Mitsuaki Takada

 

In July 2002, he decided to leave the music industry with one thing in his mind – he wanted a job that he could put his blood and sweat into.  He moved into Sakai to work for a company that made large steel hooks (for cranes, trucks, etc.).  This type of forging (型打ち鍛造) uses upper and lower air hammers with cast dies, hammering the red hot steel into shape (like in the video below).  

Forging Video


He worked with an air hammer every day while at this company, and through dangerous and extremely hot, he leaned how interesting it is to forge and work with steel. Eventually, he became interested in kitchen knives and other knives, more relevant to daily life than hooks for industrial use. 

He had sometimes sharpened kitchen knives, but back then it was truly his first attempt to make his own knife.  He started reading all sorts of information about knife making online and in knife magazines. Slowly, the making process started during his breaks and day offs.  He still vividly remembers how exciting it was to finish his first knife. 

Once learned the joy of making knives, he next project was a nakiri.  Later, his insatiable curiosity lead him to “shichirin tanzo (forging with a small portable stove normally used for cooking with charcoal” and “furoba kobo (bathroom workshop).”

“Shichirin tanzo” literally means using a shichirin to heat steel, forging with a hand hammer, and then conducting yakiire and yakimodoshi (the heat treatment process).  He used a hair drier to push hot air into shichirin, helping to heat it up – it easily raised the temperature to 700 Celsius, but it was very difficult to adjust or control the temperature.  Sometimes he overheated the steel, and once, he broke a shichirin by overheating it. 

He had been using his in-laws’ garage for forging, since he lived in a small apartment building at the time.  Drilling and grinding were done in his bathroom workshop, where it was easier to clean up all of the steel and dust. 

He had been experimenting and enjoyed being a “weekend knife maker,” but in July 2004, the company he was working for closed down and he was laid off.  With his ever-growing joy and interest in knife making, he decided to talk to knife makers in search of a job.  He thought it would be difficult since it is a common knowledge that the knife business is a family business, inherited from father to son, and so on.  Fortunately, he came across Ashi Hamono just as the company was hiring.  He was welcomed into Ashi Hamono where a new phase of his knife making started. 

 

 

It goes without saying that his knife making skills have greatly improved at Ashi Hamono, where all sorts of equipment available and where he is surrounded by talented and knowledgeable people.  He spends every day practicing his knife making, and continues to gain specialized knowledge and skills.  He feels very lucky to be able to make a living doing what he loves.

 

 

Takada-san lives in Sakai with his lovely wife and three kids.

 

Here are some fun paperknife photos:

 

 

 

 

 

(All of the photos except the first one were shot by Takada-san... he's a pretty talanted photographer in addition to being a great knifemaker)