Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [Kitchen Knife] | ページ 2 | カーサ ブルータス Casa BRUTUS

Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [Kitchen Knife]

Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. This trip took her to Tsubame Sanjo in Niigata prefecture, widely regarded as a “handcraft town”, where she came upon handmade kitchen knives in which the spirit of old-world metalsmithing still resides.

The artisan doing the polishing is from Australia. KASHIYUKA explains that “I can feel vitality here, from the young staff, from the women welding…”
Hammer-forging of hot steel.
“We heat the steel to 8 to 900 degrees centigrade and hammer it while it remains at this temperature. The strength and sharpness are born of this forging,” a member of the crew tells us, while we go about the factory to a constant background of the clang and screech of steel being hammered and honed. The highlight, of course, was viewing the process of red-hot steel being formed into the shape of a knife. A well-worn spring hammer is used, its hammering rhythm controlled by a foot pedal, like an old-time sewing machine. The curve is achieved simply by subtle adjustments of the hand. It’s all so analog, and the sequence of movements in this process so cool – I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it!
Mr. Chuichiro Sone, the company’s head, inserts the still-hot blade into a wooden handle. A startling amount of smoke is produced.
A name is carefully etched into a blade.
Tadafusa is actually eager to have people tour their factory, and I’ll agree that anyone witnessing such a powerful working shop is bound to become an instant superfan. “The good knife is the one that cuts well,” is the simple credo of the folks at this factory. Stainless steel, which doesn’t rust, is generally seen as most common among consumers, but Tadafusa continues to pursue what was understood in bygone days as the “true sharpness of steel”. They explained, “you can return even a rusted knife to complete sharpness. Such a knife, one with a lifetime of usefulness, is the ideal.”
This visit I totally fell for the thrill of being present at the act of taking something as tough and dense as steel and forming it by hand, piece by piece, into something like a knife. I decided to purchase a refined butcher’s knife, the surface of which is textured to resemble a pear’s skin, thus, the name Nashi-ji (nashi, meaning pear). This absolute masterwork of sharpness is certain to win many admirers overseas.

Nashiji Western Style Kitchen Knife of Aokami Steel by Tadafusa

Left / Nashiji Western-style Kitchen Knife / Double-edged Butcher’s Knife with bolster – Blade length, 180 mm. Overall length, 320 mm, ¥9,500. Right / Small Knife – 125 mm, ¥8,000 Handle is antibacterial, carbonized wood. TADAFUSA 27-16 Higashi-honjoji, Sanjo-city, 955-0823, Niigata, JAPAN TEL0256 32 2184 9 AM -5 PM. Closed on Sundays and national holidays. http://www.tadafusa.com


Yuka Kashino, known as KASHIYUKA, is a member of the electro-pop group Perfume. Upon completing their Japan arena tour in support of their latest album “Future Pop,” they’ll embark on a world tour, beginning next spring, for shows in North America and Asia. Her favorite architectural work right now is the Teshima Art Museum by Ryue Nishizawa. www.perfume-web.jp