Konosuke Fujiyama; A History

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Omega

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Konosuke Fujiyama; a History

The Konosuke Fujiyama is in contention for one of the best known knives of the past ten years. From their beginnings as an amazing performance-per-dollar knife with stellar fit and finish, to the more recent relative scarcity that have pushed aftermarket prices, and necessitated a buyer be ready to check out within minutes of a new batch, they have quite the history. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s a solid chance you’re well aware of them.

For me personally, Konosuke specifically is the reason why I am into Japanese knives to this day. Between a certain YouTube video of a Konosuke Honyaki, and a video of one of the first group buys from the original Knife Forums back in 2009, I went from saying “I could never spend that much for a knife!” to “…how can I get one?” in short order. But as that budding obsession took hold, and I ventured to the forums to hopefully find answers, I wound up with only more questions.

Who was the blacksmith?
Who was the sharpener?
What was the difference between the steels?
Why did some people swear up and down that the Blue 2s were magical, and the White steel variants would sit for weeks untouched?
Was there any truth to statements of “the Fujiyama of today are NOTHING like what they used to be” ?

Truthfully, it all seemed for not. I felt like instead of answers, I only found conflicting opinions. Frustrated, I stubbornly kept on; and that leads me to today-

I have spent the last four years reading, collecting, examining, and finally speaking with members of Konosuke personally. With this write up I hope to offer the best overview of the line that can be had. What follows below is both a history of the evolution of the Fujiyama, along with profile pictures, choil shots, and measurements of Twenty Four different Fujiyama gyuto.

If you don’t much care for the story of the inception of the Fujiyama, feel free to skip to below. I have included pictures of every Fujiyama referenced in this article, concluded with a master table of every knife, and all the notable measurements and details.

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When the president of Kosuke Kawamura went to open Konosuke knives in 2007, he had a very specific vision- he wanted to make new, exciting knives that hadn’t been seen before in Sakai. It was with this goal he approached the many storied blacksmiths and sharpeners of Sakai. One by one he met with them, and explained what he hoped to do- wanting to breath new life and options for creativity into the knife making community, and to raise the standard of living of everyone therein.

And one by one, he was rejected.

He was told he was naïve and foolish; that that’s not how things were done; that it wouldn’t work. No one believed in him or what he wanted to do.

Until he met a sharpener- Hiromi Morimoto, ‘Morihiro’.



Seen: Kosuke, left, and Morihiro, right

Morihiro heard what Kosuke wanted to do and was excited. The idea of getting to push his sharpening technique in, different ways.. to have more freedom to be creative.. this was captivating to him. Together, Morihiro and Kosuke set out to design something new- and thus created the Fujiyama.



Believe it or not, this was the first time a double bevel knife had ever been fashioned like this. The defined shinogi. The diagonal scratch markets on the hira. The lengthwise finishing on the kiraha. These were pioneered by Kosuke and Morihiro back in 2007. These stylings seem ubiquitous today- they can be had from places like Jikko and Kagekiyo. But these are all copies of the design Kosuke and Morihiro came up with back at the start of Konosuke back in 2007.

In addition to the profile of the knife, Morihiro implemented two other interesting facets that are mainstays on the Fujiyama to this very day- his way of mirror polishing and shaping the choil and spine. Iconic amongst those who love Fujiyama, creating this is no easy task- Morihiro actually had to design a new piece of equipment to accomplish this, and is why so few other knives have this styling: the only other individuals that can do it are those that have trained under Morihiro, and recreated this machine.










In this way, the Fujiyama is integral to the history of Konosuke as a company- the first original design, the proof of concept that there was still innovation to be had in knives, and the first step towards the future Kosuke hoped to help bring about.

Anyone who has used a Fujiyama can attest to their incredible grinds- but as we knife nuts know well, the grind is only half the story. The forging and heat treatment of the blade plays an important role. And for the Fujiyama, Konosuke employed one of the best in Sakai: Yoshikazu Tanaka.



Seen: Yoshikazu Tanaka

It’s hard to describe Tanaka-san in a way that does him justice. A true craftsman, he’s made it his life’s goal to try and unlock the full potential of hitachi carbon steel. Across years of crawling the forums, I’d come across different anecdotes of “the Fujiyama blacksmith’s favorite steel is blue”; or “the Fujiyama blacksmith is good at all steels, but he’s especially great in White 1”.

Having had a chance to use every single steel he offers, I can say this- he has a mastery of them all. I feel incredibly confident in saying, no matter what steel Fujiyama you purchase, you will not be getting one of lesser quality. If you have a preference, let that be your guide.

Now, this brings me to an important part of this history- in all my digging, I saw much pondering about the identities of the Fujiyama craftsmen, with many people speculating that across time and across steels, the craftsmen are different. They’d say, perhaps, for the Fujiyama san mai gyutos in white steels, up until 2014 it was one set of craftsmen, and then it changed. Or that they had multiple craftsmen in their employ and that they rotated from offering to offering.


This is Not the case.

For ALL san mai Fujiyama gyuto in White 1, White 2, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Blue Super:
The Blacksmith has, and continues to be Yoshikazu Tanaka.
The sharpener was exclusively- until 2018, Morihiro.

After 2018, we saw the introduction of two knew version of the Fujiyama- the FM and the FT. Both of these are Not sharpened by Morihiro.

Sometimes people will swear up and down that they saw information to the contrary posted on major retailer websites. As best I can tell, they are referring to these statements I was able to pull from the CKTG website from 2015:

(*)


(*)

In the first instance, the text means to say that the Blacksmith for the Fujiyama is different from the blacksmith of other non-Fujiyama Konosuke lines (HD/HD2, GS+, HH, etc.)

In the second instance, the text refers specifically to the Honyaki. For that case, yes- the blacksmith responsible for the Blue-steel traditional Fujiyama style wide bevel honyaki is a different blacksmith and sharpener than the White-steel laser style honyaki.

Blue Steel, Fujiyama-style Honyaki

(*)

(*) The use of the 3 print-grabs from the CKTG webapage was authorized by Mark Richmond of CKTG

White Steel, laser-style Honyaki



But, again- for ALL san mai Fujiyama gyuto, in White 1, White 2, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Blue Super, from 2007 until 2018:

The Blacksmith was Yoshikazu Tanaka

The Sharpener was Morihiro


To be fair, I can certainly understand why individuals might be compelled to think different craftsmen are involved- as you examine samples from year to year, a person does tend to see slight variation over time. From conversations with Kosuke and other members of the Konosuke staff, this largely seems to be a function of Morihiro. Never satisfied, he constantly was iterating on his designs, trying both to get better as a sharpener, but also to constantly improve what he thought the Fujiyama should be.

To date, I have had the opportunity to view of 50 Fujiyama, and have been able to compare 24 different samples, in different steels and from different years, concurrently. From this, I feel I can say I’ve observed a few general trends that allow all Fujiyama to be divided into four groups:

2007-2012
2013 – 2015
2016 - 2017
2018+
 
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Omega

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Lets talk about them:

First off, 2007 to 2012.
By far, this is my least represented group. Finding knives from those early years is very difficult.. even more so if you’re trying to find knives that haven’t been sharpened and or thinned. In all, I’ve found five examples that I’ve trusted to be non-altered, and can provide three pictures for people to see, below:

In this time, Morihiro was really pushing the limits of what Tanaka’s forging could handle. Fujiyama from this era seem to be impressively thin throughout. While later years would have similar thinness down at the edge, none would have the overall extreme laser feel. As you can see versus the control Konosuke HD, a knife marketed as a laser, a few of the Fujiyama are actually thinner at the spine.

2013-2015
This is the next major era, and allows me to show off one of my favorite aspects of my collection- a complete 240 gyuto set, from the same time, in all five steels. Admittedly, I think this is one of the most prominent time frames of Fujiyama- many more of these are around today than any of the other eras, save for perhaps the new FMs.

In general, the Fujiyama of this time got just a tad thicker at the spine. And that’s it… People have said before that the white’s varied significantly from the blues at this time- but if you look at the choil shots and the measurements, I think they’re a lot more similar than people let on.

2016-2017
Unfortunately, around this time, Fujiyama production really began to slow down. Very few shipments came in, and when they did, they were in fewer numbers than before. When inquiring with Konosuke why this might be the case, the answer that kept coming back was that it was because of Morihiro. After nearly a decade of making Fujiyama, and constantly trying to push his technique, he felt he had reached the peak of his abilities. In this, he felt.. almost lost. His desire for sharpening- of all knives –dropped. For a time, the only joy he felt from sharpening was in teaching young craftsmen his skill.

During this time Kosuke searched for things to help re-ignite that passion; to help inspire the creativity that had initially conceived of the Fujiyama, and hoped to bring back Morihiro’s drive. After two years of brainstorming and conversations, a new idea formed- the Vintage Carbon Kasumi. But that’s getting ahead of things- more on that later.

Despite not enjoying his work, we do see another trend emerge from Morihiro in this era- another thickening at the spine. If anything though, this worked to accentuate just how incredibly thin Morihiro was able to get these knives at the edge.

2018+
This category is an interesting one in that I need to split it into two qualifications: Fujiyama sharpened by Morihiro, and Fujiyama sharpened by either the FM or FT sharpeners.

There are very few offerings by Morihiro in this time frame- to date, only three samples. The first is four wide bevel Togo Reigo, the second is four “kasumi” Togo Reigo, that sport a radical departure from his typical Fujiyama grind, and the third is a random, incredibly limited run of 270mm B2 wide bevel gyuto.

For the wide bevel knives, these look incredibly similar to the 2016-2017 counterparts: the Togo Reigo wide bevel get a little wider still, and the B2 270 has the ever-so-slightest tweak to the geometry.. Word was that Morihiro had a sudden inspiration, and wanted to challenge himself.

The other groupings are the FM and FT Fujiyama.
Throughout 2016 and beyond, as Morihiro’s desire for sharpening waned, Kosuke started the search for a sharpener that could take the reigns. As one might expect, this was proved to be very difficult- finding someone with the talent to execute their vision, while being able to maintain consistency, was not easy. For so long, the Fujiyama was the pinnacle of what Konosuke put out: they wanted to make sure that any new craftsmen that took up the mantle would be able to continue the tradition of excellence.

Somewhere in this timeframe, they made connection with an extremely talented and accomplished sharpener. A relationship was built, and the new sharpener began to train- now directly with Konosuke, and Morihiro personally. After two long years of coaching and improving, he was ready to take the helm of general Fujiyama production- the ‘FM’ Fujiyama was born. Upon inspecting some of his first official production of the line, Morihiro was very impressed, state the new sharpeners skill was among the top in all of Japan. In true Japanese fashion, however, he insisted the new sharpener not be told this, so that his fire to improve would stay strong.

Later, in 2019, another variant was introduced- the ‘FT’ Fujiyama. These knives, also forged by Tanaka, are the project of another incredibly talented sharpener. These Fujiyama have a different grind from the FM Fujiyama, and sport a ‘frosted’ Damascus-like finish.

To the date of this writing, the identities of the FM and FT sharpeners have not been released to the public.
 
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Omega

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For those thinking words without pictures are kind of a waste, then this next section is what you’ve been waiting for: the profile and choil shot of 27 Konosuke knives; 25 Fujiyama, one White 2 Honyaki, and an original HD.

Below that is a Master Table of Statistics, with multiple data points for each knife presented.

#1 2014 Blue 2 240mm






#2 2014 Blue 2 240mm






#3 2018 Blue 2 FM 240mm






#4 2014 Blue Super 240mm






#5 2013 Blue 1 240mm



 

Omega

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MASTER TABLE OF STATISTICS




Legend of the Table:

Column 1: What’s the significance of the number?
None.
Just the order I happened to measure them

Year:
This is, as accurately as I can track down, the year the knife was initially purchased.
Some of these were purchased new by me.
Some of these I have to take at the word of the person who sold it to me.
Some of these have been corroborated by Kosuke

Steel:
Hopefully self explanatory.

Length:
First number is the advertised length.
Second number is the actual, measured length

Height:
Height from heel to spine, directly at choil.

Weight / Handle:
The weight of each knife, in grams.

The handles I tried to be as specific as possible.
All aftermarket handles are marked as custom.
SK stands for Studio Khii- the newer shop that supplies some of Konosuke’s handles.
Ho Wood and Kono Ebony are the original, standard handles.
The Rosewood handles are official Konosuke handles as well.

Jindai Tamo is a type of Japanese bog wood. I believe these were made by Studio Khii.


Thickness:
I took three measurements of each knife.
1) Directly Above the Choil
2) At the end of the Kanji. For knives without Kanji, I tried to be as close to the same spot as possible
3) At the end of the shinogi, on the cladding transition, or in an equivalent spot on those that don’t have one

*Miscellaneous
The Blue 1 Kurouchi- those numbers are the only one I contemplated not adding, as it has been flattened and sharpened on quite a bit.
The initial height was 50-51mm for reference.

For those interested in seeing things parsed out more; here are the knives divided year. This is the exact same information as above, just organized differently.




As you can see, across all steels, we see very, very similar numbers. Additionally, here is a photo of each choil shot edited side-by-side:



So when people say one steel is vastly superior to the others? I wouldn’t buy it. PERHAPS that user had a particularly eclectic example from a given set… But much more often then not, the differences between models are tiny.

Also, here is my treasured “all steels” group shot-



Crazy to me how incredibly similar these all are, despite some being released many months apart. The outlier, of course, being the White 2.

 
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Omega

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Togo Reigo
The Vintage Swedish Carbon or Togo Reigo Fujiyama represent a very special ongoing project from Konosuke- and special for a couple reasons. The first is the most obvious- the core steel. These knives use a very rare, and incredibly-difficult-to-forge-correctly steel known as Togo Reigo. This steel was made in the late 19th Century by the British Andrew Steel Company, and imported into Japan. It’s important, because at this time, most of the country relied on Tamahagane, which was both incredibly difficult to produce, but also arduous to process correctly. To some extent, Togo Reigo was like a super steel for them back in the day.

But does that mean its all hype?
Not at all.

For one, it is a very pure steel, with few impurities or additives, kind of like white 1; only it has a much higher carbon content- 1.5 – 1.6. For reference, hitachi labels their white 1 as being 1.25-1.35- and that’s the highest carbon content white they have. According to hitachi, their blue super contains around 1.40-1.50 percent carbon.

So this kind of helps understand why it gets described as being as easy to sharpen as white 1, but has edge holding like blue super- it has a greater purity than the former, and a higher carbon content than the latter.

What makes it so difficult to forge?
From what I understand, its mostly that it has a very, very narrow temperature range for forging and quenching- taking the steel outside this range will deteriorate the end product.. Of these two, especially the quench is perilous; blades can be lost entirely if not forged really, really well. And when you’re dealing with steel that hasn’t been in production since the 1950s, this is especially perilous.

So just from the materials used aspect, the Vintage Swedish Carbon series from Konosuke is super cool- an incredibly old steel, with amazing performance when forged correctly, with a lot of historical implications for Japan’s steel-using-industries, that helps to show the immense skill of Tanaka-san, the Fujiyama Blacksmith. During the first couple runs back in 2014, Konosuke styled these as they did all Fujiyama at the time. But much more interesting is how things have progressed to today.

As I had said before, for a time, Morihiro was feeling very lost with respect to sharpening. All his life he had strived to improve and get better.. and, to some extent, he felt he had reached the peak of what he was capable of. In wanting to help his friend, Kosuke began to talk about creating a new project- something they hadn’t done before; something to let Morihiro really stretch out and try something new, like when they had created the Fujiyama all those years ago.

The end result of this is the Togo Reigo Kasumi.



From the choil shot alone, you can see this is a radical departure from the wide bevel style Morihiro was famous for. The extremely thin, hamaguriba grind. The natural stone finish. Morihiro pushed himself hard with these- going as far as to severely cut back on his use of the large wheel stone, only using it to set the rough dimensions of each blade. He estimates that 70% of his process is done on bench stones- something that is unheard of in Sakai knife making. Its just too slow- the name of the game for most companies is being fast, and producing volume.

But for these, Morihiro took his time, and again crafted a knife unlike anything Sakai had seen.

Its hard to put into words just how special these blades are, too- a true natural stone polish like this.. it just doesn’t exist out of Sakai, for a couple reasons. For one, it’s the time- if you request a natural stone polish on your knife from any other sharpener, at best you’re getting some fingerstones rubbed on the blade after a standard mirror polish. They don’t have time to do what most people are envisioning, which is a full progression of natural stones like are seen on Nihonto.

The second reason is skill- the sharpeners in Sakai just don’t have the practice with natural stones. That’s not to say they’re unskilled as sharpeners- far from it! Its just to say, there’s not near as much overlap in using a large water wheel and synthetics to grind a knife to shape.. and having the encyclopedic knowledge of stones, and years of experience in your hands that a finish like this takes. The fact that Morihiro even CAN do this, much less Does do it, is a real anomaly in Sakai.

In a weird way, the legacy of Konosuke is very tied to this project, or at least Morihiro’s place. Konosuke really began because Morihiro and Kosuke wanted to make knives unlike any that had been seen before out of Japan. And here we are, over a decade later- a decade in which their success has driven their competitors to try and copy their style –and they’ve done it again.

This is the Konosuke Togo Reigo project- an excellent, rare, history laden steel; forged perfectly by one of the best living Blacksmiths; sharpened to a near art form by a craftsmen who constantly wants to improve.
 

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The FM Fujiyama
Hype is an interesting thing- we see it from time to time on different knives in the community, and its effects are varied. For some people, there’s a giant push of wanting to see what all the talk is about. For others, there’s a near instant response of dismissal and disdain- ‘why would I buy THAT when I can buy THIS over here for so much cheaper’. For others yet again, there’s a constant search for something new- hoping to get in on a product before it explodes in popularity.

Whichever side of that you land on, there’s no doubt that the Fujiyama has been one such product of hype. Whether its deserved or not is a subject many people like to throw their opinions at; but result of it on the future of Fujiyama is a little more concrete.

As I’ve said before, one of the things Morihiro and Kosuke always want to do is to improve; to innovate. So as the future of the Fujiyama seemed to be unclear, with Morihiro not wanting to sharpen, Kosuke began to ponder what the next step could be. If the Fujiyama were to evolve… what would that look like?

After much searching, and then even more training, they had a sharpener they were proud of. For the future of the Fujiyama, they wanted to be sure to lean into his strengths- his now freakish ability to dial in thinness behind the cutting edge.

This led them to an interesting point- did they want to do wide bevel knives, or hamaguriba?
While they had pioneered the style years prior, now it’s a very common thing to see from Sakai- whether true wide bevel, or just finished to give the knives a fake shinogi. Additionally, this was another chance to do something new- they felt, that unless they could produce a new wide bevel that was significantly above what Morihiro could do, they wanted to do something different.

And so, the new, hamaguri-style FM Fujiyama was born.

To be fair, I can understand the initial hesitation that was echoed in the community. There was something very iconic about Morihiro’s wide-bevel Fujiyama. And while the new FM Fujiyama certainly looked nice.. I wasn’t sure I was entirely on board. So, for those of you who have been sitting on the sidelines, wondering- this next section is for you. While not nearly as exhaustive in research as the above section, here is a break down of the old stock Fujiyama to the FMs.

The Grind
Pictures tell this one best- here is a group shot I edited together of the choil shots of every Blue 2 Fujiyama I have:



Very thin down by the edge, though perhaps a little more thickness in the middle third. That said, in deep enough cuts that go up the blade, the FM will always feel to have less resistance, as it doesn’t have a “shoulder” from a shinogi line.

Another aspect I was worried about when they announced the sharpener would be different was the spine and choil- for me personally, no other knife has a spine and choil I like more than the Fujiyama. Was this going to make a return?

Yes and no- looking close at the FM choil, you can see similar attempt at grind. Where the Morihiro-Fujiyama meet at the center, the FM is much more abbreviated. Additionally, you can really see the pop of the mirror polish on Morihiro’s. For the spine, you can observe and feel something similar- the geometry is kind of there, just not near as deep and established.

I spoke with people that got the first batch of B2 FMs, and these sentiments seemed to be mirrored amongst them- it was close to the original Fujiyama, but definitely different.

Morihiro Spine


FM Spine


Morihiro Spine 2


FM Spine 2


Morihiro Choil


FM Choil



I sent a few emails to Konosuke and inquired about this- was this intentional? Or was it an oversight? And what I got back was that this style of rounding- on the spine and choil –is very, very difficult.. and that, while the new sharpener was incredibly talented, he couldn’t match Morihiro in this one aspect.

I’ll admit, I was little deflated at this one aspect- at the time, it wasn’t known whether Morihiro was going to come back at all; so I worried this aspect of his design might be lost.

…but then the email continued- while Konosuke is very happy with the FM Fujiyama, they are always striving to get better; and that, with every batch, the FM sharpener is improving.

This seemed to be mirrored anecdotally on the forums- people were asking about grinds after comparing them from different releases. “Are the white 1s different from the B2s?” “Were Tosho’s B1s exactly the same as CK TGs B2s?”

And so.. I decided simply comparing one knife from the FM sharpener was far too little a sample- and boy am I glad I continued.

Here are choil shots of all three of my current FMs side by side. A quick note- the sequence these were released are- B2, BS 270, BS 240. So technically, the middle knife is the most recent, having just received it a week ago.




And damn. The latest blue super 240 blew me away. You can see the slow progression as the rounding in the choil gets closer across those three models. The spine is the same way- the angle ground into the spine are a little more substantial.

But even more impressive is the grind, especially when you consider this: all three of those knives are within 0.01 mm at initial spine measurement above the heel; and they continue to be incredibly close all the way to the tip. The B2 is actually slightly thinner at the spine than the Blue Super- but look at that grind! I am very impressed by the FM sharpener’s progression.


In the future, things may chance a bit- but we should expect nothing less, honestly. All throughout Morihiro’s tenure as the main Fujiyama sharpener, we saw subtle changes across time. And from Morihiro’s thinnest offering, to his thickest- I’ve always enjoyed how they cut. I think I’ll find a similar feeling from the FM sharpener as well.



Conclusions
So, after years of research, and dozens of Fujiyama, I have a few closing feelings.

The biggest one that I kept running in to- that present Fujiyama feel nothing like the old stuff. Maybe there’s a hint of truth to that? Very obviously, things have changed over time. But I don’t think the grinds of 2012 and previous are something mythical and unrepeated.

Honestly, if your preference were the White steel variants from forever ago, the FMs are going to be very, very in line with that. Where Morihiro used to push the boundaries of what Tanaka’s forging was capable of taking, so does the FM sharpener. In talking with Konosuke, about 80% of the knives he’s putting out, he’s stopping at /just/ the point where the edge will start to flex under pressure from your nail. That’s as thin as you can get- and with Tanaka being the blacksmith across all that time, it would be the same point Morihiro could have taken them too.

Some of those early knives are absolute lasers- so if its not just edge thinness, but overall thinness you’re after, than an HD2 or Konosuke’s new FT Fujiyama might be what you’re after.

So if you’re reading this, wondering whether you should bend over backwards trying to get a near 10 year old knife to try and experience what some people claim is the best? You don’t need to. Give one of the current offerings a try- I’m sure you’ll be very happy. And if not, visit your friendly local BST.


…what an expensive and time consuming research journey I went on to come to THAT conclusion.
 

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Random Fujiyama Questions:

-What has the HRC been across time?
To answer this, Tanaka-san was directly questioned. He provided the following numbers, which he states are the same values he has been turning out for over 10 years.

Blue 1, White 1: about 65
Blue 2, White 2: about 64
Blue Super: Higher than 66

As those familiar with numbers might notice, these are quite high- and yet his knives don’t feel brittle, nor are they prone to micro-chipping at the edge. If not forged properly, knives at this hardness would have square cracks and micro cracks near the edge from quenching. Sometimes the edge will collapse entirely. But as the obscene thinness of all these Fujiyama accentuates, this is not an issue for Tanaka.

In previous years, I have seen product reviews and pages stating much lower numbers- in the 62-63 range for the Blue 2, for example. I’m not sure why this was… whether it was a miscommunication from Konosuke, or a misunderstanding by the reviewer. But those numbers are not correct- the numbers above have been the approximate HRCs of all Fujiyama since inception.


-But aren’t wide bevels easier to maintain over time!
I would agree to this point, but only to an extent. Wide bevel knives are easier to maintain properly, but only if you have a decent amount of sharpening experience. If you know what you’re doing, flattening the bevels and keeping the geometry in line might not be a big deal- but if you mess up, you can very easily, and very seriously, mess up your blade.

I’ve seen wide bevel knives that individuals who thought themselves competent took to stones… and the end result was not pretty. A good example of this can be seen in the Blue 1 KU I have listed above- see the asymmetry in that grind? The near 3mm of height missing? That’s from someone that thought they knew what they were doing… and it didn’t end well. Sadly, that’s far from the worst examples I’ve seen.

To this end, the FM Fujiyama might take a little more skill, but they try to mitigate that with other aspects of the forging- having it be extremely thin grind behind the edge; a very hard forging and heat treat from Tanaka; and a solid out of the box edge. By only using a leather strop, and occasionally a person’s prefered finishing stone, a professional end user should be able to go without dropping down to mid or lower grit stone for months. And don’t take my word for it- this came from someone with many years of professional kitchen experience.


-What’s the little box on the stamp side?
The little box stamp is something known as a ‘Kokuin’, a stamp that is meant to be hammered into steel. These stamps are simply stylized kanji that denotes the core steel. If you look closely at the pictures above, each different steel variant has a different kanji.

You may notice, some knives have them, and some don’t. The cause for this variance isn’t entirely known- Kosuke has been known to enjoy tinkering with things across time, and is just one of those examples of subtle variations. Personally, I wouldn’t sweat it.
…though I’ll admit, I really like how they look.


-Speaking of stamps.. what’s up with hand chiseled kanji on some? Where are the stamps now?
In the past, stamps were very common. Every san-mai I have, except for the Ginsan, and the B1 from 2016 have the standard Konosuke stamps on them.

The B2 Honyaki, the White 2 Honyaki, and the B1 from 2016 have hand chiseled kanji. But I think those few B1s were an extreme outlier- I have not seen hand chiseled kanji on past Fujiyama much at all, with one lone exception- the first runs of Togo Reigo. These knives had both stamps and hand chiseled kanji, in addition to a cool little ‘S’ stamp.




Starting in 2018, with the FM Fujiyama, Konosuke started running into a hiccup- in order to maintain grind consistency with the new style they were using, more knives were being ground up by the stamps. You have to remember, these knives come very rough from forging- so each knife has to be evaluated and approached a little differently. Sometimes this mean more work near the spine needed to be done. Sometimes less. But this meant, more than ever before, Fujiyama were coming out with thinner stamps.

As the stamps on Fujiyama are very iconic, this led to individuals being rather vocal about not liking them being thinner at times. This put Konosuke in a tough spot… because the lighter stamps weren’t a product of shoddy workmanship, but rather a sincere attempt to maintain grind consistency from knife to knife- do you sacrifice the performance and grind of the knife in some cases because of aesthetics? With this in mind, they have made a decision to not longer have stamps on their knives, and instead transition completely to hand chiseled kanji.

As of writing this, all Fujiyama going to Tosho Knife Arts and Chef Knives to Go will have only hand chiseled kanji on the FM and FT Fujiyama. Bernal Cutlery and Shirogami knives will still have stamps, but only on their White 2 FTs.

For those the follow Konosuke’s official IG, you may have noticed pictures of the soon-to-be-released Togo Reigo Fujiyama, with both stamps at Kanji. I know for me personally, this is my favorite styling. If you like it to, you should go let them know.

-How is the out-of-the-box edge?
This is an interesting topic as the answer has very recently changed.

For years, Fujiyama came with next to no edge at all. They were very thin because of their geometry, but were left unfinished, as it was customary for the end user to dictate their desired edge. There was some thought that a person buying a knife of this quality should be able to take care of their knife- so coming without an edge should be no problem. Additionally, there was thought that people might want to tailor-make their edge to the job they want.

Cutting lots of meat, or waxy skinned fruit? Then maybe you want a lower grit, toothier edge on your knife.
Making very fine cuts on food that will be plated as prepped? Then maybe you want a very refined, glassy edge.
The company had no way of knowing, so they left this to the end user.

Starting during the rise of the FM Fujiyama, however, this changed- Konosuke now ships every knife with a wicked sharp, natural-stone-finished edge. A demo of said edge can be found on Konosuke’s IG page-

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpD2QMHF_6e/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1te5rekjspvde

I have been able to try three of these edges, and they have all been phenomenal.


-Are Fujiyama Hand-laminated, is Tanaka using pre-laminated steel
Back at the start of Konosuke, Tanaka used to hand laminate All his blades.

But 4-5 years ago, as demand in Sakai started to skyrocket, he moved to pre-laminated steel. According to Tanaka himself, he did not feel there was any decline in quality, and the material that comes pre-laminated is the same material he was using when attaching by hand.

Nowadays, he only hand laminates single bevel, Damascus, and the Vintage Carbon / Togo Reigo blades.


-So the Blue Steel Fujiyama always had Shinogi lines, and the White steel Fujiyama never did… right?
This is GENERALLY the case, but not absolutely true.

In asking Konosuke about this, there was believed to be one small set of White 2 Fujiyama that had shinogi lines / the wide bevel grind.

In general however, this is a safe assumption.


-Wait a minute.. if all this stuff is secret, why are you saying all this?
When I initially started looking for all these answers, indeed, everything was quite secret. A few users would post claiming to know answers, but any vendor that was asked responded that they had to keep their mouth shut about such things.

I had sent a few emails to Kosuke directly some years ago, and I received a similar answer from him- that while he would Like to disclose this information, at that time, it had to remain secret.

This had been a sticking point for Kosuke though- he always wanted to have more transparency for the end-buyer, and wanted the craftsmen involved to receive the credit they deserve. For a long time, these things were left to be uncorroborated… but recently, this all changed.

Sometime around the time that Morihiro stepped away from making Fujiyama full time, Konosuke came out and revealed the identities of the Fujiyama blacksmith as Yoshikazu Tanaka, and the Fujiyama sharpener as Morihiro.

So none of the information in this write up is nearly as impactful as I had hoped it might be when I first started doing my research all that time ago… But that’s all fine, truthfully- without drama, or fear or hurting someone’s reputation or standing, it can be freely said now:
The Fujiyama Blacksmith is, and always has been, Yoshikazu Tanaka.
The Fujiyama sharpener, from the beginning until the FMs, has been Morihiro.


-What about the Honyaki?
Konosuke definitely has a reputation for phenomenal Honyaki- from single bevel, to the Fujiyama-style Blue and White Steel Honyaki, to the White 2 laser style honyaki.

One thing to note about these is that none of them, regardless of steel or profile, are forged by Tanaka. I’ve heard from some people that Tanaka has made Honyaki before.. but never has one been released by Konosuke.

All honyaki released by Konosuke were forged by Kenichi Shiraki, Genkai Masakuni, or Ashi Hamono.
 
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Omega

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Phew…. Did you make it this far? All the way to the end? Then congrats! I hope you found this both enjoyable and entertaining to read.
To those who might wonder, no part of this was commissioned / sponsored / requested by Konosuke, nor was I paid for any of my thoughts. This was a labor of love.
…or… sadistic psychosis…

All information has been as verified as I possibly can make it. If you have any questions, I’ll be lurking and can try to answer them.


One small final point- there are still a few Konosuke knives I’m searching for, if anyone happens to read this and considers parting with theirs:

Konosuke White 2 Honyaki, 240mm wa gyuto
Konosuke White 2 Honyaki, 270mm wa gyuto

Konosuke Togo Reigo 240mm wa gyuto, from the initial Tosho run from 2013-2014. Any handle.

Konosuke Fujiyama 270 White 1 gyuto, ebony handle- CK TG got 3 of these in the summer of 2017. If you have one in good condition and would like to sell, please let me know!
 
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Dylan

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I can appreciate the mass of time you put into this information. Thank you for sharing, both the knowledge and pictures of your collection! I’m sure this will get referenced a lot and it’s very cool to know more about the iconic companies background.

-Dylan
 

tongas

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Hats off to you for getting that deep in history, big interesting write up !
 

Matus

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I very much appreciate you took the time to write all this down. Thank you.
 

Duque

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Somebody please make the same for Dave Martell knives - that would also make fantastic reading
 

Badgertooth

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Spectacular labour of love here Omega and very generous of you to share. Thank you.
 

Luftmensch

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Stellar contribution!

Thank you for the effort you put into recording this information and for your generosity in sharing it! No doubt it will become reference material for Konosuke history.

Kudos
 

Garm

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This was a fascinating read, from beginning to end.
Thank you very much for all the effort and time you've put into this!
 

Xenif

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Wow wow and wow. Thank You Omega. This is one of the .... No ... This is THE BEST article written about Konosuke knives to date.
Although you could've used a catchier title like "Omega to Alpha: A look back at the history, legend, and myth that is Konosuke Fujiyama" [emoji6]
 

Elliot

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I read every single word, completely captivated. Thank you for sharing your labor of love with us.
 

Chicagohawkie

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Interesting interpretation. A good basic introduction for sure, but no mention of the single bevels from the early days throughout to the later days. I would have liked to have heard more about the disappearance of the original white lines in late 2014. When they were reintroduced in late 2015 they were nothing like the original. That was a defining point for me in konos evolution.
 

skiajl6297

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Color me impressed. (With your write up and time and effort.) Thank you for investing in this forum! Great work.
 

YG420

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Awesome write up! Kono fujis are great knives
 
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