at it... hopefully, he will be willing to do it.

I will let you know how it went once i am back... and I will post some before and after photos if I succeeded!

tk59
03-14-2012, 05:56 PM
Interesting. I wonder if they'd do it for you. Very curious.

Johnny.B.Good
03-14-2012, 06:18 PM
Nice detective work. I will be interested to hear how this goes too.

stevenStefano
03-14-2012, 07:49 PM
Pretty cool story. Hopefully someone in the shop has been there since you bought the knife. Maybe because you've had it so long they'll refinish the blade on the cheap for you

Tristan
03-15-2012, 12:43 AM
That's a really good price for a blue steel Yani...

slowtyper
03-15-2012, 12:56 AM
Very cool story. Can you post up what store you bought it from and a link to the streetview pic?

And just out of curiosity, do you remember how much you paid?

a.lber.to
03-15-2012, 07:18 AM
The store is called Kane Soh, and their web site is http://www.kanesoh.com/ I understand that they have been selling knives in that exact location for 5 generations now. Unfortunately, streetview does not seem to have gone down that particular side street (more of a narrow alley, really, as when I bought the knife I remember being kind of worried walking down it in the dark with everything else shuttered down).

When I had walked into the store at the time, I remember that they had three display windows on the walls, and a long counter (all in a shop which was the size of a pretty decent closet). When I asked the owner of the shop for a Yanagi-ba, in my very halting Japanese, he immediately pointed to the obviously-less-expensive set of the three, while I pointed at the obviously-best set. After much gesticulating, we seemed to finally settle on the middle range, which I now understand must have been the blue steel set (with the other being their ordinary line, and their professional line, from what I now see on their web site).

Much as they apparently still do today, after I chose the knife, the owner plopped down behind the counter and spent 20 minutes sharpening the knife for me, finishing on a large barber's leather strop. He then took a sheet of newspaper, and very prowdly sliced it in half vertically roughly 3 inches away from where he was holding it!!! This may be my memory playing tricks on me, but the picture of the older guy in a blue shirt which I have seen on the internet here and there really reminds me of the guy (also in a blue shirt!) who sold me the knife at the time...

I do not remember exactly how much I actually paid or the knife, but I had set my budgetto 10,000 JPY, so it should not have been more than that. This would mean that the price went up by 40% in 20 years.

a.lber.to
03-15-2012, 09:37 AM
Hopefully someone in the shop has been there since you bought the knife.

They make their own knives, and the three characters which make up the name of the store are the same ones punched on the knife blade (this is how I figured out in the end that I had the right place!). So they should not have any problems recognizing the knife as one of theirs, even if 20 years later...

shankster
03-15-2012, 10:11 AM
I love the Google translation for the 135mm stainless clad petty "not rust even if you turn off the fruit" :D classic...

SameGuy
03-15-2012, 12:22 PM
Wow, right now that's less than $200. Good price!

DeepCSweede
03-15-2012, 12:38 PM
Can't wait to hear how it turns out. How is your Japanese now?

Wouldn't be surprised if they work it up for you though. Good luck.

zitangy
03-15-2012, 01:05 PM
They would most probably do it, resharpening and rehandling and offer you a cup of tea whilst you wait....

Most high carbon steel would slowly rust in the handle over the years with water getting in thru the neck ferule area. Other than that, I believe they would be more than happy to see an old loyal customer and it may be a wonderful surprise if it is still the same old man who sold it to you... A trip down memory lane.....

Reminds me of story I read many years ago in Excellence magazine.. An enthusiastic car boasts to Ferdinand Porche of how well he has kept his 22 year old 911 in its original beautiful condition adn he was going on and on.... and Porsche's reply was full of praises adn ended with the statement.. " we make newer models you know..."

So have fun and good luck...

a.lber.to
03-15-2012, 05:15 PM
Wow, right now that's less than $200. Good price!

Not only do they seem to have very good prices, but they are also apparently quite reputed among professional chefs:
http://www.thatsmags.com/beijing/article/detail/226/the-perfect-cut

a.lber.to
03-15-2012, 05:28 PM
How is your Japanese now?

Still inexistant, but I asked a Japanese colleague to write me a note explaining what I wanted, so that I can hand it to them when I get there!

SameGuy
03-15-2012, 08:23 PM
When will you be there? I plan to spend an afternoon in Asakusa/Kappabashi on the 9th of April.

a.lber.to
03-16-2012, 07:44 AM
When will you be there? I plan to spend an afternoon in Asakusa/Kappabashi on the 9th of April.

Ciao Francesco. Unfortunately, I will be in Tokyo from the 16th to the 21st of April (then on to a great onsen for a few days, and then Kyoto for a week).

SameGuy
03-16-2012, 10:52 AM
Wow, nice! Enjoy yourself!

For me, I just added it as a layover returning from Australia and New Zealand, going the wrong way -- I decided I want to fly the A380 (SYD-SIN) and 787 (HND-FRA) while I'm on vacation. I'm an airplane geek, too. :)

a.lber.to
03-16-2012, 11:40 AM
I decided I want to fly the A380 (SYD-SIN) and 787 (HND-FRA) while I'm on vacation. I'm an airplane geek, too. :)

I flew one not too long ago, between Paris and Johannesburg and back, and I was disappointed to discover that Air France has invented a new concept in it: they have sooo many business class seats on the top deck, that you basically get business class accomodation with econ-level service! The few staff were simply too busy to properly deal with that many business class passangers! But the plain is - literally - awesome!

SameGuy
03-16-2012, 04:40 PM
Yes, they fly it here (Montreal) from CDG and I've heard similar reports.

I hope there are seats on the 787 though!

bieniek
03-18-2012, 09:40 AM
Im anxious tio know how this is going to play itself out

SameGuy
03-18-2012, 12:13 PM
I can't wait, too! I really hope the same fellow is at the shop and Alberto gets to chat with him, and go over some of the knife's history. Imagine if that same gentleman then gives new life to the knife? How cool is that?

a.lber.to
03-18-2012, 02:01 PM
That would be very cool indeed, and it's what I am hoping will happen myself!

From reading on the web, I now understand that the store is run by two brothers who appear somewhat old in pictures, so the chances are high that one of them sold me the knife all those years ago. He will obviously not remember me, but I may be able to recognize him...

Between getting this knife restored and picking up my three Hattori KDs, this trip should definitely become memorable from a kitchen knife perspective!!! :)