Brand: Hitohira ひひ片
Blacksmith: Kikuchiyo 菊代
Type of steel: Carbon (Oxydable)
Steel: Honyaki Yasuki (Shirogami) #3
Channel: Ebony wood and Amber Buffalo Horn
Blade length: 240mm
Sleeve maker: Taihei 太
This item includes the custom made Saya for this knife.
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.
Most Japanese knives are made like a ‘sandwich’, a very hard steel core covered on each side by softer steel. Hard steel is what makes a Japanese knife sharper and keeps its edge longer than other knives. Soft steel acts as a shock absorber to protect harder steel from damage. This is the common way to make a knife in Japan, but there is an older and more romantic way to make a knife, honyaki.
Less than 1% of knives in Japan are forged honyaki. Making a honyaki knife is like making a katana. The knife is made from a single piece of steel and thermally treated so that the edge is very hard and sharp for a very long time. The spine of the knife, although the same piece of steel, is softer and protects the blade from breaking.
You can refer to the article “steel” to learn a little more about this type of knife, Honyaki.