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Regional Knife Makers

Japan has a number of knife making regions.  Some of these (like Sakai, Sanjo, and Seki) have become very popular in recent years, and some are still unknown.  Since there is not so much information available in English about these regions and certified craftsmen/craftswomen, Sara is spending a little time every day working on translating some of this work.  We hope you find this information as interesting as we do.  If you have questions, let us know and we'll do our best to answer.  Also, we are working on putting together a map that incorporates this information, so you will be able to see where these places are.

Banshu Miki Uchihamono(播州三木打刃物)
Primary Products: Saw, chisel, plane, knife/pocket knife
History: Towards the end of Azuchi Momoyama period (1573-1598), the Miki Castle was invaded by Hideyoshi  Hashiba and the city of Miki was destroyed.  After the destruction, Hideyoshi began to tax the townsmen in an attempt to reconstruct the city.  The city called in construction workder from various areas to build shrines, temples and houses, which lead to the development of Miki's now reknowned carpenter-tools. 
Qualified Banshu Miki Uchihamono Makers #: 16
Echigo Yoita Uchihamono (越後与板打刃物)
Primary Products: Chisel, plane, broadaxe, adze, engraving knife, short straight-bladed knife, saw
History: The Echigo Yoita Uchihamono traces its roots back to when vassals of Kenshin Ueda invited swordmakers from  Mt. Kasuga to make knives during the Age of [Provincial] Civil Wars.
Qualified Echigo Yoita Uchihamono Makers #: 8
Sakai Uchihamono (堺打刃物)
Primary Products: Kitchen knife
History: Around the mid-16th century, guns and tobaco were introduced to Japan by the Portuguse.  Towards the end of 16th century, Sakai ciy started producing "tobacco knifves" to chop tobacco leaves, and the city  recieved  the "kiwamein (hallmark)" , otherwise known as  excluisive  right from the Tokugawa Shugunate to produce those knives.  Sakai uchihaono's reputation for sharpness and quality spread across Japn.  During the mid-Edo period (Edo: c. 1600-1867), Deba-bocho (knife) started appearing followed by other types of kitchen knifes.
Qualified Sakai Uchihamono Makers #: 28
Shinshu Uchihamono (信州打刃物)
Primary Products: Sickle, kitchen knife, hatchet
History: It is believed that Shinshu uchihamono started when villagers started learning blacksmithing skills from craftman coming in and out of the village to repair armor and swords during the Kawanakajima War of 1553.
Qualified Shinshu Uchihamono Makers #: 5
Tosa Uchihamono (土佐打刃物)
Primary Products: Ax, saw, sickle, ho
Hisotry: There is a document from 1950 stating that, at that time, there were 399 blacksmiths in the Tosa region.  TosaUchihamono began to flourish from 1692, under the Tosa feudal lord (Daimyo) in the first Edo priod.  The Tosa domain had a strong focus on forestry, which increased the demand for forestory knives.  Consequentially, the quality of Tosa uchihamono's knives imporved and the quantity they produced.  Tosa uchihamono resisted adoping modern machinery to a large extent, rather choosing to preserve traditional Edo techniques and traditions.
Qualified Tosa Uchihamono Makers#: 13  
 
 


Reference:

 

Kougei by the Japan Traditional Craft Center.

Jonathan Broida
Jonathan Broida

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