Knives

History of Japanese Knife Crafting

Japan is the land of long traditions, where hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge and experience are passed down from master to apprentice, from teacher to pupil. From ikebana flower arrangements to martial arts and kabuki theatre, each tradition has its own set of rules, procedures and schools of styles. Japanese chef knives are fashioned by techniques that were originally developed for making katana (samurai swords) over 1000 years ago.

The shift from sword crafting to knife crafting began in the 1850’s when Commodore Matthew Perry’s “black ships” (steam boat) anchored in Edo (Tokyo) Bay, and demanded the emperor to open Japan’s long isolated ports to Western trade. When the United States occupied Japan after World War II, General MacArthur banned the production and possession of katana. The ban forced large numbers of highly skilled craftsmen to turn their skills and attention to crafting kitchen knives. Although, the ban was repealed after seven years, the Japanese government continues to limit production to very few pieces a year. However, the legacy and unforgettable sharpness of the katana still lives on in the heart of the kitchen 1200 years later.

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