Yesterday we went to our first knife maker meeting in Tokyo. There aren’t a huge number a knife makers in this city… lots of stores, but not so many makers. While we were researching knife makers before our trip, we stumbled upon this guy. His knives seemed unique and had great personality. We were truly in for a treat meeting with him.
His store/workshop was about a 45 minute train ride from Tokyo center. Walking around the area near his shop really felt like Japan to me. If his shop doesn’t look like it belongs in japan, I don’t know what does.
After a quick greeting and a short chat, he invited us into his workshop. We began to talk about his knife-making philosophy, methods, and some crucial decisions he has made that set him apart from other makers. He’s 83 years old and has been making knives since before the end of WWII (he started knife making with his father when he was 13). As it turns out, he also built almost every machine he has in his workshop.
One of his biggest points of pride is that he does everything by himself… making the knife, the handle, the saya. He even boasts that he was able to swing a 13.5kg hammer himself by hand, while moving the steel with his other hand.
An interesting thing about his knives (and knife making philosophy for that matter) is that his knives are made out of a high speed tool steel. He says he chose it because it offers better edge retention, toughness, and rust resistance without too much sacrifice in the actual edge taking ability. I wasn’t so sure about that until I easily shaved my arm with a small hatchet he had sitting around ;)
He’s got a lot of knives sitting around… and some of them are HUGE… I’m talking like 450mm Yanagiba huge!!! He even took one out to demonstrate his sharpening with.
Jin knives are primarily single bevel knives… and of that, mostly yanagiba. He’s not making so much anymore, but what he’s got around is amazing. And he’s a super nice guy to boot. You can expect to see some of his knives pop up on the website as soon as I have a chance to take some pictures ;)
I just want to say the following for the record, because it speaks to his 70+ years of experience as a knife maker. He uses oil stones to sharpen… really cheap ones, lubricated with extra virgin olive oil. With those stones, he is able to get as good, if not better edges that I can get with a normal progression of synthetic water stones. Shows how much skill is a part of the sharpening.
We ended the day with a beer… one of my favorites - Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale.
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