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Thread: Seki Japan Knife and sword makers. Where does the steel come from?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Scio, Oregon. USA.
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    14

    Seki Japan Knife and sword makers. Where does the steel come from?

    Hello, I searched for a while through the archives and couldn't find much on this topic, but please excuse me if others have already discussed this.

    I am heading to Japan in May and am making a special trip to Seki just to see what all is going on; visit some shops and all. I want to find a knife maker, make arrangements for a custom knife ahead of time, and pick it up in person while I'm there (no kitchen knives). I would also like to stop into a few sword shops, I found one at Higotora.com but have no idea what the site says, and look around if I can.

    I would greatly welcome any advise on this trip, but most specifically:

    -Which knife / sword makers in Seki use steel from Seki, rather than import from somewhere else?
    -What all is there to see in Seki related to knives and swords?
    -Is there good shopping in local shops there for knives?
    -Any recommendations on smiths for custom knives and swords? (Seki and all Japan)

    Thank you all.
    Last edited by Mike Schildmeyer; 03-12-2016 at 08:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    1
    Mike, Seki is definitely worth a visit and the region does have a slight touristy angle. The big event is the 'cutlery show' (doesn't translate very dramatically) but that's in October. The main problem you will have is the very indirect Japanese way of doing things, which involves introductions followed by introductions. To a westerner who is used to just buying stuff, the idea of persuading someone to permit you to buy something can be very intimidating.

    You are two months away, and that just isn't enough time to commission something. Lead times on even lesser known makers are months, with years at very boutique makers. Some of this is intentional of course. It's not just the blade, it's the interconnecting support skills like the handle makers that slow things down.

    I'd recommend three avenues of inquiry. First, Seki tourism - they are used to dealing with foreigners and will be able to advise on options for visiting. Second, you could contact the larger makers directly, as they have big western markets - companies like Kanetsune and Mcusta. Finally, you could track down some shops - I have only visited Seki by invitation, and so the shops I have visited have been in Sekai, Kyoto and of course Tokyo. All have a devastating selection of items and direct relationships with makers. I should add, though, that Japanese people in general are very accommodating to anyone with an interest in Japanese culture - so doors could easily open once you are communicating or there in person.

    I don't know how much scope you have to reconsider, but Sakai seems to have developed quite a tourist industry around smiths, forges and shops and you might find it a more fulfilling destination than Seki.
    Last edited by Andrew J.; 03-12-2016 at 11:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Scio, Oregon. USA.
    Posts
    14
    Yeah, tracking down shops and smiths is what I'm trying to do. And I don't have much interest in ordering anything from a large manufacturer, I can do that online. At the same time I'm also not looking for a multi thousand dollar tanto from a world renowned smith.

    I have found most Japanese people to be very friendly on all my past trips to Japan, I hoping for more of the same this trip.

    And still looking for any insights into smiths, shops in Japan and who actually uses steel from Japan.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Scio, Oregon. USA.
    Posts
    14
    So at the moment I have made arrangements to have a knife made by Master Takeshi Saji in Takefu City, so my trip has expanded to include this knife town as well. It will not be ready by my trip date, but I will visit the area, stop into some local shops, and definitely buy something while I'm there. Then I get to return home and wait for my knife to arrive, kinda like Christmas twice.

    I am still investigating to see if there is any chance of meeting Master Saji while I'm there, but I imagine that as being unlikely.

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