Who is the greatest Japanese blacksmith of our time still producing knives.

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Henry, Jan 12, 2020.

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  1. Jan 13, 2020 #31

    Kristoffer

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    What an interesting thread! I had no idea Mazaki made all these knives. Watanabe and Toyama and Wakui, sure, but Shig and Hinoura and TF too? ;););)
     
  2. Jan 14, 2020 #32

    ynot1985

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    I know a guy called Lee Masakuni
     
  3. Jan 14, 2020 #33

    Gregmega

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    While I agree mostly with Khashy’s sentiment- I gotta say Tsukasa Hinoura is number one. Finishes are off the charts perfect, he’s probably the most dramatic as innovation goes (his science inclusion testing et al)and his knives have that ‘je ne c’est quoi’ that very few makers have, not to mention his treatment of white is only rivaled by Maz.
     
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  4. Jan 14, 2020 #34

    lemeneid

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    I see what you did there ;)
     
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  5. Jan 14, 2020 #35

    M1k3

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    Kippington. Fish hook grind.
     
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  6. Jan 14, 2020 #36

    bahamaroot

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    The same smiths you see talked about here everyday of the week. And some of the best apprentices, grinders/sharpeners are what give most of these smiths their great names and don't get enough credit.
     
  7. Jan 14, 2020 #37

    osakajoe

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    Two BIG thumbs up for this!
     
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  8. Jan 15, 2020 #38

    brooksie967

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  9. Jan 15, 2020 #39

    Corradobrit1

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    well duh:rolleyes:
     
  10. Jan 15, 2020 #40

    Henry

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    I agree. Many hands go into the creation of most of these amazing blades.

    However, cultures that have been dominated by confucian values don't see individuals as we do in the West. They see themselves as part of their master's work. Their work as an an apprentice is not their own as we would see. It is the result of the teaching and the opportunity given to them by their master. Thus the work belongs to their master. Praise for their master is the same as praise for themselves as there is no clear line of the individual in these cultures. Some psychologist from these cultures have gone as far to say that the individual as we know it in the west do not exist psychologically in these confucian cultures. Rather, individuals gain their identity through their relationships with others. Often those relationship are not equal in the present sense but balance out overall in their lifetime. Thus, it is expected the apprentice do not take individual credit for their work. Their work belongs to their master and their master's work belong to them; Though, not in an equal manner. The balance comes when the apprentice finally becomes the master. So when we speak of the work of Japanese master, it includes the work of their apprentices. I would make the case that the apprentices in Japanese would agree.
     
  11. Jan 15, 2020 #41

    Midsummer

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    I enjoyed that. We should ask @osakajoe since he is an apprentice in a Japanese shop. Maybe the new generation has been westernized in their concept of the individual, or perhaps the working culture has maintained much of its former characteristics. I would be most interested in hearing his opinion (if he would be so kind).

    I was taught to see work in the way you described Henry. I was taught the work was the Masters. That does not disallow me from appreciating my contribution to the whole.
     
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  12. Jan 15, 2020 #42

    Henry

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    Well said.
     
  13. Jan 15, 2020 #43

    Brontes

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    I think in your naivete you are lumping Japanese knife making into one culture, when in fact the knife making culture is different from one region to the next. In some regions, work is done in house in as you say a Master/apprentice relationship. In other regions, Sakai being the most common example, there are Master Smiths, Master Grinder/Sharpeners, even Master Handle makers(I may have made that last one up. Many people have tried to convey to you, that you do not essentially see the work of the smith. In the case of those wonderful knives from Sakai: Konosuke, Doi, Shirakai, Ikeda, etc, what you see, is the work and craftsmanship of the Master Grinder/sharpener. It is these individuals that are largely unsung even on the page of KKF.
     
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  14. Jan 15, 2020 #44

    Henry

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    I am naive because I don't know as much. Perhaps in retrospect I should have asked the question something like, "What line of knives could be shortlisted as a great blade?" Perhaps it is not the individual blacksmith but the blade his name is on which includes all the hands that has contributed to its greatness but not acknowledged.
     
  15. Jan 15, 2020 #45

    osakajoe

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    Brontes said it best.

    I am not commenting on an apprentice. An apprentice is an apprentice under his teacher.

    But when most people name a Japanese blade smith they do not realize that the finish product includes other master class individuals. They will their forged their blanks and send them out to grinders, because they are masters at forging not grinding.

    Plus romanticizing Japanese everyday life in Confucius and other religious ways is a bit over the top. The themes are there just people don’t dwell on it and think that way. It’s just been instilled into the culture over hundreds of years.

    Working is more of a Kohei/Sempai/Teacher relationship most of the time. But I’m different as I come from the outside and am given leeway on certain things like knowing a specific formal word.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  16. Jan 15, 2020 #46

    bahamaroot

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    Most of the grinders/sharpeners were not apprentices of or taught by the smith yet it is the smith that is considered the master. He enjoys the name recognition when the grinders have as much to do with the knife's performance/success as the smith.

    I see smiths like Takeda and Yu Kurosaki traveling the world like rock stars when they have only a fraction to do with the knives sold under their names.
     
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  17. Jan 15, 2020 #47

    Corradobrit1

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    No one has mentioned Jiro:rolleyes:
     
  18. Jan 16, 2020 #48

    Henry

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    I can appreciate what you are saying however, I do not think I romanticize Confucian values in everyday life in Japan. In fact if anything it the opposite. I was born into a into a Confucian culture and lived it my whole life with one foot and in and the other foot out. Most of my life I have criticized and attempted to escape the problems I saw in Confucian values, though at the time I did not know it was Confucian. I am not an expert, however I have studied it modestly and teach it to a small degree. And from what I have learned, those people who live in these cultures and study it as their profession would say it has a great impact on the everyday daily life. There are hundred if not thousand of peer reviewed articles from the people who live in these cultures that would attest to this. I have not read them all but in the dozen or so I have read (each cited scores of other works) along with a handful of books, my impressions were that there really is no debate if Confucianism plays a significant role is the daily of of people who live in these cultures. As this is no longer a religion and has little to no institutional presence, most people may not be aware how much they are influenced by these values or even recognize what it is. It is embedded in their language and in how they see the world. People may not dwell on these themes and think about it but it does effect how they see the world. In the same way people in the West do not think about how humanistic values shaped in classical Greece and rediscovered during the Renaissance in their everyday lives. However, they would see the world differently today without these influences. Though I do not profess to have the esoteric knowledge of the culture of blacksmithing in Japan, I believe that all aspects of everyday life in Japan to some degree (if not a alot) is impacted by Confucianism... I will stop this at this point as this is probably another tread on another forum. I respect your opinion and we can agree to disagree when it comes to this point. I do respect your thoughts as clearly you have more knowledge and experience in the knife world than I. My attempt in this tread was to learn.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  19. Jan 16, 2020 #49

    J.C

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    so do you expect Gordon Ramsay to cook and serve the food himself when you visit his restaurant?
    I don’t think that’s how it works bro.
    In fact that they own (large percentage of) the business, they have the right to claim the fame.
    Same goes with restaurant business, we all (sous,cdp,commis,line,cook) fight hard everyday but only the executive chef or owner gets the recognition, they didn’t even cook.
     
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  20. Jan 16, 2020 #50

    bahamaroot

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    Which is exactly what makes the question of this thread moot.
     
  21. Jan 17, 2020 #51

    Badgertooth

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    Jiro Dreams of Making Regular Sized Handles
     
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  22. Jan 17, 2020 #52

    bahamaroot

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    Jiro dreams of making a knife worth $800
     
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  23. Jan 17, 2020 #53

    LucasFur

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    I think the best forger would be the one that delivers the best Heat treat.
    Some steps that i know nothing about ....
    1. Forgeing - not over heating blade / forging out the impurities / not allowing over oxidation at the high heats
    2. normalize - doing a good job of this
    3. Cold forge properly
    4. quench - doing this to a level that produces a high edge retention
    5. Temper - making sure that it retains its sturucture
    -- probably a whole list more that makes the knife steel perform a certain way.

    so somebody that does the most with the steel to give it sharpen ability/ edge holding / toughness is a GOOD FORGER. Grinder is something else.

    I would say Yoshikazu Tanaka - Heat treats to what i would prefer for carbon steels. ... didn't know he did many stainless ... Lemeneid?
    and TF ... yea still a big fan.

    Ashi HT's in such a way that gives more toughness than i really need for almost all of his stuff.

    I had a Kato with a **** HT once ... not saying any of yours will ... also not sure if ya'll use them enough to know if your HT is on point.
    But Y.Tanaka might have better Quality control on the HT. -- And i think Takeda just has everything pre-set rather then doing it "by-eye" ... but i have no idea.

     
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  24. Jan 18, 2020 #54

    Chuckles

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    +1
     
  25. Jan 18, 2020 #55

    lemeneid

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    I've heard different things from different people. My Kato has really nice HT, but I've heard of others with really chippy blades, similarly, everyone says Toyanabe has one of the best HT for Blue#2 but mine is chippy as hell.

    As far as TF goes, they really have it spot on for the steels they use. Nice and sharp, easy to sharpen, good edge retention and really stable edges that are stupidly thin and don't chip.
     
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  26. Jan 18, 2020 #56

    herrdoktor1034

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    Ichiro Hattori, of Cowry-x steel.
     
  27. Jan 18, 2020 #57

    Codered

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    Stop misleading people with this Teruyasu Fujiwara fan club thread. You have no problems with your TF knives because you hand picked them from Japan and out of many. Some of you bought the Morihei versions which are again selected and resharpened to be decent. But you know very well that he is not making knives that you can order from vendors and expect to get the good stuff. Here is the testimonal of someone who bought the TF advertisement here on KKF. Try to tell him that TF is the greatest japanese smith alive.

    "My knife shown many problem, i tried to ask the famous local Sharpener in New Zealand but even toishigram told me he was unable to fix it.

    I've been sending email & website contact him but still didn't get any reply yet, if i didn't get satisfy answer i won't purchase any TF in my life anymore, I receive the knife less than a month & using less than 10 time, I look after every knife i got, only use warm water to clean, not suppose to bent like this fast, i own yoshihiro, jck carbonext, takamura R2 for several years but didn't happen anything like this. Only yoshihiro have grinding unbalance problem.

    I'm so frustrated right now.."
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  28. Jan 18, 2020 #58

    Codered

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    The best smith in japan is Tsukasa Hinoura. Every knife you buy from him is perfect. You can pick one blindfolded and it will be flawless. He has the perfect heat treatment, the perfect fit and finish with premium handles and the best looking knives. He does not mass produce and he puts soul in every knife he makes. His son Mutsumi will follow him in the trade as he is already a very good smith.
     
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  29. Jan 18, 2020 #59

    Midsummer

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    Mutsumi makes a fine knife.
     
  30. Jan 18, 2020 #60

    wind88

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    I certainly didn’t hand pick any of mine and have no issues. However, the only one that I have from a vendor is less ideal than all the ones ordered direct.
     

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