Japanese Version

Azai-san, master knife maker from Takefu

IMG_1440

There were three degrees of separation between myself and a master culinary knife maker, from the Japan Sea city of Takefu.  Despite that, however, we finally met a few years ago.  First, a friend of mine, a Tendai Buddhist priest, introduced me to a German man who had become a master Japanese-style carpenter.  The carpenter, then, introduced me to the remarkable Azai-san,  master maker of culinary knives of extraordinary quality.   Over the years I have been learning about how knives are made.  For instance, by sandwiching a hard steel into a softer steel, the hard metal allows for a very sharp cutting edge, whereas the soft metal adds resilience to the blade as a whole.  Also, where common wooden handles last only a few years when used constantly in a wet professional kitchen, Azai-san makes his finest handles  from extremely hard, red sandalwood (see top knife in photo below), so his knives can last the life of the chef.  Azai-san works in his own workshop, as well as in a fascinating place called Knife Bridge, which is operated by the knife makers guild of Takefu.  Knife Bridge consists of a large, two story room with about a dozen work stations, each with its own fire furnace for working with steel.  High above the working craftsmen is a long runway-like bridge, upon which guests and the general public can walk while looking down, clearly and directly watching the knife making process.

I am not especially skilled with tools, nor do I work with my hands much.  However, I must really thank Azai-san for the pleasureful experience of quality and precision when I prepare food with one of his very special knives.

IMG_1434 - Copy

3 thoughts on “Azai-san, master knife maker from Takefu

  1. Marsha Winborn

    I LOVE these knives!! They are so beautiful…..that lovely texture, and the handles are amazing. Your blog is awesome, Veda san; I am seeing so much here I’d never get the chance to see.

  2. Jim Kempston

    I bought a knife from a knive and kitchen equipment shop some years ago, when I was last in Japan, It was incredibly sharp – almost too sharp – and it kept this edge for some months until I started chopping some frozen soup when the steel edge became brittle and lost small bites from it’s edge. Is this a common occurence, I’ve not heard of it before.
    I notice that all the knifes in your photo have a curved cutting edge, surely a straight edge is more economic in terms of arm movement?