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Help! Can anyone identify this Japanese knife?

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dglevy

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Help! Can anyone identify this Japanese knife? I bought it from an unscrupulous person who promised to provide me with a certificate of authenticity and then never returned my phone calls. (Yes, foolish me...) It's carbon steel, works very well, but, after 5 years of service I would LOVE to know its name...
 

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EShin

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手打 Hand made
安来鋼 Yasuki Steel (Yasuki Steel factory owned by Hitachi)
青鋼入 Blue Steel inserted (so it’s probably a cladded knife, with blue steel as core)

That’s all I can say based on the Kanji’s, which won’t help you much I’m afraid.
 

dglevy

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手打 hand-made
安来鋼 Yasuki steel (Yasuki steel factory owned by Hitachi)
青鋼入 blue steel inserted (so it’s probably a cladded knife, with blue steel as core)
That’s all I can say based on the kanjis, which won’t help you much I’m afraid.
Thanks, EShin, that actually helps a great deal--it's a lot more than I knew before! :p (And thank you also, KenHash, for giving his reply the thumbs-up, which increases my confidence that the translation is accurate.) It confirms what I suspected, that it's a probably a high quality knife which was worth the $140 I paid for it, considering the fine handle, the Hitachi steel, and its performance over the past 6 years. And, more importantly, it tells me that there is NO further information in the kanji that would tell me who the maker is, is that correct?
 
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KenHash

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Thanks, EShin, that actually helps a great deal--it's a lot more than I knew before! :p (And thank you also, KenHash, for giving his reply the thumbs-up, which increases my confidence that the translation is accurate.) It confirms what I suspected, that it's a probably a high quality knife which was worth the $140 I paid for it, considering the fine handle, the Hitachi steel, and its performance over the past 6 years. And, more importantly, it tells me that there is NO further information in the kanji that would tell me who the maker is, is that correct?
Well looks like no one is around to answer you, so.....Yes, that is correct.
Out of curiosity what was this COA supposed to certify? Was any maker's name given?
 

dglevy

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I was mistaken in calling it a COA, the seller said he would provide a 'letter of authenticity', which I never got, despite many, many calls and text messages. I looked over my notes from 5 years ago. (I inserted some clarifications.):
I came across a sticky note on my desk. In my handwriting, "Moritaka (mentor of)" Next line, "Fumi Takashayi". Next line, presumably in Janny's [the seller's] handwriting, <<"ANRAI DO" group>>. I don't know what that is referring to, it was so long ago [purchased the previous year]. Nothing comes up in Google for 'anrai', 'anrai do', or 'anraido' with 'group' added or without.
[An American friend who spoke fluent Japanese] was very firm that 'Takashayi' is not an authentic name. The combination of vowels at the end, "ah-ee" is not Japanese. She said there has to be a consonant in between, or it might be inverted, Takahashi or Takashima. Web search on both those names yielded nothing…
A search on "knife moritaka teacher" yielded this
page
with lots of history about a sword-maker. This might be the same Moritaka who makes kitchen knives because the page also refers to a 26th generation maker. CTKG also says
, "Moritaka Cutlery is a traditional knife making company that has a very long and storied history. The Moritaka family has been making knives for hundreds of years." The knives are HRC 64-65 Aogami, 50/50 bevel. The 150 mm is $130 shipped . But that's with what looks like a ho wood handle.
Mine is a 120mm, slightly shorter, but with a higher quality handle. I paid $140 for it, so we're in the same ballpark. What's more, that Moritaki knife is made with Aogami (Hitachi blue steel), which is the same steel as, or similar to, my knife. They are both kurouchi too. All this seems to fit together. Seems like the maker of my knife was an apprentice with Moritaka, but what was his name??
 
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KenHash

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You could also have gotten information on Moritaka Hamono here:

In any case, your English romanization of the Maker's name is exactly as you say; inaccurate. But even if you had it, nothing on Moritaka's site makes reference to people who may have studied there but left. That is pretty much to be expected anywhere. About the only way you'd find out is if the maker opened his own shop and made reference to having learned at Moritaka. Too bad you didn't get anything in writing in Japanese.
That mysterious "Anrai Do" sounds to me like a possible misreading of 安来鋼 Yasugikou.
(First 2 kanji can be read Anrai)
Can't be much more help with what little information you have. I presume by janny you mean the seller japanny?
 

GBT-Splint

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Maybe you could find more info by removing the handle. Sometime the name of the maker is written on the tang.
 

dglevy

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Interesting suggestion, but I'm not going to intentionally remove that beautiful handle. I don't have the skill set. Maybe, someday, if/when the handle needs to be replaced, it will all come clear! ;)
At least, thus far, no one has pointed out problems with the notion that this knife was made by a student/apprentice of Moritaka. That gets me a lot closer to at least some sort of identity for the knife. I can call it "in the style of Moritaka" or "by a student of Moritaka", or some such.
Janny's handle is 420layersofdank. I should have been more careful just based on the handle... But please don't contact him about this, it's water under the bridge, at this point.
  • Is Yasugikou a place name?
  • Is it common for Japanese makers to stamp details of the knife steel but not bother say who the maker is? That's mystifying to me. I would think that's the most important information--who made the damn thing...
 
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KenHash

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- Yasugikou means Yasugi Steel. Actually Yasugi can be read Yasuki as well. Yasugi City is in Shimane Prefecture and in the old days steel was made using iron sand from there. Today when you see Yasugikou it means a steel made in the Yasugi Specialty Steel factory (YSS) there, which is owned by Hitachi.
YASUGI SPECIALTY STEEL (hitachi-metals.co.jp)
Not sure if it includes others,. but I have seen White, Blue and Yellow Paper steels described as Yasugikou. Also oftentimes described as Nihonkou (Japanese steel) by some brands/makers.

This video in English is very informative. I strongly recommend this.
About Japanese Yellow, White, Blue Paper steels | HITACHI社 Yasuki Steel - YouTube

- It is "fairly" common for knifemakers to stamp the steel type. But it is not too common for a knife to have the steel stamped but no maker/brand. The other way around may be more common. I have also seen some knives that had no markings at all. Also, don't worry about removing the handle. "Some" makers do have their name on the nakago (tang) in the traditional way, but it's not all that common today.
 
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