"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
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.
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.
Inside the trashcan I somehow remembered.
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.
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.
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...
Mr. Doi happily holding his Hayate line knife
Gorgeous sashimi presentation
My plate of appetizer
My mother and Mr. Aoki enjoyed this kanimiso (crab brains according to the internet) by mixing hot sake into it.
Fresh crab legs ready to be cooked. I swear eating crab is an activity.
Mr. Doi enjoying his drinks
Mr. Doi tickled pink. I realize he's this grand master, but he was an adorable man.
We had our resident photographer take pictures of all of Mr. Doi's fans for an album with a message from each customer.
Suisin had left over carbon so had Mr. Doi make these petty yanagis for fun. LOL
Thank you for reading!