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Thread: Engraving on Japanese kitchen knives?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Engraving on Japanese kitchen knives?

    I am curios about the origins of the engraved blades on Japanese kitchen knives. I do not mean the Kanji, but the often rather complex images of creatures (dragons seem to be very popular) or scenes. Is it something that is very traditional, or it was brought to life by collectors from EU/US? I know that there are some very beautifully crafted engravings on some knives (the Dragon Kato from Maxim comes to my mind).

    I am just curios

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    It's an interesting question I've wondered about and briefly tried to check into. Shinichiro Yamamoto of 'Hide' knife fame arranges stuff like dragons, sakura and koi fish I think (done by a special engraver). Dragons appear on Misono, too. And I think Maxim always worried the Workhorse knives were not lookers and so arranged for some dragons on a batch once. I'm sure there are other egs too.

    My instinct has been that the engravings aren't traditional at all. Sakura and koi are very Japanese, but I think just show up on a few high-end Hide knives sold almost entirely in Japan.

    Dragons have some traditional role in Japanese culture but, having lived there, I don't think it's a big thing like it is, say, in Chinese or Vietnamese culture. To me the dragons are a bit cheesy and I've sort of suspected that they've been used a bit to dress up plainer knives, perhaps for Western/international customers, and maybe exploit vague impressions people have of the 'exotic East'.

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    Senior Member tjangula's Avatar
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    I have the dragons on the misono gyuto and suji, also the flower on the santoku. Watanabe offers a lot of different engravings: http://www.kitchen-knife.jp/special/engraving.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjangula View Post
    I have the dragons on the misono gyuto and suji, also the flower on the santoku. Watanabe offers a lot of different engravings: http://www.kitchen-knife.jp/special/engraving.htm
    Which almost double the price of the knife

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    Quote Originally Posted by krx927 View Post
    Which almost double the price of the knife
    I'm sure he sends these out to an engraver/artisan of some sort, so of course it adds a lot.

    Lots of the expense in high-end knives has to be down to the finish. However, I wouldn't go for extra engravings myself. Really, I think it's a service Watanabe provides for foreign buyers who might like that sort of thing.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    I see, I see, I get the picture So I am not going to bug Jon to have a dragon engraved on that single bevel petty I am waiting for

  7. #7
    Senior Member MAS4T0's Avatar
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    It's origins must be Nihonto. Ceremonial blades were often carved with Horimono and many art swords made today still are.

    I'm not sure when or why it started being done of kitchen knives, but the carvings are somewhat crude by comparison.
    Maybe the Horimono we see on kitchen knives are carved by apprentices?



    Sword



    Knife


  8. #8
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Interesting, thanks. At least the carvings on Kato knives from Maxim were made by a very old master. I do not find them crude, but certainly differently made - similar technique like use for the Kanji I guess. The sword shown above reminds more of the material being removed with a fine tools, rather than just embossed with some sort of edge.


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