Takefu knife village (Masakage, Kurosaki, Anryu, ...) and other knives (Terayasu Fujiwara, Yamawaku)
There were recently some discussions here regarding knives made by various makers from Ezichen. Yesterday I visited JapanseMessen, one of the largest J-knife webshops in Europe (and only a couple of kilometers from my house ). I was able to see and try quite of few of these knives. And I got more insight in knife making there.
A number of knife makers and sharpeners have united themselves in a group called Takefu knife village. They work together in various constellations and under various brand names, although there are common threads. Here they are (from a brochure I got):
The knife that was on top of my list was a Masakage Yuki 170 mm ko bunka. It has a very nice nashiji (pear skin or snow) finish. However, I also got some reports here that it had pretty big shoulders and that it was not a great cutter.
When I tried the knife, it indeed was not the thinnest behind the edge and I could imagine that the shoulders could cause it to wedge. Fortunately I could also try a Masakage Koishi, made of stainless cladded AS steel. Apparently this is Makage's top line and forged by Hiroshi Kato himself. And this one had a very nice geometry/grind. Reasonably thick above the heel (about 3.4 mm), but thin behind the edge. And with a very nice tapering...
However, there were also a couple of Kurosaki knives... And these knives did not only have a beautiful kurouichi finish, but also a very similar grind to the Masakage Koishis. They were also made of stainless cladded AS. The main differences were that they tapered slightly less towards the tip and seemed even thinner above the edge. So thin that I thought they were ground hollow, but this was apparently an optical illusion. I think this knife will cut very well, but it is not for the anxious ones.
I had a hard time choosing. I eventually opted for the Masakage, mainly because of the very nice tapering.
The shop also carries Anry knives, another knife maker from Echizen. Well... not for me. The one I saw (a nakiri) had a nice tapering towards the tip, but was pretty thick above the edge. Maybe it was just this knife, but I like the Masakage Koishis and the Kurosaki knives a lot better.
Anton recommended me on this forum a Yamawaku knife. I'd never heard of it, but this shop carried the brand. And when I saw a knife... I was sold. And it wasn't even a gyuto, but a nakiri. I've never seen a Kato knife in real life, but this Yamawaku has the same grind the Katos have on pictures: pretty thick at the spine and then going down towards the edge in nearly a straight line. In addition it's made of V2 steel (uncladded or cladded with iron) and it has a very nice kurouchi. Unfortunately they did not have a 210 mm gyuto anymore, but I'm on the list for the next batch to arrive . The fact that the knife costs less than EUR 100 wasn't detrimental to this decision, but if it'd cost twice as much, I'd probably still have ordered it.
I've asked a couple of questions on Terayasu Fujiwara on this forum, and today I can answer them . The shop carries all three lines of Fujiwara: nashiji, maboroshi and denka. I think all three lines are great cutters: they all three have similar grinds, are very thin behind the edge and have a nice tapering towards the tip. The nashiji line is the cheapest. It must be the definition of rustic. The blades do not only have a very nice (yes, nashiji) finish, but the spine and choil are sometimes sharp. Plain sharp. Normally I don't care for a rounded edge or choil, but I'd probably do that on this line. So when someone advised me the maboroshi line because of the better blade finish, I now understand why. The maboroshi knives still have a nice look on the blade (also hammered), but are finished better. I found the finger choil, of which I did not know whether I'd like it, very comfortable, by the way. Is the maboroshi line worth the extra money over the nashiji line? I think it's personal, but for me it is. (My wallet was nearly empty already, however . This one's for Christmas...)
The denka knives have a similar finish as the maboroshi line. Only they have an added kurouchi. And the blades are made of AS steel, whereas the other blades are made of shirogami. However, the denka knives cost more than twice as much as the maboroshi ones. Are they worth it? Well... not to me probably.
So then it was time to go home. I also brought this cute little (135 mm) santoku with me: a Tadafusa KNT-135 made of cladded shirogami.
I've seen enough new J-knives for at least a week .
Originally Posted by CoqaVin
Great write up. Thanks for sharing.
Superb info and it mirrors my experience with Masakage, Kurosaki and Fujiwara - and yes the Maboroshi is worth the price tag when bought direct from the maker, I find them exceptionally beautiful and efficient.
Next time check the Murata, I can't put their Western Nakiri down, that damn thing literally resonates and sings!
Thanks for putting this up, good info
Thank you for a write up - sounds like you really enjoyed it
Did you have a look at the SLD Tadafusa knives? They look quite interesting.
No, I didn't. They have such an awesome amount of knives you really have to focus beforehand on what you want to see. (Even just the number of Tadafusas is very large.)
But I looked them up at their site and I must say the tsuchime ones (particularly the S43) look very nice. It's for the next time I go there .
The Fujiwara information is helpful to me, thank you. I knew of the hagane distinction and kurouchi finish that set the Denka apart from Maboroshi but at double the cost, I was wondering what other revelation I had missed. You're right to observe there is little information out there. Comments appreciated
Drawman, as far I was able to observe, the main difference between the Maboroshi and the Denka line is that the Maboroshi is made of laminated shirogami and the Denka is made of laminated aogami supersteel. The finish of both blades is different (notably the kurouchi on the Denka's), but I wouldn't say it is better on the Denka's. Both types of blades seem to have the same profile and the same grind. And they can be had with the same handles.