Japan is a land of tradition, where knowledge and experience have been passed on from master to apprentice, from teacher to student, for hundreds of years. Knife-making is a proud part of the Asian country's heritage, linked to historical rituals and weapons once wielded by samurai. Knives have a special meaning behind which lies the unique history of the development of Japanese knives.

'Japanese swords' were first produced in Japan in the early Heian period, shaped like a miniature Japanese sword worn by a samurai. The samurai sword was considered to be an extension of the warrior's soul. The same could be said today of the chef's knife, because it is the most personal of all the tools in the kitchen.

The samurai sword is part of a tradition that dates back more than 1200 years, when the country was ruled by the Shogunate, a warlord, and samurai soldiers enforced the law. When the Shogunate lost power in 1868, the samurai class also began to decline. With the end of the samurai era, swords receded from Japanese life. The demand for swords began to decline and manufacturers turned their blade-making skills to knife-making. In the late 16th century, knives began to be made using the same methods as the famous Japanese swords.

The art of blade-making has long been popular in Japan. Blacksmiths working for members of Japan's noble military class (the Samurai) competed to create the finest swords and knives. The blacksmiths who made Samurai weapons eventually transferred their skills to the creation of meticulously crafted, hand-forged knives.

Portuguese traders played an important role, bringing a variety of products to Japan, including tobacco. As tobacco grew in popularity, Japanese farmers began to grow their own crops. This led to an increased demand for good knives that could be used to cut the fresh leaves and finely slice the dried product. More and more knife manufacturers specialised in making very sharp knives, which over time further enhanced the fame and prestige of Japanese knife-making.

Demand for quality knives for cutting tobacco has increased sharply. The first tobacco knives were made in Sakai and were soon recognised in Japan for their unique sharpness. Seki is considered the home of modern Japanese steel.

As different regional cuisines began to develop in Japan, traders from different regions began to learn the craft. In the East, where more rustic cooking styles reigned, strong and functional flat blades were predominant; in the West, more delicate, pointed styles were favoured. Their knives have become world-famous and are considered among the finest knives.

Japanese chefs believe that when we start using knives, our soul goes into them. According to Masaharu Morimoto, former head chef of the famous Nobu restaurant, this mentality can still be felt today in the modern Japanese chef's spirit.


Spice up your cooking adventures with a Japanese knife!