Information on "mainstream" high end Japanese brands such as Takeshi Saji and Sakai Takayuki?

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josemartinlopez

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My understanding is if I go to Kappabashi street in Tokyo (obviously difficult now, but I'd love to take a selfie in Tsubaya sometime this lifetime) and browse the higher end selection of a knife store there, I will likely find "mainstream" high end Japanese brands such as Takeshi Saji and Sakai Takayuki. Solid, very high quality knives with a longstanding following in the domestic market. I just can't find as much information on these in the old threads (or generally in English) -- nothing like the incredible Konosuke Fujiyama thread for sure!

Would anyone have any suggestions on where to find reviews and more information on these brands? These brands would be a great point of reference on the knife journey. I'd also be curious why these get less interest in this forum, though they are readily acknowledged as solid.
 

Moooza

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Instead of answering directly, take a look at the type of steel used. That should answer so many questions and you'll learn lots about steel and hopefully take you down a rabbit hole. Then, compare price and shape to other makers using the same steels. The comparison will also answer many questions.
 

NO ChoP!

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Sakai Takayuki brands so much stuff. There are a couple knives that have a good following, like the ginsan. Also, some of the higher ended single bevel stuff.

Saji is more known for aesthetics. This forum is all about performance. They make a damascus sg2 with an ironwood handle; so does Tanaka, and the Tanaka has a better grind, and a stronger following.

A friend at work has a 240mm Saji ginsan gyuto he spent $330 on, which was a big purchase for him (and he is happy with it). I find it to have zero distal taper, non rounded spine and choil, thin and flat grind- yet chunky behind the edge and at the tip, and a bead blast finish that's impossible to replicate.
 

NO ChoP!

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I don't know anyone who has used that particular steel type, but the knives themselves are similar to any other Saji variants. The aesthetic is awesome, performance is probably passable, but not enough to garner much attention here. But still very nice knives overall. Some like to have that one flashy knife in the kit.
 

Qapla'

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I've heard some good things about Takeshi Saji's ginsan single-bevel knives, but I can't verify anything myself.

Like the others have already said, Takayuki sells all sorts of j-knives at all sorts of price-levels, so a general statement about them is pretty meaningless.
 

Southpaw

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I’ve been interested in the Saji Blue 2 rainbow Damascus 240 mm wa Gyuto, it has a very me profile to it. Also Japanny (I think) has a VERY rad looking version of it with a yellow handle with black dots urushi wa handle on it.

Thing is I really have never heard ANYTHING about Saji performance and most of his stuff has weestern handle (and weird ones at that!) that I’m just not into.
 

spaceconvoy

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My understanding is if I go to Kappabashi street in Tokyo (obviously difficult now, but I'd love to take a selfie in Tsubaya sometime this lifetime) and browse the higher end selection of a knife store there, I will likely find "mainstream" high end Japanese brands such as Takeshi Saji and Sakai Takayuki. Solid, very high quality knives with a longstanding following in the domestic market. I just can't find as much information on these in the old threads (or generally in English) -- nothing like the incredible Konosuke Fujiyama thread for sure!

Would anyone have any suggestions on where to find reviews and more information on these brands? These brands would be a great point of reference on the knife journey. I'd also be curious why these get less interest in this forum, though they are readily acknowledged as solid.
Why would there be more information on these brands? Based on this and some of your other posts, you seem to have a very peculiar understanding of the world - that it operates to answer any questions you might have. Simply put, there's not much information about certain brands because there's not much excitement about them. People generally buy knives they want, then post about them - no one is crazy enough to meticulously catalog every brand of knife. Not only because people don't work that way, but also because anyone who's dipped even a toe in this hobby realizes that the majority of brands are made by just a handful of OEMs. Try comparing the less-expensive knives on CKTG and JCK: 33-layer damascus VG10, tsuchime vg10, damascus-tsuchime VG10, etc etc...

I don't know where you got the impression that Sakai Takayuki is a high-end brand, or that you would be able to find them in Tokyo 🤔 But please, go ahead, take the trip, and report back what you find. As for Takeshi Saji, he seems to have limited appeal outside of Japan. My personal theory is his gaudy style isn't what Westerners picture when they imagine 'Japanese craftsmanship,' but stands out as unique inside of Japan. But you won't get a good answer to "why doesn't more information exist?" other than - because no one was interested in providing it.
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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Sakai Takayuki has solid reputation for high end single bevel knives, but this forum is more about gyutos (especially 240 for good reason). Yamawaki Hamono being another example. Suisin wouldn’t draw as much attention if they didn’t make that great honyaki laser gyuto. Masamoto is being talked about mostly for its KS gyuto.
And tbh, Sakai Takayuki’s entry level gyutos remind me of aliexpress knives. Nothing wrong with Yangjiang products, but at that price point ($100-$200), I might choose even a Shun over Sakai Takayuki.

As for Saji, it’s easy to tell from pictures that their knives won’t be performers. I did browser quite a few pictures and videos of Saji as I really like the way some of their series look. I just couldn’t convince myself to pay for something I will never use.
 
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Hz_zzzzzz

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No Chop explained it pretty well. No much distal taper, thick grind, combined with being thick behind the edge. I think some mass produced knives might perform better. Another example is Doi gyuto. As famous as Doi family, the grind of their recent gyutos make me wonder if they know we cut root vegetables with gyutos.
 

toddnmd

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I’d hardly call either of those brands mainstream. I’ve only met one Japanese person who doesn’t think I’m nuts when I talk about the price range of my knives (And she also told me I should go to Niigata sometime to go knife shopping.) And a lot of Japanese people I’ve met have NO IDEA that Japan is famous for its high quality knives! Shocking, isn’t it?
 

parbaked

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Saji made only hunting knives for years.
He started making kitchen knives late in life, as he saw business of his Takefu neighbors grow.
That is why his handles and grind are different from knives from the Village.
 

Honerabi

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Why would there be more information on these brands? Based on this and some of your other posts, you seem to have a very peculiar understanding of the world - that it operates to answer any questions you might have. Simply put, there's not much information about certain brands because there's not much excitement about them. People generally buy knives they want, then post about them - no one is crazy enough to meticulously catalog every brand of knife. Not only because people don't work that way, but also because anyone who's dipped even a toe in this hobby realizes that the majority of brands are made by just a handful of OEMs. Try comparing the less-expensive knives on CKTG and JCK: 33-layer damascus VG10, tsuchime vg10, damascus-tsuchime VG10, etc etc...

I don't know where you got the impression that Sakai Takayuki is a high-end brand, or that you would be able to find them in Tokyo 🤔 But please, go ahead, take the trip, and report back what you find. As for Takeshi Saji, he seems to have limited appeal outside of Japan. My personal theory is his gaudy style isn't what Westerners picture when they imagine 'Japanese craftsmanship,' but stands out as unique inside of Japan. But you won't get a good answer to "why doesn't more information exist?" other than - because no one was interested in providing it.
The last I noticed, the internet (most people's impression of "the world") is based on queries, or questions. Most people search for information on prospective purchases. In the case of these knives, many are sold out. There are more than a "handful" of OEM's, more like dozens. It seems that the high-end knives are eagerly snatched up. I base my selections on the steel type. I'm currently interested in the blue steels. Takeshi Saji works with the No. 2. His knives are available, and the bone-handled colored Damascus gyuto was my first acquisition. It's more of a western-style handle. I'm trying out a Yoshimi Kato super blue gyuto which is the classical japanese gyuto. If you're willing to spend a grand+ on a knife, then that's another category. Are you going to use it, or show it off?
 

Twigg

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No Chop explained it pretty well. No much distal taper, thick grind, combined with being thick behind the edge. I think some mass produced knives might perform better. Another example is Doi gyuto. As famous as Doi family, the grind of their recent gyutos make me wonder if they know we cut root vegetables with gyutos.
When do you feel this change occurred with Doi gyuto grinds?
 
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