"Old Style" Renewed Review: Komorebi A#2 210mm - Forensics of a Natural Spotlight

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Insufferable Member
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Oct 16, 2019
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For this line from Hatsukokoro we get to know what I’d call the “lineage” of the blade, but neither bladesmith nor sharpener: just that it is Sanjo made and Sakai sharpened.

The first thought I had upon seeing it when it came out there was Mazaki, probably because the (Sakai) finish on the Komorebi somewhat resembles what Mazaki does of a Migaki – just much more crisp and polished obviously. Possibly because the style of the generous Kanji also resembles somewhat that of Mazaki – the latter being, obviously, even more expansive. :p


When I acquired it last November and held it in hand for the first time, the impression was somehow reinforced by the continuous, crazy taper and extra length of the edge and parts of the specs that correlated well with that.


I must also pay heed to @tostadas review of the same line a while ago: he went after the Komorebi hoping for some Yoshikane-ish laser feel without the dead flat spot, and coupled to a much taller blade... IIRC. An interesting comparison (I’m not saying Tostadas compared them so closely, even less that he was concerned with identification, because he sure didn’t) to make because just an equal part of specs correlates with the Komorebi there as well, and so does thinness and cutting performance indeed.


BTW... thinness BTE is not necessarily going hand in hand with expertise. The Mazaki choils below are more than a year apart (Winter 2020 – Spring 2021 batches, as available through Canadian shops), of different finishes and types, and each at one end of the New Maz KS-like profile (Gyutos) that happened in between, none of them SO thin BTE...

Yet you can see pretty exacting consistence throughout geometry of a thicker, wider Nakiri to a leaner, shallower Gyuto. Particular enough it can't even be exportable into streamlined production... close enough worlds apart to challenge the very basics of handmade consistency.


Anyways, just a personal train of thought, with no more wisdom than that of anyone curious that didn’t find a definitive answer on KKF or elsewhere and is not precisely aware of how “business” gets done in Japanese knifemaking, nor has access to any kind of insider info. I’m still leaving a triple specs grid below because... well I have some data of what I just discussed in just the same format and length, so why not?

Hatsukokoro Komorebi
Naoki Mazaki (Sold)
Yoshikane (Sold)
Gyuto 210mm
Gyuto 210mm
Gyuto 210mm
Aogami #2 Iron Clad
Shiro #2 Iron Clad
SKD-12 Stainless Clad
Hand Polish
219g / 0
157g / +20
140g / +25
Ebony/Buffalo Horn
(4.2mm out of handle)
(5.3mm out of handle)
(4.1mm out of handle)
35mm TO TIP​
10mm TO TIP​
@ 23-26 (Shinogi) - 10/5/1mm​
@ 19-25 (Shinogi)...
No Shinogi Meas.
HEEL + 10mm​
2.7 / 0.8 / 0.6 / < 0.1​
1.8 / 1.1 / 0.6 / 0.1
1.1 / 0.5 / < 0.1
1.9 / 0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1​
1.7 / 1.1 / 0.6 / < 0.1
0.9 / 0.5 / < 0.1
35mm TO TIP​
1.6 / 0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1​
1.7 / 1 / 0.5 / < 0.1
0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1
-- / 0.7 / 0.4 / < 0.1​
-- / 0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1
0.7 / 0.4 / < 0.1

This review won’t focus any longer to any kind of definitive comparison (please do remark I’ve not even tried my hand at guessing at the Sakai counterpart of this equation, since I’ve been there recently with the Asagiri already) , only on the Komorebi itself, because I believe it’s a truly amazing, quite unique knife that’s best and most harmoniously described by its rather peculiar lineage, and nothing more.

But of that lineage I have a few comparisons to make still, just not towards guessing the bladesmith or sharpener.

The name of the series, if I gathered the idea correctly, loosely translates into that mesmerizing lighting effect sunrays can circumstantially summon when filtered through branches and leaves, as captured by the fortuned beholder’s gaze. From such an instantly poetic, rather personal yet universally recognizable image the term is meant to convey (I think), I propose a much shorter, flatter translation for the actual knife: natural spotlight. It suits it pretty well if you ask me, and perhaps really there’s not nearly as much poetry beyond that to the original term, I wouldn’t know... but even the poetry suits that knife also rather well in it’s collective-ready simplicity.

So there’s a good reason why I decided to turn old school score reviewing medieval on its ass – or why I elected it, my least favorite knife almost mature for BST by the end of March, into the 1KA (2023) challenge. The terms of my scoring have changed and will be shortly revisited at the end of the review, and I’ve found “cooler labeling” for each category scored for fun, but the criterions discussed are essentially the same.

Let’s get this old/new wheel of mine spinning alright.
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Handle ... Fit


The handle itself is no problem. It’s basically the best Ebony I ever got - with flying colors and fitted neatly and very satisfying in hand. But like most Ebony, it leaves something to be desired with forwardness: ideally, I’d want it to stay exactly how it is but weigh like 20 grams less.

As it turns out however we have a neutral balance here, and it’s nothing so bad really... Like always, I wholly appreciate a full machi over anything else, and here the machi gap might be the thing that just saves the unit from a slight backwards balance, and I’ve always enjoyed machi gaps as well, so all in all I can’t be disappointed especially where such a blade is still not devoid in feel of its natural forwardness. I just strongly feel that neutralizing it in hand is not for the best.


Choil and spine are fitted for comfort righteously, with that more alike Sakai-than-Sanjo super smooth and polished gusto. However, here we also have the more alike Sanjo-than-Sakai extra meat to it, and that doesn’t go without making it pretty cool, yet the resulting feel is really more Sanjo than anything else, although I guess the neutral balance would be an occurrence more frequently encountered from Sakai.

1.5 /2 +0.5


Finish ... Maintenance


The Sakai “paw” is unmistakeable with this Migaki –oups, “Hand Polish” – on a wide bevel. I think crisp and clean are terms that reflects well on most of general Sakai offerings, and there’s nothing here to readily contradict such description.

However the real Shinogi is cheated a bit to keep up with reflected consistency, especially past mid-blade. And it’s a rather plain finish that’s very easy to achieve – basically, it’s polish 101. I mean, they called for such nagging with either the “Hand Polish” or “Natural Stone Kasumi” claims, depending where you’re looking at: I can assure you that “Hand Polish” is nothing romantic in this case, and that the bevel are neither Kasumi, neither requiring a Natural stone to achieve. It’s in essence a blended Migaki with a contrast. In case of doubt, I elected what I think is a fair example:


Konosuke HD2, from left to right: full kasumi 1st trial (quite imperfect), etched; bevels taped off and faces slightly polished further before untaping and blending with a light final course of the same grit used last on the face on the whole thing, with a dab of oil; confirming identity of the knife and showing I did not equalize perfectly the level of blend on both sides. I mean I’m not saying I’m better than “those guys” or anyone, and there are thousand variations you can do around that, and there’s no necessity to a full kasumi at all to achieve it, and if crisper and cleaner is what you want it’s straightforward enough to get to a finish like the Komorebi. It’s in fact much less work than I put into the HD2 above, and I think I could more righteously call the result “Kasumi”.

The point being: in Sanjo, blending is the way to do a Migaki, no matter the level of contrasting of the bevels to the faces (say IME Wakui vs Kaji-Bei) or the level of polish (say IME Mazaki vs Toyama – sometimes pegged Kasumi ) or anything in between – where indeed Mazaki offers a middle ground of contrasting and polish that I was strongly reminded of when looking at the Komorebi despite the Sakai crisp to the latter that blows the former into the water.


Combined with the rather squat-looking rounding of the spine - which probably just is a corollary to a thicker blade - as we often see it in Sanjo, it’s not like the bladesmith is being erased by the sharpener (so to speak) with the Komorebi: there’s a balance of Sakai cleanliness to Sanjo rawness here, and once again the encounter is splendid.


OOTB the finish is slightly sticky, for the most part alleviated when a patina starts to get a good hold. Speaking of patina, coupled with the fair level of polish, this one’s patina is something to behold alright: so very stable and so damn spectacular as it goes. Admittedly, I etched it from the onset with vinegar to make the clad line pop and tame reactivity (in order of importance to me), but that is no different than I ever did with most other iron clads, so the grounds are fair.


Sharpening the blade is readily satisfying, and I’d suspect it to be on the higher side of general hardness with A#2: absolutely crisp is the word once again. And whatever the bevel maintenance work to be carried long-term, it should prove very straightforward to “101 refinish” the blade closely enough to OOTB – or just go totally wild transforming it as well – going into a real Kasumi being one idea.

2 /2 +0.5
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Insufferable Member
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... Performance ...

So to wrap the above: despite minor quibbles about the balance and the fact that the finish is nothing to be impressed about, the quality and qualities of this knife are outstanding. As of old, the performance is of course the making or breaking of anything rather good or bad or just plain ordinary in the categories above.


One “montage” of the choil shot shall then at least take the Komorebi quite beyond “ordinary” performance... and while it doesn’t mean anything per say, it’s no least than as jaw-dropping as it looks in this case: superb food separation couples with quite good food release generally, and almost ubiquitous tolerance against wedging in taller, denser produces. But it’s tough and feels like it, and it’s a chunk of a blade as well and also feels like it, to great effect.

Then add this bit: almost 220mm long and an easy 53mm wide? That goes a fair radical deal into more generous specs than you’d usually expect from any blade Sakai or Sanjo – even the fairly cool ones regarding this matter – of the 210mm category. So I’m pretty confident in declaring that these Komorebi are just awesome, something everyone should get to try for themselves, for I’m guessing that for those it’ll stick with, it will be one of a kind that’s not quite readily replicable on the J-market – except by themselves, since admittedly these ain’t difficult to get as of now.


Best I can do really is shut the hell up and post the remaining pictures to making this point.


2 /2

/6 +1

A knife is a whole to a fit... never something that can be decorticated easily, thus never so neatly scored as I once did. My new formula tries to account for that in using a rather weird scoring system and total divider, where:

- there’s room for in-between stuff (...) to raise the score of the two first categories (0.5), but identified criterions can only total 1 point each there and will be severely judged, and I will never go the lengths of differencing where in-betweens come into play, or the nature of it, because it’s just too damn subjective, but their presence will transpire into the Combined Score;

- Performance is encompassed by all other criterions/any in-between but its scoring will be isolated from their positive/negative where they affect it; I feel it’s a criterion that has no place for in between stuff, but does offer a lot of room for subjectivity and subtleties still, so is worth twice each other criterion, or all eventual in-betweens, and will be just as severely judged;

- 7 is the magical... wonders... lucky... number. A knife so pleasing to someone is more than the sum of its parts. Yet it could be argued that the new formula is essentially a divider of 6 with possible extras, which makes even a 5 excellent, and a 6 as fair to a perfect score as pragmatically conceivable.

This little legend will accompany any such review from now on, because really, how more ****ed up can I get things further expecting you’ll remember the **** I considered into it?
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The Komorebi is just the perfect introduction to the renewed scoring system. You could argue I built the latter around it, since I did (starting about mid-April, and scratching off a lot of it already written down by then), and for good reasons: the Komorebi is not the first time I encounter a close to perfect unit I want to sell back so quickly. Yet, it is so close to perfection, and I do really like it – so how could that contradiction be reflected in a scoring review?

Usually I’d use price/value to levy things up/down a bit, but again this knife was calling for something more: in between some vendors pushing it up the price ladder, me getting a pretty good deal on one last BF, chance of scoring even better on BST, and @jedy617 giving one away... nominal value for this one at least is not something that’s readily obvious atm.


But even if it was, there was always something wrong with using value, since it will always be a matter of perspective more than a matter of first hand assessing. Maths can’t lie, but where money is concerned, calculations tend to be get mixed with feelings, distorting the end result.

So instead I’ll avoid any value commentary, but the new scoring system makes up for it in a more logical manner with personal leeway: getting a 5 is excellent, getting a 6 is close to perfection already, and I don’t see much knives getting a full 7, but it’s out there as a possibility as well as an ideal difficult to meet. On the other hand, cheaper units that won’t raise such a good score, when I really like them, there’s a fair chance it is because there is at least an extra 0.5, possibly a full point, into in-between stuff – and/or because they cut like crazy, so they’ll get that little level up.

The way to write the Combined Score is a reminder that there are two ways to consider the score: pragmatic (out of 6) or ideal (out of 7). There the transparence of the in-betweens is yet another reminder: it is most entirely subjective. Unless you consider the base score (without in-between) out of 7: there, I think you can be dead certain that the knife will at least reflect some objective qualities equal to it into anyone’s hand, no matter their perspective on value, or even the type/length of blade for that matter. There a point where a good knife deserves respect, and the bared score against the ideal stance is bound to yield at least that much respect.


In the meanwhile, the 1KA challenge rekindled my interest into the Komorebi – it got me through without a sharpening, outstanding services rendered. Of course it’s not supersteel, but I’m a home cook on a loose schedule, and I admitted for a bit more ordinary cutting than I usually accept – that tip got that drag in the end, if you ask March-me, but May-me thinks I could probably use it once or twice more before remedying to the situation.

It’s a good thing that I’ve acquired patience with these things. I might have missed this one, like two years ago, when I would have sold it one month into it, flat-scoring review done and no questions asked. Then again, I might have not. I really just don’t know... but this knife, I’m sure, is one of the best I’ve owned.
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