Brand: Hitohira ひ と ひ ら (一片)
Blacksmith: Kikuchiyo 菊 千代
Production area: Sakai-Osaka / Japan
Size: 210 mm
Type of steel: stainless steel
Steel: Yasuki Silver # 3 (Ginsan), soft stainless steel coating
Handle: Ebony and octagonal buffalo horn
Total length: 352 mm
Length of edge: 198 mm
Length of handle at tip: 211 mm
Blade height: 44 mm
Thickness: 2 mm
Length of handle: 138 mm
Hand orientation: ambidextrous
In the early 2000s, Kikuchiyo was invited by Sakai’s master craftsman to join them as a blacksmith. The art of forging is physical, the harsh work environment of fire and iron weighs heavily on the body and many of the masters’ abilities begin to fade in their forties and fifties. As Kikuchiyo began earlier in life, he acquired most of the knowledge and skills of fine forging and tempering, before his physical abilities deteriorated.
Kikuchiyo has proactively experimented with new steels that are not usually used by the Sakai blacksmith, steels like stainless steel. His experience and skills have made his Ginsan knives (Silver 3) popular among Japanese chefs, with many saying, “If you use Kikuchiyo’s Ginsan once, you’ll never replace him.” Kikuchiyo is also known for its fine Honyaki dip, its beautiful Hamon and hardness only achievable by experienced masters who reach the right temperature. His Honyaki is supported by many Sakai sharpeners and finishers, professionals who know what makes a good kitchen knife. When Kikuchiyo became a blacksmith, he dreamed of succeeding and becoming a great man. He continues to develop his skills as a craftsman, modeling each of his knives on the image of his master’s forge.
Kyuzo’s father, Heihachi, is one of Sakai’s busiest sharpeners. Heihachi’s workshop room and hallway were always filled with knives ready to be sharpened. Although Kyuzo first worked with his father to learn the basics of coarse sharpening, he eventually became a pupil of Kambei, considered one of Sakai’s best sharpeners, because he knew how to sharpen large double-bevel knives. After a few years of training, he built his style on the basis of the respective styles of his father and Kambei. Today, Kyuzo is one of the few people who can sharpen a wide double bevel with a very good Shinogi line in Sakai, one of the most difficult sharpening techniques.