View Full Version : Knife Systems Visit (Suisin) *WARNING: SUPER IMAGE HEAVY*

06-07-2012, 05:54 PM
"Junro Aoki, the second son of the Aoki Knife Craft family, was eager to step apart from his family to create his own cherished knife brand. During the twenty years he spent learning his craft, the young and energetic knife craftsman dreamed of someday creating knives that would combine the traditional qualities of Sakai-style knife-crafting techniques with more modern designs. In 1990, Mr. Aoki realized his dream and created the Suisin Collection." - Taken from the Korin knife catalogue

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Mr. Aoki telling us about the blade making process

Mr. Aoki was also Mr. Sugai’s first knife sharpening teacher. When Mr. Aoki felt that he has taught Mr. Sugai all that he knew, he directed Mr. Sugai to Sakai City’s blade making association chairman, Mr. Oda.

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Mr. Aoki's son and next generation owner, Tatsuya Aoki. Mr. Tatsuya giving Vincent (Mr. Sugai's apprentice) pointers. Son and apprentice following their master's foot steps. :)

During our journey, we stopped by Knife Systems in Sakai city. Mr. Aoki took Vincent and me around Sakai city to learn about the art of Japanese knife crafting. We had the pleasure of meeting master blacksmith Kenjiro Doi and his son (Itsuo Doi). Supposedly I met Mr. Doi when I was little... Oddly enough I can't remember him or the amazing forging equipment, but I remembered the trashcans outside. Yea... I have no clue.

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Inside the trashcan I somehow remembered.

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We took some to give to Chef Kittichai as decoration in his restaurant.

Master Doi entered the world of Sakai city’s traditional hand forged knife crafting at the age of nineteen as an apprentice to his father, Kazuo Doi. Determined to master his chosen art, the younger Doi applied discipline and hard work to achieve the highest level of craftsmanship for 67 years. Doi lives and works by his motto, “a good craftsman never stops learning about his art.”

the highest level and most challenging technique of forging knives at a low temperature and single edged blades indispensable to professional chefs. In particular, Doi has received great praise from the top caliber chefs throughout Japan for his masterful use of aoniko (no. 2 blue steel), an especially high performance material that is extremely difficult to forge.

Mr. Doi, famous for his Suisin Hayate line. Mr. Doi learned the art of knife forging from his father over 65 years ago. Over the years, he has perfected the difficult skill of forging ao-ko (blue steel) knives at a lower temperature. Forging knives at a lower temperature creates a higher quality knife. You can feel the difference in your hand, the Hayate knives are much heavier than say Masamoto knives.

Due to the difficulty of forging the Hayate line, he can only produce 10 knives a month. In reality, he has technically been retired for several years ago. However, he continues to forge a few knives a month to maintain his skills.

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Mr. Aoki explaining how this knife was defective because the soft iron and carbon did not bind together.

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Mr. Doi showing us another defect

In forging, Master Doi joins a large ao-ko steel billet with the soft iron body of this yanagi knife at the lowest temperature possible, resulting in the Hayate’s superior blade strength and edge life. This rare low temperature forging technique, practiced by only the most highly skilled black smiths, is so difficult to perform that many unsuccessful tries end up in the shop’s recycle bin before one beautiful Hayate can be made. Each knife is serial numbered on the back of the blade and comes in a wooden presentation box.

The blade makers

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Knives sitting in anti-rust liquid

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Making the blade

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Their workspace

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Hammering in the brand names and letters (This man came to Korin to do the knife sharpening demo!)

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Blade makers are not brand specific. Companies pick and choose who they want to forge their knives, then who to put the blade on them.

Putting the handles on the knives

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Because the smoke turns the blade black if not careful, Mr. Aoki uses two knives to put handle on each knife.

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One is used to create a wide enough opening to fit the knife.

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Most traditional Japanese knives nowadays are glued into place, but hitting the bottom of some traditional Japanese knives with a wooden surface may loosen the blade from the handle.

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Over the years, our beloved customers have fallen in love with his knives. However, despite his ever-growing fame, he recently informed the Suisin president that he will be retiring soon after his 85th birthday. To celebrate his retirement and birthday, we went to eat dinner at a nabe restaurant for suppon (turtle) and crab hot pot. I could not make myself eat the turtle hot pot, because it was a bit too grotesque...

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Mr. Doi happily holding his Hayate line knife

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Gorgeous sashimi presentation

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My plate of appetizer

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My mother and Mr. Aoki enjoyed this kanimiso (crab brains according to the internet) by mixing hot sake into it.

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Fresh crab legs ready to be cooked. I swear eating crab is an activity.

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Mr. Doi enjoying his drinks

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Mr. Doi tickled pink. I realize he's this grand master, but he was an adorable man. :)

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We had our resident photographer take pictures of all of Mr. Doi's fans for an album with a message from each customer.

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Suisin had left over carbon so had Mr. Doi make these petty yanagis for fun. LOL

Thank you for reading! :)

06-07-2012, 06:04 PM
really cool post, thanks a lot!

Eamon Burke
06-07-2012, 06:08 PM
My god, the fact that he can make those knives for fun is insane. Nobody in the US can make a knife like that.

That meal looks amazing!

Hey, are they seriously sharpening in Anti-Freeze? Or do they have a reservoir of clean water nearby that just overflows into the anti-freeze?

06-07-2012, 06:09 PM
Thanks for sharing Mari. These pictures are great. I have one of Master Doi's knives that I treasure. I'm happy his son is carrying on the tradition.

06-07-2012, 06:14 PM
Wow nice write up. Great to see a great celebration.

06-07-2012, 06:34 PM

06-07-2012, 06:53 PM
Thanks for sharing.

06-07-2012, 07:01 PM
Totally cool! Thank you for sharing!

06-07-2012, 07:45 PM
Wonderful post! Thanks!

The Edge
06-07-2012, 07:54 PM
Thanks for the post. It's awesome to see anyone that has been in a profession that long that is still trying to better themselves, and has such passion. Even if he is retired now.

sachem allison
06-07-2012, 09:38 PM
Thank you for posting

06-09-2012, 11:48 PM
Thanks for reading everyone! :)

06-09-2012, 11:52 PM
My god, the fact that he can make those knives for fun is insane. Nobody in the US can make a knife like that.

That meal looks amazing!

Hey, are they seriously sharpening in Anti-Freeze? Or do they have a reservoir of clean water nearby that just overflows into the anti-freeze?

Yea! they were amazing tiny knives and the meal was fantastic. I had the pleasure of sitting across Mr. Doi and we got to talk a lot. He was afraid of eating suppon too. He was joking and saying how the turtle and the crab will fight in his stomach if he eats it. lol

I actually have no idea about the anti-freeze. I was kind of quietly observing trying to take in everything. I was in just in awe the majority of the time. LOL

06-09-2012, 11:53 PM
Thanks for sharing Mari. These pictures are great. I have one of Master Doi's knives that I treasure. I'm happy his son is carrying on the tradition.

Awesome! I'm so glad to see more master Doi fans. :D

Dave Martell
06-10-2012, 02:23 PM
Great post - thank you.....

.....now I sneak off to get on a plane to go find Mr.Doi's trashcan. :D

06-10-2012, 02:49 PM
Nice post; also an owner of Doi san knives. So now for the technical details; what is the finishing details and preferences for creating the ootb kasumi finish. Sugai san dvd says it is a secret. Looks like a cork to me...

06-10-2012, 09:16 PM
Great post!!! Really good pictures and a great write up! I think it's awesome that he has been in the craft for so long, yet still strives to learn more. You don't see that type of dedication very much anymore!

06-11-2012, 02:14 AM
Thanks for great article. Makes me feel even better to own one :)
Stunning. Doi decided to stop producing blades after his 85th birthday. Amazing

I wonder, can he live without it?

06-11-2012, 04:59 PM
WHoot great post :)

As much as I would love one of Doi's knives... I woulnd't be able to do the knife justice :p

I'm safe as long as he doesn't make a KU blade :p

06-11-2012, 05:45 PM
Thanks for sharing and taking us along.