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Cutty Sharp
08-20-2012, 04:51 PM
I take it that only a few members here know more than a few Japanese words - sushi, sashimi, tsunami and the inevitable knife stuff like nakiri, kasumi, sujihiki etc. In fact you probably know more knife words than other words in Japanese! Anyway, despite spending over 2 years in Japan I'm not really that different as I used English at home and work, and it was also more than 10 years ago. I know a bit of Nihon-go, but would like to learn a bit more - especially knife-related these days - and so was wondering if anyone could contribute to a thread on how to decipher a bit of what those etchings on our knives say? (Or stones...? and so on.) Maybe this kind of stuff hasn't been posted much before and could be useful.
:sumo:

First of all, I can contribute this: I'm not sure how many people are actually aware that Japanese traditionally uses 3 different scripts, of which kanji is just one. Sometimes people post things like, 'I can't read kanji.' However, I'm not completely sure if this means that they can read the 2 other main scripts, hiragana and katakana, or not. Probably not, I'd guess.

They're not that tough to tell apart, with a little practice, and they have different roles. Kanji is the most complex-looking one, Chinese characters that began to be used in Japan a couple thousand years ago, for example: 漢字 (kanji), 日本 (Japan), 東京 (Tokyo), 堺市 (Sakai), 重房 (Shigefusa). They're terribly complex and can mean different things, with many/most characters having more than 1 pronunciation, I believe. I only know a few of these - and for good reason as it's an absolute mess. Unfortunately, these are what we usually find on knives, they give the maker's name, and so I try to recognise them a bit.

Hiragana is the best-looking script, I think. It's less complex than kanji and is kind of loopy: ひらがな (hiragana), おさか (Osaka), はもの (hamono). It's generally used phonetically, which makes it way easier to learn, with each character usually representing one Japanese 'sound', such as ひ (hi) ら (ra) が (ga) な (na). Hiragana's used to represent hard kanji and for grammar, etc. You don't really see it on knives, though.

Then there's katakana, the simplest-looking script; straighter lines than hiragana. It's basically always phonetic and matches the Japanese sounds as hiragana usually does too: ナイフ (knife or 'na-i-fu'), キッチェン (kitchen or 'kii-chi-n'). This is the script I learned first as most words recently imported into the Japanese language are written in katakana. Very helpful when doing grocery shopping and reading labels, for example, even if the Japan-ised version of a word is a bit different. (Canned tuna, I remember, isn't called 'tuna' in Japanese but シーチキン or 'shiichikin' - 'sea chicken' - which I always thought was hilarious.)
:chicksign:

(Incidentally, romanji - our roman alphabet - is used quite a lot in Japan. Indo-Arabic numerals - 1,2,3... - are probably more common than their kanji equivalents.)


Here's some useful kanji as an example: 白 is white and 青 is blue, while 一 is 1 and 二 is 2, and so if you see 白 and 二 you can pretty much be sure a knife is shirogami #2. With katakana you might see スウェーデン which is pronounced as 'sue-de-n' and so you know you've got Swedish steel. Or you might see a kanji/katakana combo like 青紙スーパー 鋼 which contains the 'blue' kanji and also the katakana スーパー or 'suu-paa', and so you know you're got Aogami Super steel.

Hope this is interesting/useful. Please post if you have something to add.

chinacats
08-20-2012, 09:40 PM
Very informative, thanks.

Cutty Sharp
08-26-2012, 12:10 PM
Well, not the most overwhelming response to this thread so far. Must mean that, a) people aren't really into learning a bit of Japanese, or b) people don't know enough to contribute, or c) maybe both! :dontknow: However, I like it and will still try to contribute now and then when I find something that could be useful.

Found this, which just came up on a recent 'ID this knife'-type thread:

作 = make/made and could help to ID the maker's name; thus, if I take the most common surname in Japan - Satou or 佐藤 apparently - and he's a knifemaker, you could end up with 佐藤作 on a blade, for example.

http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/047/206/106/106206047_742.jpg

登録 = can mean registered/certified; it was pictured on the blade in this thread http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/8054-An-unexpected-gift-ID-help-please?p=137168&highlight=#post137168

I'm also wondering if anyone can spot it on the 'reg'd in Sakai' stickers on Sakai knives? I also see it on this cert http://http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/047/206/106/106206047_742.jpg

Cutty Sharp
09-23-2012, 07:48 PM
登録重房 - authentic or 'registered' Shigefusa; probably their older style

10188

skewed
09-23-2012, 09:39 PM
I totally forgot to post a thank you! I appreciate your post. Keep it up.

Zwiefel
09-23-2012, 10:36 PM
Just read this....nice write-up!

I knew about the 3 different character sets...and aside from knife/food terms know--well, USED to know--a lot of judo/aikido terms :)

That's about it for me though.

andur
09-25-2012, 03:44 AM
Interesting thread! I've only got one funny story to contribute. I don't have the pictures with me but I did take some macro shots of my knives and then posted them to a Japanese professor (from japan) in my University. I just wanted to ask what the writings say on my Tanaka and Shimatani knives. And also the knife boxes and such.

The reply I got was pretty short and the japanese teacher said "Oh sorry, it seems the knives carry the makers names which I cannot read. If you have been shown such a name (with such a writing style) and you have memorized it, then you can read it. But if it's a name you haven't seen before then you can't even guess." So I didn't get a reply what names might be on the knives. The professor did say that one of the knives carried the steel mark, ("This is interesting, something like blue paper number two, does that make any sense?" she said:lol2:), the city in which it was made and then the steel manufacturer also.

So what I learned was that "hey I speak japanese!" won't help much if the writings on our knives carry old family pictograms or rare names etc. Must be a complex language to write in!

DeepCSweede
09-25-2012, 10:03 AM
This is very interesting - hopefully some more people can contribute - I have nothing to share only to learn.

Xuster
09-25-2012, 10:16 AM
hmmm I don't know much about japanese but Kanji is basically traditional Chinese and the meanings will be the same. It's true that each individual character has multiple definitions, but taken in context, there's only so many things a character can mean. So if you were really motivated, you could get your self a traditional Chinese-english dictionary and figure these out. Looking up Chinese characters via strokes is actually fairly easy despite how complicated some of these characters look.

Montrachet
01-27-2013, 01:37 PM
Thank you Sir for these helpfull informations. Hope to read and learn more. Very interesting for me.

Madmox
02-20-2013, 03:51 AM
I could use a little help in this respect too in this regard. I have been looking at this yanagi and deba and the seller claims they are kikuichi but neither have the seal so i would love to know if anyone can identify who they are really made by. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Colin
http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b344/Madmox/DebaKanji_zps86e70d5c.jpg
http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b344/Madmox/Deba_zpsacc40c54.jpeg
http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b344/Madmox/YanagiKanji_zpsa364f482.jpg
http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b344/Madmox/Yanagi_zpsa3be928e.jpeg

cclin
02-20-2013, 06:52 AM
yanagi is Shigefusa. don't understand third kanji on deba; however, I'm 100% sure isn't kikuichi

kalaeb
02-20-2013, 01:15 PM
This thread reminds me, I have not heard from Cutty in awhile, I miss giving him a hard time about his ho.....handles

Madmox
02-20-2013, 02:21 PM
much appreciated! the battle is half won! I knew they weren't kikuishi because they didn't have the seal but the question is are they still worth what they are asking!

Thanks,
Colin

Zwiefel
02-20-2013, 04:45 PM
For some reason that made me imagine Cutty doing a spoof of this 80's classic:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWtPiS4rPa4

Slypig5000
02-26-2013, 11:17 PM
Thanks for the write up, I thought this was very interesting, I knew nothing about kanji before reading this. Now I know just enough to be dangerous.

Madmox
03-07-2013, 02:15 AM
So the Shig and the deba are both from Kiya and thats what the kanji on both the fronts of the blades say. And the Kanji below the registration mark on the deba is "gold" Then "Wood".

Sambar Stag
12-05-2013, 09:39 PM
Thanks so much for this post! It has been very helpful to me. I have an inherited yo - gyoto that was used by my late stepmother for as long as I remember that has been called a very special knife by all that have used it. With the help of your research I have identified "Japan", "Registered/Authorized", and "Sweden". A yanagi with saya has the same Japan, registered/authorized, but also "blue" with no obvious number character after it. They have more characters that that, of course, but this is a start.

ChuckTheButcher
12-05-2013, 10:40 PM
I have nothing to add but thank you for this. It is very informative. Maybe I won't have to skype my cousins Japanese wife every other day if I learn a little more.

Asteger
12-06-2013, 08:20 AM
Very nice explanation! ;)

Mateyhv
02-25-2014, 07:41 AM
Nice explanation, kanji always looks cool. Thinking if some egyptian hyerogliphs would be equally cool :tease: So we would have french kitchen knives made from swedish steel in japanese blacksmiths with some egyptian hyeros and distributed through US to anywhere in the world. Globalization in its purest form. :lol2:

By the way, can someone read that beautiful kanji? From the above explanation I think the last picture reads 青一 or "blue 1". Thanks

http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3470.jpg
http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3475.jpg
http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3490.jpg
http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3488.jpg

cclin
02-25-2014, 09:02 AM
"幸之祐"=Konosuke, yes,"青一"=blue 1

fecfitz
05-01-2014, 04:25 PM
http://i57.tinypic.com/mma3xy.jpg

Can anybody tell me whats written on this knife? I dontīt know the brand

osakajoe
07-23-2014, 12:51 AM
合羽橋 - Kappa bashi
Just an area in Tokyo I believe similar to doguyasuji in osaka.

Other part might just be the shops name
かま.... Ka ma
Can't read the last hiragana maybe に
ni?

JBroida
07-23-2014, 03:53 AM
yeah... its kamata

osakajoe
07-23-2014, 07:02 AM
yeah... its kamata

Thanks!

That's a very stylish way of writing た

JMJones
07-29-2014, 08:34 PM
I picked this 240mm ish yanagi recently. Anyone have any idea of the kanji?

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e185/pike3e/kanji1.jpg (http://s39.photobucket.com/user/pike3e/media/kanji1.jpg.html)

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e185/pike3e/kanji2.jpg (http://s39.photobucket.com/user/pike3e/media/kanji2.jpg.html)

Any insight will be appreciated.

Thanks

John

osakajoe
08-01-2014, 09:05 PM
If possible a more close up shot so I can read the kanji clearly.

JMJones
08-02-2014, 12:10 PM
first set of characters
http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e185/pike3e/77dcb00e-5783-464a-a565-548ea15ae714.jpg (http://s39.photobucket.com/user/pike3e/media/77dcb00e-5783-464a-a565-548ea15ae714.jpg.html)



Second set of characters


http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e185/pike3e/1a9a0bcc-87d2-42fc-a3e8-55a65c5a1726.jpg (http://s39.photobucket.com/user/pike3e/media/1a9a0bcc-87d2-42fc-a3e8-55a65c5a1726.jpg.html)

osakajoe
08-07-2014, 02:32 AM
A bit tough but I think this I the closest I can get.

正宗二十四代?
Masamune 24th generation

_?_広作
___hiro saku
(note 広 is the way they right hiro today. The kanji on the knife is the old version)
Saku means made by or maker

Had to ask my colleague on this one and even with her knowledge if working at the knife museum she couldn't tell me that one kanji.

mill
08-09-2014, 05:02 PM
A bit tough but I think this I the closest I can get.

正宗二十四代?
Masamune 24th generation

_?_広作
___hiro saku
(note 広 is the way they right hiro today. The kanji on the knife is the old version)
Saku means made by or maker

Had to ask my colleague on this one and even with her knowledge if working at the knife museum she couldn't tell me that one kanji.

http://www.sword-masamune.com/en/info.html

DaninMD
09-29-2014, 02:59 PM
is anyone able to determine this one? from a non-descript ebay purchase. maybe a Tojiro? looks similar to some postings i have seen that were Tojiro
http://i475.photobucket.com/albums/rr117/danmoyer1979/0f448cb5-83a2-439e-813f-c2be00c725e1_zps811bf3c7.jpg

osakajoe
09-30-2014, 11:22 PM
I posted in your other thread.

The reason why you recognize the last kanji, saku - 作, is because it just means production or manufactured. Most knife brands put that at the end of their names. Kind of like saying osaka joe manufacturing.

Anyways to get on to the other kanji. It can be read one of two ways.
長俊作 Nagatoshi-saku or Choshun-saku.
More likely Nagatoshi as the other one is worded strangely.

RocketPower
12-04-2014, 05:01 PM
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php?p=331154
Hi all,
Posted this in another thread.
Maybe someone can help me here.

Cheers,

mise_en_place
01-09-2015, 03:12 AM
Incidentally, romanji - our roman alphabet - is used quite a lot in Japan. Indo-Arabic numerals - 1,2,3... - are probably more common than their kanji equivalents.

Not to nitpick, but it's romaji, not romanji.

Mortnate
01-24-2015, 06:27 PM
26084

I'm new to the forums and I'm glad there is a community sharing and increasing our knowledge.

I recently purchased a yanagiba and a deba from an eBay seller. Not sure on the maker. Came from someone who purchased them from an estate sale, a collector of Japanese items who passed away. Took a chance as they were old and never used or sharpened. Still waiting on delivery and I can post more photos once they arrive. Picture is zoomed in on one of the eBay listing photos.

Any help if possible would be appreciated.

no_one_just_Roy
01-26-2015, 05:31 AM
hi everyone, just another nameless japanese lurker here.

26084

I'm new to the forums and I'm glad there is a community sharing and increasing our knowledge.

I recently purchased a yanagiba and a deba from an eBay seller. Not sure on the maker. Came from someone who purchased them from an estate sale, a collector of Japanese items who passed away. Took a chance as they were old and never used or sharpened. Still waiting on delivery and I can post more photos once they arrive. Picture is zoomed in on one of the eBay listing photos.

Any help if possible would be appreciated.

So... it reads 登録 忠雄作 (touroku Tadao(?) saku/ Registered (made) by Tadao)

I'm not familier with that name so I had to look up for it.
And it looks like the knife is a cheaper side, baseline quality, soft iron / carbon steel (SK-5 steel?) forged one.
I couldn't find the details on who made it, but seems like it's by some blacksmith in Tsubame Sanjo area, Niigata prefecture.


And, better late than never so... quoting from the other thread

Hi all,

This is my first time posting on this forum!
Really enjoying reading all the threads so far!

Was wondering if someone would be able to help me with this knife.
Want to find out what it is to see if it is worth restoring.

Look forward to finding out what it is!

Cheers,

http://s8.postimg.org/mxw2m7c2d/20141203_180725.jpg
http://s9.postimg.org/tdn4ciktr/20141203_180702.jpg

関菊水 謹製 本割込 (Seki-kikusui kinsei hon-warikomi)
There's a small company named "菊水刃物" (kikusui hamono) in Seki, so I guess it's their product, though the company is more famous for outdoor and diving knives.
I'm not sure either but maybe you should try and find how it cuts. It might be inexpensive but that doesn't mean it's useless...

Mortnate
02-08-2015, 03:30 AM
[QUOTE=no_one_just_Roy;339432]hi everyone, just another nameless japanese lurker here.


So... it reads 登録 忠雄作 (touroku Tadao(?) saku/ Registered (made) by Tadao)

I'm not familier with that name so I had to look up for it.
And it looks like the knife is a cheaper side, baseline quality, soft iron / carbon steel (SK-5 steel?) forged one.
I couldn't find the details on who made it, but seems like it's by some blacksmith in Tsubame Sanjo area, Niigata prefecture.



Thanks for the information on the mystery knives.

I own a Tanaka 270mm gyuto. Really like the style of kanji he engraves. It's noticeably larger than other makers. 26263

Was contemplating getting a yanagiba from Tanaka, but not sure how the large kanji would react to the shinogi line moving up the table of the blade from sharpening. The kanji might intersect the shinogi line. Guessing mostly a cosmetic concern, losing part of the kanji, plus this would take a while before becoming an issue.

26264

denfetafrukten
02-12-2015, 08:31 AM
So i've been trying to decode the kanji on one of my knives, and this is what i've gathered so far.
I'm fairly certain that the "Yasui ? Hagane" part means Yasuki Speciality Steel.

The first two kanji i have no idea about, same with the very last one. Any help?

http://i.imgur.com/DwRpZw6.jpg

no_one_just_Roy
02-12-2015, 01:52 PM
So i've been trying to decode the kanji on one of my knives, and this is what i've gathered so far.
I'm fairly certain that the "Yasui ? Hagane" part means Yasuki Speciality Steel.

The first two kanji i have no idea about, same with the very last one. Any help?

http://i.imgur.com/DwRpZw6.jpg

"安来鋼" is indeed yasu-ki hagane, the name of the speciality steel by Hitachi Metals ltd.. Originally it came from Yasugi (安来 - same kanji as you see), name of a small city in Shimane Prefecture, but the name of the steel is "Yasuki" - perhaps they wanted it to be clear that while it is originated from the traditional tama-hagane steel, the steel they make is not by the traditional method and high-tech involved.
(By the way, basically you need a following kana to read 安 as 'yasu-i' (安い) )

But the following is rather weird. It indeed is "青鋼" and it means "blue steel" but the first character is in older writing "靑" which has been officially obsolete in Japan since 1949. And I don't think the blue paper steel was available back then.
Also, I don't see any good reason to stamp "yasuki steel" when you clearly state it is blue steel, one of major Yasuki steel lineup. It's totally redundant.
"入" (iri) means ... well, "include" "contain" "enter" or things like that. And this too is kind of strange (you cannot simply blend steels like pancake mix...)
So... I don't think it's made (or at least stamped) in Japan. China or Korea it might be? Come to think of it, the first 2 letters may be hangul or some other characters instead of kanji, though they are indecipherable in the picture.

denfetafrukten
02-12-2015, 04:28 PM
That would actually make sense, it's a cheap no-name knife that had some serious grind issues when i got it. A fun little project that i use for testing different stuff on. I wouldn't be suprised if it was made outside of japan.

Thanks alot for the help Roy!

mckemaus
02-12-2015, 08:42 PM
The first two characters look like 手作.

手作り (edzukuri) means hand made.

JBroida
02-12-2015, 08:53 PM
The first two characters look like 手作.

手作り (edzukuri) means hand made.

read as tezukuri in japanese

cheflarge
02-21-2015, 11:12 AM
WOW, what a awesome, informative thread!!! Thanks to all!!! :thumbsup:

denfetafrukten
02-26-2015, 12:21 PM
I have three knives bought from different resellers at different times that all have the same box.
So i started trying to translate the Kanji and this is what i got so far. Anyone wants to help with the other characters?

http://i.imgur.com/FgqgoLa.jpg

mill
02-27-2015, 11:03 PM
I have three knives bought from different resellers at different times that all have the same box.
So i started trying to translate the Kanji and this is what i got so far. Anyone wants to help with the other characters?

http://i.imgur.com/FgqgoLa.jpg

I'm going to say, in English, Premium Cooking Knife or High Quality Cooking Knife.