Where/when to buy Japanese knives

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Keith Sinclair

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A Frames my favorite local knife store.

JKI great selection of Japanese chef knives
 

jacko9

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A Frames my favorite local knife store.

JKI great selection of Japanese chef knives
A Frames definitely has a very large selection however uneducated people like me don't know what we are looking at. I mean some knives look great but any name brand that I recognize seems to be out of stock.
 

AFKitchenknivesguy

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A Frames definitely has a very large selection however uneducated people like me don't know what we are looking at. I mean some knives look great but any name brand that I recognize seems to be out of stock.
As someone thats been doing this hobby for awhile and doesn't work in the industry i.e. hospitality, research and actual experimentation is key. Also, not sure why I keep seeing this, but its always been a struggle to get some knives. Not just specific to this hobby either, its true with mine and others hobbies too Timing is everything, not to mention money. That's why I have original Kramers, before they got insane priced and unachievable by most. Don't be afraid to try unheard of knives either if they suit your fancy, it may be the next big thing.
 

jacko9

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As someone thats been doing this hobby for awhile and doesn't work in the industry i.e. hospitality, research and actual experimentation is key. Also, not sure why I keep seeing this, but its always been a struggle to get some knives. Not just specific to this hobby either, its true with mine and others hobbies too Timing is everything, not to mention money. That's why I have original Kramers, before they got insane priced and unachievable by most. Don't be afraid to try unheard of knives either if they suit your fancy, it may be the next big thing.
Actually my first JKnife was a Konosuke HD2 I got from Tosha and then I found my way to T-F. Since that time I have kept exploring from Konosuke Fujiyama, Kato, Watanabe, Mazaki, Toyama and Shigefusa (only a KU Santuko) but I keep looking for a great honyaki but it seems I am too slow to react or I just don't know about who is still making them.
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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I want a vender that has lots of reviews posted of their knives, but it seems like a lot of them only keep the positive interactions. CKTG deleted one of my reviews, and it wasn't that bad. I just said the knife's fit and finish was three stars. I think if you want to give people good feedback on that website, you have to give 4 stars and subtly knock it. Maybe soigne west could say something like "heat treat was exceptional, I just wish it were different for my personal preferences" and we'd all know that was a dog whistle for saying the heat treat was trash.
 

ryanjams

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Bought a few times from cktg, back in the early aughts of my knife addiction. From their copy and the fanbase that populates their forum, you might think everything they sell is an amazing performer with a super thin 50-50 grind. I thought my murata was totally adequate at its price point, and more impressive than the shirogami tojiros and the like. Yamashin was a total dud imo, fine for the Tosa project knife that it is but not living up to the praise they piled on it. Got a Goko petty for my wife, they picked out a nice tall one as I requested and it's actually great. But I've soured on them the more I've learned and been able to engage with vendors who put more care into curating inventory, and honestly addressing the customer.

JKI in particular raised the bar for what I'd expect from a vendor. After an email exchange, Jon made it a point to schedule a phone call to walk me through some refinishing advice, on a knife I didn't buy from him, when I wasn't even buying anything from the shop at that time. That degree of service will make me a lifetime customer, and is among the reasons I will constantly recommend jki, especially to those new to the game who could be easily fleeced by some other vendors' snake-oil approach. A lot of good stuff is often out of stock, but scarcity is a reality with these labor-intensive handmade knives, which must meet a higher standard of qc and often custom spec for, say, JKI while the craftsmen also supplies numerous other vendors/wholesalers/oem production. Mazaki, for example, seems to be everywhere, but can still sell out quickly and vary wildly. Not sure much volume is going out in every batch. I respect that knives like Kochi and Gengetsu have remained reasonably priced, and fairly true to the initial product, ever after long waits for order fulfillment, sometimes changes in the supply chain, and quasi cult status. You can contact Jon directly, and get great advice to guide you to a suitable alternative, match your preferences and needs, maybe even save you money. Why wouldn't I want to share that experience? By no means is JKI the only good shop, just a formative example for me.

Contrast that with cktg selling Hunter Valley Blades knives as "Mert Tansu 52100 Gyuto" and burying the brand name in the specs, when that distinction is clear and intentional from the maker. Seems designed to cash in on Mert's clout and the custom maker trend, and imply value that's not so much there--not unlike their "custom" handle racket--and while the HVB look to be awesome blades, this all goes in line with CKTG's hyperbolic marketing and seeming quantity-over-quality approach.

The shark is jumped re: Kato, Shig, plenty of popular makers. Hype is subjective, but conditionally warranted on a lot of these in-vogue blades. Straying a bit from the Japanese knives topic, Raquin comes to mind; I've tried for many of his knives and just missed out online. Been lucky enough to score a couple on the secondary market, and they're great, worth all the fanfare imo. Will probably always keep one blade or another of his... but his production is very limited, and the product exceptional in my (and many others') opinion, so demand seems right in line. There aren't many places to get his knives, and a simple instagram follow will point you towards all of them, when available. Are we not to talk about the knives we enjoy using, on the kitchen knife forums, for fear someone else might buy them all out?

Even so, Raquin prices haven't skyrocketed in response. It seem a lot of makers are looking at alternatives to meet demand and reduce costs, with midtech lines and the like. Bryan's dipped into SC125 from his exclusive SC145, presumably to ensure he can meet demand and keep producing knives for a long time to come. He's done so transparently and his prices reflect this. Most makers, epecially upstart ones, are probably grossly under-compensated for all the time that goes into even the more 'rustic' blades. This holds true for Japanese craftsmen as well. Besides all the WTBs and alerts and forum buzz on these knives, you can generally find plenty of feedback on their traits, performance, strengths, weaknesses to determine if they're worth pursuing, for you. Manage to score one, try it on, and you might at least have trade bait for something else that's on your list and hard to come by.

If you want the knife, buy it rather than sharing it. But like someone else mentioned, you can find most of these vendors within a page or two of a web search. No point in weird secrecy, as I'd rather help foster the community that made my knife journey so fun, when I could have just bought a Shun or dalstrong if everyone on the forum decided to gatekeep newbies from the "good" knives. I do think it's worthwhile to dig deep on the forums and glean a bit of a foundation through lurking and reading old threads, using the search function. At the same time, "first knife," "what knife should I buy" posts are almost always informative, if sometimes repetitive, often get down to specific user preferences not addressed in the questionnaire itself, and tend to guide towards makers and vendors held in high regard here. I narrowed down my first knife purchases through anecdotes gained, in large part, from those very threads.

Sorry for the essay... I've been reading this thread as it went and have a lot of feelings on the matters discussed.
 

Corradobrit1

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No wonder all good knives are sold out everywhere if we all share the same source . It used to be an art to find the shops and good deals. Call me selfish, but next time you wonder why your favorite knife is sold out remember this.
Short memory much?

And

And you even detailed how to setup an account and bid.
 
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Codered

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Short memory much?

And

And you even detailed how to setup an account and bid.
I'm Bipolar. Just ignore me
 

Keith Sinclair

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CKTG carries the Kotetsu Blue#2 Nashiji Gyuto. 240mm 165.00. 210mm 140.00.

Claims they have these knives made in Japan exclusively for CKTG. Total BS first saw them years ago on Blueway eBay. JCK carries them as Blue Moon series. When found them cheaper at JCK began recom. as a quality bang for the buck blade. At time were 98.00 for 210mm now it is 112.00. Quite a few sent to Hawaii and was pushing it here saw he ran out of 210mm couple times : raised price a little. Liked this & MM Nashiji Tanaka's as best cheap knives. The blue moon is thick spine 4mm at handle thick at top of blade at Nashiji very assem. grind. Not too tall a combination that makes them excellent for peeling pineapples & other fruits and veg. I keep one at home grab it for jobs would not use my Uber thin edge knives for. Students who bought them really liked then don't have to baby these knives. At least CKTG shows beefy grind on these blades. Potatoes no stiction.

MM Nashiji gensan Tanaka's were 120.00 with D ho handle. Found out about MM and Tanaka's from this forum looking for good cheap knives for students. I was so impressed used it as pass around. Told students and teachers to order quick because supply limited. He would run out in a couple days. Later when switched to VG10 still a good knife. We would clean him out. When started with plastic instead of horn on handles & not having inventory for long periods of time stopped following MM.
 

inferno

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CKTG carries the Kotetsu Blue#2 Nashiji Gyuto. 240mm 165.00. 210mm 140.00.

Claims they have these knives made in Japan exclusively for CKTG. Total BS first saw them years ago on Blueway eBay. JCK carries them as Blue Moon series. When found them cheaper at JCK began recom. as a quality bang for the buck blade. At time were 98.00 for 210mm now it is 112.00.
dictum also has the blue moon and calls it something else.
i think the blade is the same as this one here tadafusa knives western handleD
i have seen this exact blade at many places. different names every time.

i had one of the blue moons. it was my first carbon blade. and to be honest its really good imo. as good as it gets. i have had hinouras AS/white2/kurosaki AS, masamoto blue2, its just as good as all of those steels/Ht's
 

Keith Sinclair

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Never seen Western handle with metal bolster the blade & Nashiji look the part.

For the thickness of grind Blue Moon is a capable cutter. It will wedge with carrots but gets the job done. Not for left handers though vary biased right. Will get flack for this call it poor man's Kato.

Was getting 240mm off Blueway, but it was limited availability price depended on handle. Oval was 120.00. CKTG carries two 210 one is thinner behind edge than the other. He also has the 240 same blade as Blueway with upgraded handle Haven't been on Blueway for a while don't know if even still carries them.
 
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