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Thread: Kane Soh Yanagi-ba

  1. #1
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    Kane Soh Yanagi-ba

    If you read my intro in the new members' forum, you may perhaps remember that in it I say: "Almost 20 years ago, during my first business trip to Japan, I bought a nice Yangi-ba, which - over the first half of its life - probably did not get nearly any of the respect it deserved." Now, I haven't been back to Tokyo since, but I still have the knife, which by now - after I learned the ropes sharpening it - could definitely use a some tender loving care and a new handle.

    As I will be heading to Tokyo in about a month's time, I thought that perhaps I could track down where I had bought my knife at the time, and see if I could get them to give it a second youth. Well, I went to google maps, and tried to trace my way back using the satellite view, remembering what the man at the Economics Ministry had told me at the time... Asakusa subway stop, walk down until I see a temple gate to my right, walk past many closed stalls (it was late at night), and then take the first or second left (I could not remember), until you see what will probably be the only open shop in the whole area.

    Well, I'll be damned! Not only was I able to track down the store, but it turns out that I had been given quite good advice at the time, as I had ended up buying a 230mm Kane Soh Yanagi-ba in blue steel! What is even more surprising, besides the store still being there, of course, is that they are still making the exact same knife I had bought at the time: http://www.kanesoh.com/SHOP/WY-02H.html !!!

    So, I have now decided to take the knife back with me to Japan, and bring it back to its maker. I am hoping to be able to ask him to repolish and resharpen the blade, and to change the knife's handle while he is at it... hopefully, he will be willing to do it.

    I will let you know how it went once i am back... and I will post some before and after photos if I succeeded!

  2. #2
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    Interesting. I wonder if they'd do it for you. Very curious.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Johnny.B.Good's Avatar
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    Nice detective work. I will be interested to hear how this goes too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    Pretty cool story. Hopefully someone in the shop has been there since you bought the knife. Maybe because you've had it so long they'll refinish the blade on the cheap for you

  5. #5
    That's a really good price for a blue steel Yani...

  6. #6
    Very cool story. Can you post up what store you bought it from and a link to the streetview pic?

    And just out of curiosity, do you remember how much you paid?

  7. #7
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    The store is called Kane Soh, and their web site is http://www.kanesoh.com/ I understand that they have been selling knives in that exact location for 5 generations now. Unfortunately, streetview does not seem to have gone down that particular side street (more of a narrow alley, really, as when I bought the knife I remember being kind of worried walking down it in the dark with everything else shuttered down).

    When I had walked into the store at the time, I remember that they had three display windows on the walls, and a long counter (all in a shop which was the size of a pretty decent closet). When I asked the owner of the shop for a Yanagi-ba, in my very halting Japanese, he immediately pointed to the obviously-less-expensive set of the three, while I pointed at the obviously-best set. After much gesticulating, we seemed to finally settle on the middle range, which I now understand must have been the blue steel set (with the other being their ordinary line, and their professional line, from what I now see on their web site).

    Much as they apparently still do today, after I chose the knife, the owner plopped down behind the counter and spent 20 minutes sharpening the knife for me, finishing on a large barber's leather strop. He then took a sheet of newspaper, and very prowdly sliced it in half vertically roughly 3 inches away from where he was holding it!!! This may be my memory playing tricks on me, but the picture of the older guy in a blue shirt which I have seen on the internet here and there really reminds me of the guy (also in a blue shirt!) who sold me the knife at the time...

    I do not remember exactly how much I actually paid or the knife, but I had set my budgetto 10,000 JPY, so it should not have been more than that. This would mean that the price went up by 40% in 20 years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenStefano View Post
    Hopefully someone in the shop has been there since you bought the knife.
    They make their own knives, and the three characters which make up the name of the store are the same ones punched on the knife blade (this is how I figured out in the end that I had the right place!). So they should not have any problems recognizing the knife as one of theirs, even if 20 years later...

  9. #9
    Senior Member shankster's Avatar
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    I love the Google translation for the 135mm stainless clad petty "not rust even if you turn off the fruit" classic...

  10. #10
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    Wow, right now that's less than $200. Good price!
    Francesco
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