In Kyoto, should I buy an Aritsugu knife

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Phknife, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. Jul 18, 2019 #1

    Phknife

    Phknife

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    Hi,

    I am currently in kyoto and I have some questions that I have not been able to get answers to. I am quite new to professional knives but got a good rough lecture before I traveled here and I have been doing some reading over the last days. The one giving me the rough lecture was a japanese man that has a professional knife shop in my country and he recommended me to buy an Aogami or Shirgami carbon steel knife from Aritsugu if I traveled to Kyoto. I have done some research on stainless stell vs carbon steel and I think I want to a VG10 or an Aogami or Shirogami Carbon steel. From what I understand Aritsugu does not produce any VG10 steels my question below is regarding carbon steel. They are very polite and kind here in Kyoto but unfortunately not so proficient in English so I get answers that don't line up with what I read.

    Apparently the 100% Blue steel (Aogami) is sold out and they have two Sontuko models available in the store. One model with SK95 carbon steel (what I understand is SK4?) and one model with the inside/middle part being blue steel (aogami) and surrounded on both sides by stainless steel (which makes it heavier and the handle is not equally as nice in my opinion). The SK4 knife costs ~18k Yen for 21cm and the other model costs ~16k Yen for 19/20cm.

    Is it worth it to buy a SK4 knife from Aritsugu or should I look for pure aogami knives from other brands (and if so, what should I look for here in Kyoto). I was recommended to buy aogami or shirogami and I got very insecure when they only had SK4 carbon steel and they can't really explain the difference in the store and all I can read about it is that it is quite low quality of carbon steel?

    Unfortunately I will travel from Kyoto on Sunday and therefore have limited time...

    Thanks in advance for all help that I can get!
     
  2. Jul 18, 2019 #2

    J.C

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    I have one aritsugu yanagiba (blue steel) very good quality and craftsmanship. Very easy to sharpen and cuts like dream!
     
  3. Jul 18, 2019 #3

    ojisan

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    I'm not sure if the information I have is up to date, but anyway try to drop some info.

    Kyoto Aritsugu should have Jousei(上製)/Tokusei(特製)/Tsubanashi(ツバ無し)lines for mono steel gyutos and santoku-gyutos. Jousei and Tokusei should have bolsters and Tsubanashi doesn't. However, they discontinued Jousei and Tsubanashi gyutos (and santoku-gyuto) yeas ago so what available now is only Tokusei 18cm and 21cm. I was believing Jousei was made of Aogami 2, and Tokusei was Shirogami 2, but if you were told that it was made of SK95, my understanding was incorrect.
    For steel/stainless cladding knives, they have Heijo-Ippin (western handle) and Wagokoro (japanese handle) lines.

    I don't know which models you tried. If the one with SK95 didn't have a bolster, it could be one in the Tsubanashi line (if they still have stock). However, I'm not pretty sure if the price you got was correct. Tokusei 21 cm costed around 14k yen when I checked (maybe price up?). I assume the one with cladding is in Heijo-Ippin line.

    If you mean Honyaki by 100%. It sounds hard to find one at Aritsugu. They might accept a special order, but hard to believe they have one in stock.

    Stainless steel cladding is not bad at all IMO, especially the core steel is aogami. It's easy to maintain and gets sharp easily. I would choose stainless steel cladding over SK95.
     
  4. Jul 18, 2019 #4

    ojisan

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    It seems Jousei: Aogami 2 and Tokusei: Shirogami 2 applies only to their single beveled knives? Tokusei Gyuto could be SK95 mono steel... but in that case, 18k yen sounds a bit pricy. You can buy a Shirogami 2 mono steel gyuto from Ashi-hamono for that price...
     
  5. Jul 18, 2019 #5

    riba

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    You're buying a memory for your journey.
    You bought either a great knife or the first knife in a long knife journey. Just pick what looks at you.

    (Fwiw, I personally don't care too much about the actual steel. I got some great yellow steel knives)
     
  6. Jul 19, 2019 #6

    Mute-on

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    Firstly, as @riba said, it is a memory from your journey, so I would certainly buy something. I have bought many knives in Japan for this reason, even though some are available online, outside Japan.

    Secondly, in your shoes, I would buy the “model with the inside/middle part being blue steel (aogami) and surrounded on both sides by stainless steel“. This translates to a San-mai construction (carbon steel core with stainless cladding) blade.

    Aogami is generally more wear resistant than Shirogami, so the edge will stay sharp a little longer. The stainless cladding will not rust or patina. The aogami core will patina (turn darker) with use but will not rust unless you leave it wet. It is a very common construction and an excellent combination of materials that gives you the benefits of a high carbon core, and a rust resistant cladding.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
  7. Jul 19, 2019 #7

    osakajoe

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    That seems quite expensive for an SK steel knife. You visiting other places while in Japan. A quick search online and here will bring up other places to look at.
     
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  8. Jul 19, 2019 #8

    vk2109

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    Ditto with Osakajoe. it's expensive for an SK4. Honestly I went to Aritsugu in May to have a look and it's heavily marked up for what they sell. a lots of tourists around.
    If you are traveling to Tokyo give a try to Masamato Tsukiji or the Tsukiji Aritsutgu as well. better prices and they open from 6am.
    if you;re only staying in kyoto, try this place as well they have excellent knives : Shigeharu. It's next to the Nijo Castle.
     
  9. Jul 19, 2019 #9

    khashy

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    They did have one honyaki gyuto when I visited them in Feb. It looked nice enough, they couldn’t tell me much about it. I do remember it had a bizarrely small handle
     
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  10. Jul 20, 2019 #10

    Phknife

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    Bug thank you for all the input! Impressive of the knowledge here!

    I went to the Takashimaya department store in Kyoto as they sell Aritsugu knives as well. I found the knife below which they say is blue steel. However, they don’t have more detail info so that I can confirm what I am buying. Do any of you experts have a clue on this?

    I will now go and visit Kikuichimonji as they might have VG10 knives. From what I have read on this forum, Kikuichimonji is a well respected producer (but as Aritsugu, don’t make their knives themselves).
     

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  11. Jul 20, 2019 #11

    HRC_64

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    Keep in mind that the knife that feels good in your hand and has the profile you like is more likely to get used...
    and the more you can use your souvinir the more value it ultimatly will have to you as well, especially if its everyday.

    That being said, I tend to agree with Osaka joea and others up above, that OP knife seems a bit pricy (18K JPY / SK steel)
    the tokyo version of artisugo-shop also has fairly reasonable prices IIRC/if the website is accurate etc

    (if you're going there).
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  12. Jul 20, 2019 #12

    ojisan

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    The picture shows the knife has a 上 "jou" mark on it, that would mean the knife is in the Jousei line. So it should be one fromthe high-end line of Arirsugu and it's not hard to believe it's made of aogami, if the store staff told so. 15k yen sounds not bad to me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  13. Jul 20, 2019 #13

    Moooza

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    Their fit and finish can be absolutely awful, almost laughable. Check the knife closely before leaving. I like their stainless clad super aogami knives - great everyday knife.
     
  14. Jul 20, 2019 #14

    Eric Chevallier

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    Come to Sakai knives museum, and buy it directly from the craftman. Its cheaper and more choice ;)

     
  15. Jul 20, 2019 #15

    Eric Chevallier

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    Aogami knives have always the kanji 青
    Blue steel 1
    青一 Aoichi

    Blue steel 2
    青紙 Aogami
    青鋼Aoko
    青二Aoni

    White steel 1
    白一Shiroichi

    Ginsan
    銀三Ginsan

    If nothing or other kanji for carbon knife it mean its shirogami 2, white steel 2.
     
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  16. Jul 20, 2019 #16

    Eric Chevallier

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    All are seller or grossist, not makers. If you want real knife for a good price, visit the Sakai knife museum ;)

     
  17. Jul 20, 2019 #17

    Eric Chevallier

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    Strange to hear they cant tell more about a knife, for a knife specialist...


     
  18. Jul 20, 2019 #18

    ojisan

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    Assuming the op doesn't have time to visit Sakai, I'd say buying a knife from a reseller is not a bad thing at all and resellers do have real knives (with some extra), so don't worry.
     
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  19. Jul 20, 2019 #19

    adam92

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    I went to kyoto aritsugu about a month ago, to be honestly, they knife fit & finish not worth it .

    at least not for the medium or low end.

    I'll say sakai knife blacksmitch will much better than that.

    sakai Takayuki 界孝行
    Address :1-chōme-2-28 Zaimokuchōnishi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Ōsaka-fu 590-0941, Japan

    鄉右马允义宏
    Address :1-chōme-2-21 Shukuyachōnishi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Ōsaka-fu 590-0937, Japan

    一杆子忠钢 ickansi tatadsuna ?
    永田刃物
    address 1-chōme-1-4 Kainochōhigashi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Ōsaka-fu 590-0953, Japan

    Sakai Jikko

    Address: 1-chōme-1-9 Nishikinochōnishi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Ōsaka-fu 590-0931, Japan

    these knife much better than kyoto aritsugu .

    I found out sakai jikko have very good fit & finish, but also much more expensive than other.
     
  20. Jul 20, 2019 #20

    Eric Chevallier

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    Aritsugu have good stuff, the same that you have in Sakai but more expensive.
    Jikko or other brand are seller too, so its same to buy to Aritsugu.
    If somebody want a traditional knife from the craftman there is just three place in Sakai, Sasuke, Mizuno (for may be 1/3 of his products) and Sakai knife museum.

     
  21. Jul 20, 2019 #21

    adam92

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    Do you know the,kanji of sasuke?

    i only know mizuno tanrenjo
     
  22. Jul 20, 2019 #22

    Eric Chevallier

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    He is my former master
    佐助 but the real kanji have a _ under the 助. Its the old kanji but actual japanese keyboard cant type it
    For the museum its 伝統産業会館。
    You have the son of sharpener Yauchi八内 too, he will begin to sell his knife begining of next year

     
  23. Jul 20, 2019 #23

    ojisan

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    That comparison might be unfair. For example, if you want a 150mm White 2 deba, prices would look like (all catalogue prices):

    Sakai Takayuki (堺孝行): 26,800 (Tokujou, maybe forged by Togashi-san)
    Sakai Jikko(堺實光): 28,728 (Jousaku)
    Ikkanshi-Tadatsuna(一竿子忠綱): 2,9160
    Kyoto Aritsugu: 1,9440 (Tokusei)

    As Eric mentioned in another thread, finishing is not so important especially when you choose a traditional Japanese knife. (construction is much much more important otherwise your knife will warp or you cannot get a proper uraoshi, etc. etc.). So I 'd say, given these prices, Kyoto Aritsugu is doing a good job with (minor) trade off on cosmetic points.

    Wondering if Nagata-san (son) does heat (re?)treatment himself...

     
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