View Full Version : Knife tales of Japan...

05-01-2012, 10:32 AM
Hello everyone.

As some of you may recall from my previous posts, I just spent two weeks in Japan for holidays (wonderful place!!!). While I was travelling with my wife and a friend, both of whom are not really interested in knives, I had decided to dedicate some of my time in Tokyo to kitchen knives.

My first mission was to pick up the two Hattori KD knives I had found on-line while researching my trip: the 150mm Petty and a 180mm Santoku. When I actually got to the store to pick those up, I discovered that they also had in stock a 210mm Gyuto (which I promptly bought), as well as a second 150mm Petty (which is still there, AFAIK). Later on, while scouting out other knife stores in Tokyo, I was also able to find a 270mm Gyuto, in a store which also had a 210mm Gyuto and a 180mm Santoku in stock. So, as you can see, while rare, Hattori KDs are actually available in Japan!!!

The prices, however, are not negociable there (though you will get some discount if paying cash), and these knives sell for the recommended price shown on Hattori's web site (see here (http://www.hattori-hamono.com/kd30.html#kd30h)), plus 5% tax. So they were expensive, much more so than shown on Koki's web site. But, what the hell - I was on holidays, so I was in a good mood, and the elation at finding all these Hattoris actually available, made me come home with these four gorgeous knives:

Unfortunately, as I kind of feared in this thread (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/5360-Best-place-to-get-knives-whetstone-sharpened-in-Tokyo), the store did indeed scuff them up when sharpening them for me, so I will be polishing and re-etching them as per Dave Martell's instructions in this post (http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/798351/) very soon! I will post pictures again once I am done.

While visiting the various knife stores, I ran into a couple of other interesting knives. The first one is a 160mm Santoku by Isshi Machida, in Takefu V-1 steel:

I loved the damascus look and the feel of the curved handle, and so that knife also came home with me.

While in the same store, I also spotted this peculiar letter opener/paper craft knife, made in a limited edition for the 50th anniversary of Hiro, and I could not resist - the damascus steel peeking out of the cocobolo wood cladding was just too much for me:

But the real highlights of the trip came in the form of after-sales service on two knives I already had! You may recall my post (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/5594-Kane-Soh-Yanagi-ba) about the Kane Soh yanagi-ba which I had bought in Tokyo 20 years ago - well, I asked a colleague at work to translate my request in Japanese for me before I went to Japan, and on my first day in Tokyo I showed up at the store with my knife and my printed request. The balked a bit at the short delay I was requesting (4 days), but ended up refinishing, repolishing and rehandling my knife on time and for a very reasonable price. So in the end I was also able to come back with this rejuvinated knife, now sporting a nice new octogonal handle:

Finally, came the real surprise of the trip! Some time ago, when reading the long thread (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/1424-Kramer-Zwilling-10-quot-Chef-s-Knive-arrived) here about the Bob Kramer by Zwilling knives, I decided to buy a 10" Chef on Amazon, since they had one marketplace seller who was willing to ship internationally. Unfortunately, when the knife arrived, I discovered that the wood handle had shrunk quite considerably, exposing almost 1mm of the brass rivets, and that the knife had the heel over-grind which people have been talking about. So I sent an e-mail to Bob asking his advice in terms of what I could do to restore the wood to its original volume, and he - after advising to soak it in natural oil - put me in touch with Zwilling US.

When I contacted them, the Marketing VP answered me personally, and we began a long exchange of e-mails to see how I could return the knife for exchange without losing the Customs and VAT which I had already paid to receive the first one. To make a long story short, knowing that these knives were made in Japan and that I was going to be there, I asked if there was a way to exchange the knife in Tokyo. Zwilling US went way beyond what would normally be considered good customer service, and made arrangements for this to happen, allowing me to pick up my new knife in Tokyo while returning my old knife to Germany to minimize shipping costs.

When I showed up in the Zwilling Tokyo offices, the Zwilling Japan General Manager actually took time out of a meeting to greet me, as did the Manager of the Seki factory, who was in Tokyo that day and wished to apologise in person for the defective knife I had received. So not only did I leave their offices with a perfect 10" Chef replacement knife, which the factory manager had personally checked and sharpened, but also with a 5" Utility Kramer by Zwilling knife which the factory Manager had brought for me as a gift to apologise for all the trouble - I could not believe it!!! Apparently, the Utility knife is supposed to be B-grade stock, for which he also apologised, but it looks just perfect to me, and for the life of me I could not tell you why they would consider it B stock:

So here is a customer service story which ends very well! I just wish to publicly tip my hat to both Zwilling US and Zwilling Japan for going the extra mile, and beyond!, to make this particular customer happy! If only all companies were like this, the world would probably be a happier place... :D

Knives notwithstanding, Japan is a wonderful country, with wonderful people, extraordinary sights and excellent food, which I cannot recommend enough! We all had a wonderful time there, and now yearn to return as soon as possible...

05-01-2012, 10:39 AM
Great experiences all around! Thank you for sharing with us :)

05-01-2012, 10:43 AM
Wow...all those KD's...:bigeek:

Dave Martell
05-01-2012, 10:56 AM
Damn man, what a great bunch of knife tales! Of course you must realize that you've just set off the spark to start the hunt for KD's in Japan, right? :)

05-01-2012, 11:20 AM
Thanks for sharing. Very cool story. :doublethumbsup:

05-01-2012, 11:37 AM
Great story.
Congrats on the knives, you are insane spending that amount of money on knives :P
Are these knives gonna be used or stored?

Again great story, and I love people showing such devotion for their interest :)

05-01-2012, 12:05 PM
... you are insane spending that amount of money on knives :P

Hey, I come from watch and wine collecting, so - relatively speaking - knives are a steal!!! ;)

This said, they will definitely be used... every single one of them!

05-01-2012, 12:09 PM
You are allowed to post more pics from your trip and your knives :)
Must have been cool to visit Tokyo and found this treasure :)

05-01-2012, 12:10 PM
Wow, great story. Also, lots of good food to enjoy while you are there.
Even the box lunches on the trains are good.

05-01-2012, 12:38 PM
They are indeed wonderful knives (I actually prefer Hattori's patterning/damascus to most others) but and again this is personal preference I guess, feel they are a little spoiled by the western handles. As others have said a nice story too.

Eamon Burke
05-01-2012, 12:44 PM
Now Karring will make a journey to Japan after the elusive KD...

05-01-2012, 01:15 PM
Now Karring will make a journey to Japan after the elusive KD...

What do you mean will, I dropped him off at the Minneapolis airport this morning?

Eamon Burke
05-01-2012, 01:31 PM
Wait, seriously?

05-01-2012, 02:24 PM
Nice hoard, strange they don't make the handle of the petty match.

05-01-2012, 02:32 PM
Cool stories!

05-01-2012, 03:18 PM
Nice hoard, strange they don't make the handle of the petty match.

I wonder about that myself, especially considering that the 135mm Petty has a matching handle:
(image from Hattori's web site)

05-01-2012, 03:18 PM
Nice score a.lber.to! Did you take them through customs yourself or did you ship them home??

05-01-2012, 03:20 PM
Whoa. Very cool.

05-01-2012, 03:21 PM
Nice score a.lber.to! Did you take them through customs yourself or did you ship them home??

I just took them home myself. I would have much preferred to put them in my carry-on, but obviously that was impossible, so they ended up in the checked luggage (and I prayed hard that it would not get lost!)...

05-01-2012, 03:23 PM
I would have been worried sick.Glad things worked out for ya.

05-01-2012, 03:26 PM
Well, I was! But I was also counting on the Japanese's proverbial efficiency to make sure that the luggage got onto the right airplane... :)

05-01-2012, 03:30 PM

05-01-2012, 03:30 PM
Wait, seriously?

No - sorry - just pullin' your chain Eamon

05-01-2012, 04:21 PM
sweet sweet KD'S

05-01-2012, 04:32 PM
Amazing pics and story! Thanks for the share!!! :)

05-01-2012, 04:47 PM
The story way better than knives.

Very cool read, thanks. And good karma for zwilling

What happened to that yanagiba is amazing. Total revitalizing. Very very cool!

05-01-2012, 08:10 PM
Wow great ending to the thread you started back a few mo. ago.

Cutty Sharp
08-01-2012, 10:17 PM
Yes, seems the visit was already some time ago - but do you remember which shops you visited? (Names, etc? In Kappabashi or elsewhere?)

08-01-2012, 11:25 PM

Thank you for the awesome story of you journey to find the elusive KD's. I just love these knives ! I have a Hatorri FH 270mm gyuto and I love it. I am living vicariously through your stories.

Congrats on some sweet knive and memories !!!

08-03-2012, 08:41 PM
but do you remember which shops you visited? (Names, etc? In Kappabashi or elsewhere?)

Yes, of course I remember. But there is no point in posting them here, because the few knives they had are long gone, and they have not yet managed to get any other ones...

Cutty Sharp
08-03-2012, 10:51 PM
Yes, of course I remember. But there is no point in posting them here, because the few knives they had are long gone, and they have not yet managed to get any other ones...

I'm not looking to buy Hattoris, but was just curious as I used to live there, have visited recently and could easily return. But okay, fine. Forget it.

08-04-2012, 05:48 AM
Below the link to the shop that had the KD. Very nice knife shop, one of the best in Kappabashi.


08-04-2012, 01:17 PM
But okay, fine. Forget it.

Sorry, I did not mean to tick anyone off... it is just that I have heard that they got swamped with calls, and I understand that they are tired of telling foreigners on the phone that they are out of Hattori KDs... :)

PM sent with the names.

Cutty Sharp
08-04-2012, 07:20 PM
;) Ano, Hattori no bocho ga arimasu ka? ... If anyone out would like to try, you could first pretend and tell them you're Japanese, then ask that question and see what they say. For language practice of course!