Brand: Hitohira ひ と ひ ら (一片)
Blacksmith: Tanaka 田中 打 刃 物 製作 所
Production area: Sakai-Osaka / Japan
Size: 180 mm
Type of steel: carbon steel
Steel: Yasuki Blue (Aogami) # 1, soft iron coating
Channel: Yakusugi cedar and octagonal buffalo horn
Total length: 313 mm
Length of edge: 164 mm
Length of handle at tip: 182 mm
Blade height: 56 mm
Thick: 2.2 mm
Length of handle: 133 mm
Hand orientation: ambidextrous
Considered one of the best blacksmiths in the region, Yoshikazu Tanaka has been a blacksmith for more than half a century. He now works with his son and an apprentice. He is a traditionalist, but he is always looking to improve his process and his skills. He uses the traditional method of soaking with pine charcoal and then uses straw ash. It’s a very old way of making knives. He does not use a thermometer for soaking, he manually calculates the temperature of the steel by examining its color. Tanaka-san is always looking to improve. It uses a temperature-controlled oven for soaking, which only a few blacksmiths in the area use. He and his team only forge 30 knives a day between the three of them. For reference, some blacksmiths forge up to 100 blades in a single day. The reason he forged only thirty of them is that he takes his time, forging carefully at very low temperatures. At low temperatures, steel does not stretch as fast, but it will retain much better steel granulometry. Stretching the granulometry will make the steel britter, which it strives to avoid. It frequently moves the steel inside and outside the oven to check the color, and then when the whole blade is of a specific shade of color, it soaks the steel in water. The water temple (Mizu) is the most difficult to achieve and requires a very careful handling.
His father Heihachi, is one of Sakai’s busiest sharpeners. Heihachi’s workshop room and hallway were always filled with knives waiting to be sharpened. Although Kyuzo first worked under his father to learn the basics of coarse sharpening, he eventually became a student of Kambei, known as one of Sakai’s best sharpeners because he knew best how to sharpen large double bevel knives. After a few years of training, he developed his style based on these respective masters, 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.