Been out of the Japanese knife game for a while...

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Canadian, Aug 26, 2019.

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  1. Aug 26, 2019 #1

    Canadian

    Canadian

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    7 years to be exact, and I have been browsing online vendors and forums to sort of play catch up. Here are some of my observations:

    1. All knife prices have gone up 25-35% or more (Carter has gone up 50% for example)

    2. Kurouchi finish is WAY more popular than it used to be.

    3. Perception of what an expensive knife is has changed. The KS at OLD prices was considered a pricey production knife, and a Shig at $400 was an extravagance/grail knife for many.

    4. I should have bought boxes of Masamoto KS Gyutos when they were under $280 a pop.

    5. The KS is the most copied knife profile EVER, yet, nothing can really replace a KS.

    6. I wish I never sold ANY of my Shigefusas.

    7. Whose this Kato guy?

    8. The 'Semi-Stainless' marketing trend took off like a rocket.

    9. There are many newly introduced brands. Some new, and some have been around awhile in Japan. I think the market is now saturated at the lower end.

    10. There has been a proliferation of 'artisanal' western makers creating 'Japanese' style knives.

    11. It's becoming harder to wade through everything that is available in an effort to discern the quality makes from the mediocre and the profiteers. This makes old guard brands like Masamoto, Misono, and Mizuno give me warm fuzzy feelings.

    12. Human nature/behaviour is constant.
     
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  2. Aug 26, 2019 #2

    WildBoar

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    Great summary! and welcome back!
     
  3. Aug 26, 2019 #3

    flying hippo

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    Thanks for the perspective. I think that's really helpful


    1 to 10: Maybe we are experiencing a market bubble with increased production and rising prices? Something may give at some point

    12: Something something fools something money something parted.

    Edit: Please don't ask me what I have coming in the mail.
     
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  4. Aug 26, 2019 #4

    Canadian

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    Thanks!
     
  5. Aug 26, 2019 #5

    Canadian

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    I agree. I also think some vendors are artificially inflating the prices on some lesser-known artisan maker's knives - specifically in target of the western markets. However, someone is buying them so your point about something fools something money and other holds true.
     
  6. Aug 28, 2019 #6

    Barashka

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    That's very interesting to hear!

    What do you think about some of the newer brands that came out just in last few years? Or maybe newer lines of knives from older brands? Did you notice profile / grind differences? Steel choices? F&F differences?
     
  7. Aug 28, 2019 #7

    osakajoe

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    There were also about 2 price increases by Japanese steel manufacturers and handle makers within the past few years.
    Well now that I think of it, most manufacturers on all levels have gone up if you’ve been gone awhile.
     
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  8. Aug 28, 2019 #8

    Canadian

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    Can't comment on grind(s) or F&F, but it seems that "Sabatier" and "KS" have become marketing terms in relation to profiles.

    Interestingly, Watanabe has become relatively popular again. His knives were popular during the 1st wave of Japanese knife madness, but lost flavour thereafter. Tadatsuna was super trendy at one point, but rarely gets mentioned anymore.

    In terms of production 'working' knives, only Ashi Hamono really gets me excited (with respect to new discoveries), and I'm currently investigating a purchase :).

    Lastly, I really miss KCMA's posts...

    And I wish BdL still posted. It seems his blog has been inactive for a while too.
     
  9. Aug 29, 2019 #9

    Cyrilix

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    Seems like Watanabe is a timeless classic. Price is right, performance is right, a little rough around the edges.
     
  10. Aug 31, 2019 #10

    Customfan

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    Welcome back!

    Interesting thread.... all in all, there still are good buys out there, Watanabe is a good example..
     
  11. Aug 31, 2019 #11

    Koakuma

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    As someone who just started, I really appreciate this kind of thread. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
     
  12. Aug 31, 2019 #12

    labor of love

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    If you didn’t already know KCMA passed away...
    Also, in 2010 I purchased my first rika stone for $50, what a deal. Then 2 monthes ago I purchased the rika again...for $50!
    As I and others have noted the simultaneous rise in jknife prices and proliferation of custom makers have created this area in the market where I’m passing over $450 jknives in favor of $500 customs. Still quite willing to drop $600+ for a jknife but now I atleast pause and consider my options more than I used to.
    I feel like most customs were just too unobtainable several years back with a couple dozen big names the forum loved yet all their stuff was starting at $750 or more, now that isn’t the case.
     
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  13. Aug 31, 2019 #13

    JohnnyChance

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    And the ones that were affordable/attainable performed significantly worse than comparatively priced Japanese knives.
     
  14. Aug 31, 2019 #14

    Canadian

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    There has been a proliferation of 'custom' makers in the last 5-10 years. Of course, many of these makers are not actually forging the blades, but cutting and grinding from bar stock. Nothing wrong with that, but to be honest 95% of the custom work I see has little to no appeal to me aesthetically, and the prices being asked...

    I love traditionally handcrafted knives such as those from Shigefusa in the same way that I love traditional tailoring or woodworking - a way of elevating the everyday with an emphasis on the craft, materials and finish. However, the maker REALLY has to stand out to me for me to even take notice.

    But I also love some 'industrial' knives like the Masamoto KS and vintage Sabs in the same way that I love iconic design objects such as the Parker 51, Explorer 1016 and the Thonet chair. When everything coalescess into a design that makes it something truly special (in form and function), then it becomes an object of admiration and desire - for better or worse (think the second-hand Leica market, Rolex, Eames, and now Masamoto KS). I'm glad I was able to snag one at retail.
     
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  15. Aug 31, 2019 #15

    Canadian

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    Yeah I was still around when that happened - really sad.

    Love Suehiro stones. I also have the Rika 5000 - it sure hits a sweet spot. It's the only finishing stone I will ever need.
     
  16. Sep 2, 2019 #16

    vitreous

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    It's funny how the brain works on pricing. I remember when I first saw a $200 knife and the idea of spending that much blew my mind. 6 months later I barely gave the $200 knives a glance as I looked at the $300-$350 range, having normalised the price in my mind. These days I'm sitting around the "$600 is reasonable" mindset, on pretty much the same income.
     
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  17. Sep 2, 2019 #17

    pete84

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    +1

    Wait till the threshold is $1k+ as "reasonable" and an Ashi honyaki at $3-5k starts to look like an attainable grail
     
  18. Sep 2, 2019 #18

    Chef Doom

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    The OP should have never returned.

    We hate you. Go Away!
     
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  19. Sep 3, 2019 #19

    TB_London

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    Haha good summary, past 10 years have really seen kitchen knives take off. I do kind of miss the whole sending a money order to japan and seeing what turns up aspect. Now there are new makers being unveiled everyday.
    Also miss the input of a lot of the old names
     
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  20. Sep 3, 2019 #20

    flying hippo

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    From drugabuse.gov:

    "Tolerance occurs when a person no longer responds to the drug in the same way that person initially responded. Stated another way, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially."

    I'm not saying that it's exactly the same but they aren't completely different either.
     
  21. Sep 3, 2019 #21

    Barmoley

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    Oh there is absolutely and addiction facet to this whole collecting thing. Before I get yelled at for calling people here collectors, most are, embrace it. Once you have more than a few gyutos of the same length you are a collector as there is no rational or utilitarian reason for it.
     
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  22. Sep 3, 2019 #22
    $400 each.

    Found this pic while cleaning up puter. A confluence of recently purchased Shig, and passaround Kato WH and Mario. Damn 400 was a lot just a few years ago.

    Shig Kato Mario.png
     
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  23. Sep 5, 2019 #23

    gcsquared

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    I associate “collecting” to a state of mind. A chef with 5 chefs knives of the same length floating around just for the sake of convenience or whatever is probably not considered a “collector”. But someone who has 5 Katos of different styles / lengths could be a collector if he/she treats them
    as a collection.
     
  24. Sep 6, 2019 #24

    valgard

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    What is "collection treatment"? Not using? Because I use and sharpen/polish pretty much all my knives (save for one SB), and I sure as hell am a collector.
     
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  25. Sep 6, 2019 #25

    flying hippo

    flying hippo

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    How long ago was that exactly? Do you have a date on that picture?
     
  26. Sep 6, 2019 #26
    I couldn't tell you exactly when yesterday was. Pic is probably from 2012ish.
     
  27. Sep 6, 2019 #27

    gcsquared

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    Probably “treats” is a confusing word choice. Perhaps “perceives”?

    Likewise! I would consider myself a collector with 40-50 knives and I have no issues using any of them. But I will also say someone with just 5 knives could also be a collector. So it’s a mentality (I know it’s essentially paraphrasing “state of mind”). Collecting in my view has nothing to do with usage or quantity or rationale.

    Of course, there is no definitive delineation between a collector and a non-collector. So by nature, it has to be ambiguous.
     

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