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Korin_Mari
07-03-2012, 05:11 PM
History of Western Knives Crafted in Seki, Japan

Earliest examples of contemporary Japanese swords date back to the 14th century and were crafted by Kaneuji and Kinju. All craftsmen who stem from Kaneuji and Kinju are called Mino Smiths, based in Seki-city. Although, katana swords were originally intended for nobility or military heads, during the Muromachi (1392-1573) period katana swords began to be mass produced for trade and war.


http://sekikanko.jp/themes/seki2011Themes/images/hamono05.jpg
http://www.gifu-np.co.jp/mh100/data/mh10020070421.jpg
The crafting ceremony in Seki

In the beginning of the 14th century, Japan opened their trade ports to the Ming Dynasty (China) after being completely isolated for thousands of years. It is reported that more than one hundred thousand katana swords were exported to China during the Muromachi period. The freedom to interact with other countries brought new business opportunities that influenced the development of Japan's market and made way for new social classes.


http://www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~koua/tamio/gif/emaki_muromati8.jpg
Muromachi Period

The victors of the Onin war overthrew the Muromachi Shogunates, which led to military leaders declaring themselves as feudal warlords of different regions and vying for for power. This state of Darwinism on a human scale marked the beginning of a century of civil strife, known as the Sengoku Jidai (Warring period 1467-1568).


http://rekisi.mktaxy.com/123491458075316405590_Mooko-HakataWall.jpg
Depiction of the Sengoku Period


During the Sengoku period, Mino smiths in Seki were faced with an incredibly high demand for katana from different regimes. Regardless of the availability of firearms, only few utilized them due to the samurai code of conduct (bushido). Bushido dictates that fighting opponents face to face with a katana is the only honorable way to fight, therefore it was considered cowardly to kill from a distance. To meet these demands, the art of sword crafting became a production line of massed produced blades.

Although the mass produced blades had little artistic value, they were practical and met the needs of power hungry military heads.The mass production of katana swords represents the change and turmoil manifesting in Japan during the Muromachi and Sengoku period. Although nowadays, sword crafting is limited by the government to a few pieces a year, Sekiís historical background has made the city into the center of Western style knife production. Craftsmen in Seki continue to polish strategies that have been passed down for hundreds of years and develop new advancements for kitchens worldwide.

.......

Ps. If you try to get a Western style knife (http://korin.com/Knives/Western-Style-Knives_2) crafted in Sakai, it will probably end up being horrendously expensive. Why you ask? Sakai city doesn't have the equipment or the secrets to crafting Western style knives, the same way Seki doesn't have the equipment to craft Japanese knives. It's not in the history books or anything, but according to Mr. Sugai, Seki and Sakai have kept these crafting procedures a secret for centuries. Again, I don't know if this true, but I do know that that Suisin (http://korin.com/Knives/Suisin_5) is based in Sakai city and have their traditional Japanese knives made there, while they have Western knives shipped in from Seki.

PPS. I have to admit reading about the samurai code totally made me fan-girl. LOLOL

ajhuff
07-03-2012, 05:36 PM
Very nice read.

-AJ

Korin_Mari
07-03-2012, 05:44 PM
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed. :)

knyfeknerd
07-03-2012, 05:49 PM
Thanks Mari, as usual I love the history lesson. Thanks for contributing and being more than just a vendor. All your posts are greatly appreciated.

Eamon Burke
07-03-2012, 06:00 PM
Awesome, cool Info.

I was under the impression that if you get sparks when you are hammering it is a bad sign.

Korin_Mari
07-03-2012, 06:03 PM
Awesome, cool Info.

I was under the impression that if you get sparks when you are hammering it is a bad sign.

You know, I was under that impression too. Mr. Sugai told me its a sign of bad material if sparks fly while its on the sharpening wheel... Maybe it doesn't apply for swords? I have to go ask.

Korin_Mari
07-03-2012, 06:04 PM
Thanks Mari, as usual I love the history lesson. Thanks for contributing and being more than just a vendor. All your posts are greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your support! It's comments like these that really make writing here such a pleasure. :)

El Pescador
07-03-2012, 06:08 PM
I love reading stuff like this. It makes my day.

Cutty Sharp
07-03-2012, 06:25 PM
I really enjoy reading stuff like this too. Thanks.

Crothcipt
07-04-2012, 01:54 AM
Very good read. Ty for a history lesson on something I know very little.

GlassEye
07-04-2012, 01:59 AM
A good read, as usual. Thanks.

sachem allison
07-04-2012, 02:15 AM
Awesome, cool Info.

I was under the impression that if you get sparks when you are hammering it is a bad sign.

They are hammering the Tamahagane bloom into steel, there is going to be sparks until everything gets compressed into a workable billet.

GlassEye
07-04-2012, 02:34 AM
They are hammering the Tamahagane bloom into steel, there is going to be sparks until everything gets compressed into a workable billet.

That's what I was assuming. The impurities need to be hammered out(sparks), carbon incorporated, steel is produced?

brainsausage
07-04-2012, 03:01 AM
That's what I was assuming. The impurities need to be hammered out(sparks), carbon incorporated, steel is produced?

Also general compression I would think. Sparks are loose material, as it gets tighter and denser you lose less with each strike, just guessing based on scraps of stuff in my head... I'm probably way off base here.

brainsausage
07-04-2012, 03:03 AM
They are hammering the Tamahagane bloom into steel, there is going to be sparks until everything gets compressed into a workable billet.

Nevermind- son beat me to it...

Tristan
07-04-2012, 04:27 AM
Nice read. And I only just realised that Mari was female.

SpikeC
07-04-2012, 05:10 PM
Mari has totally changed my impression of Korin for the better. I may not buy a lot of stuff, but they will get my business!

zitangy
07-04-2012, 11:00 PM
You know, I was under that impression too. Mr. Sugai told me its a sign of bad material if sparks fly while its on the sharpening wheel... Maybe it doesn't apply for swords? I have to go ask.


Eamon mentioned about sparks when hammering and you spoke of it on the wheel. I suppose there can be no sparks if it is a water wheel.

I supose there should be some significance of color of the sparks? temperature ( heat generated) and materials flying off?

How about organising a paid tour to these knifemakers under your expert tour?? There could be some interest; afterall it is THE Kitchen Knife Forums.

Have fun..

D

Benuser
07-04-2012, 11:46 PM
Great thread!

Tristan
07-05-2012, 12:24 AM
Eamon mentioned about sparks when hammering and you spoke of it on the wheel. I suppose there can be no sparks if it is a water wheel.

I supose there should be some significance of color of the sparks? temperature ( heat generated) and materials flying off?

How about organising a paid tour to these knifemakers under your expert tour?? There could be some interest; afterall it is THE Kitchen Knife Forums.

Have fun..

D

+1: The language barrier would kill it for any non native speaker otherwise. Also as part of the tour, can you include japanese deep fried chicken. I know they are not known for it, but the one time I had it in Tokyo - a whole fried chicken. It was amazing. Blew everything else i had tried to date out of the water.

Oh there will probably be some of that sushi thing too...

Crothcipt
07-05-2012, 12:27 AM
sounds like next years ecg is starting to shape up.:wink:

Korin_Mari
07-05-2012, 10:20 AM
How about organising a paid tour to these knifemakers under your expert tour?? There could be some interest; afterall it is THE Kitchen Knife Forums.
Have fun..
D


+1: The language barrier would kill it for any non native speaker otherwise. Also as part of the tour, can you include japanese deep fried chicken. I know they are not known for it, but the one time I had it in Tokyo - a whole fried chicken. It was amazing. Blew everything else i had tried to date out of the water.

Oh there will probably be some of that sushi thing too...

I would love to organize a tour of knife makers. If it happens it will probably be vincent (apprentice sharpener) and myself leading the tour. Ms. Kawano is coming home from Japan today, so I'll run it by her. If it does happen it will probably be during spring. Nice weather + cherry blossoms in full bloom = Awesome. I will make up an itinerary, an estimate of costs, and put it up here for anyone who is interested. :)

Surprisingly, I think non-native speakers would survive just fine in Japan. There are English translations of things everywhere, plus some Japanese people actually speak english (or will try really hard to.) Only really difficult thing would be ordering food, if they don't have an English menu.

I love japanese fried chicken too. My favorite thing to do is to put a little spicy mayo (sriracha sauce + japanese mayo) on it, then stick it into the middle of a rice ball. Sometimes I'll wrap the rice ball in a thin layer of egg too. Personally, I'm a bigger fan of Japanese home cooking than things like sushi. LOL

Korin_Mari
07-05-2012, 10:27 AM
Eamon mentioned about sparks when hammering and you spoke of it on the wheel. I suppose there can be no sparks if it is a water wheel.

I supose there should be some significance of color of the sparks? temperature ( heat generated) and materials flying off?


Oh I was just talking about a wheel, because he was telling me this as he was sharpening knives. Forgers do hammer the steel, and now I think of it sparks do fly... Just not to the extent shown in the pictures. That is a lot sparks... lol

I think hammering out the impurities to a tighter denser material is probably right. I'm still waiting for Mr. Sugai to come into the office.

Korin_Mari
07-05-2012, 10:29 AM
Mari has totally changed my impression of Korin for the better. I may not buy a lot of stuff, but they will get my business!

These comments make me so happy. Thank you so much! :bliss:

Korin_Mari
07-05-2012, 10:32 AM
Thanks for reading and for all of the kind comments, guys! It really makes my day to know people enjoy what I put up here. :)

zitangy
07-05-2012, 12:16 PM
[QUOTE=Korin_Mari;124039]Oh I was just talking about a wheel, because he was telling me this as he was sharpening knives. Forgers do hammer the steel, and now I think of it sparks do fly... Just not to the extent shown in the pictures. That is a lot sparks... lol

Agreed... what you are saying is that the first picture especially.. is doctored to make the hammering process more dramatic!

Btw.. teh water wheel that you have in your shop of which I believe John Broida has one too, does it cost an arm and a leg? any ball park numbers?

Tks
D

Korin_Mari
07-05-2012, 12:30 PM
[QUOTE=Korin_Mari;124039]Oh I was just talking about a wheel, because he was telling me this as he was sharpening knives. Forgers do hammer the steel, and now I think of it sparks do fly... Just not to the extent shown in the pictures. That is a lot sparks... lol

Agreed... what you are saying is that the first picture especially.. is doctored to make the hammering process more dramatic!

Btw.. teh water wheel that you have in your shop of which I believe John Broida has one too, does it cost an arm and a leg? any ball park numbers?

Tks
D

I have to ask Mr. Sugai (He's not in today) how much the wheel costs, so I will have to get back to you on that one. It was installed before I started working at Korin, probably when I was still 12 or so. But I know it was custom made from Japan, and we had people fly in from Japan to install it properly for us. I don't really know what kind of wheel Jon uses actually, so I can't say for him.