Development of Traditional Japanese Knives

From the third through the seventh centuries, it was customary to bury royalty in tombs covered by large, keyhole-shaped monuments. These tombs were called kofun and were constructed of earth and stone. Around 450 A.D. the kofun of Emperor Nintoku was constructed in Sakai City. The tombs ranked in scale alongside the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and the building project was so immense that it was necessary to bring blacksmiths to Sakai from all over Japan. They produced the massive amount of hoes and spades needed for the mound construction. By the time of the kofun was finally completely, most of Japan' metal craftsmen had settled in Sakai for good.

Gradually, Sakai became the center of all metal craft in Japan - famous for its swords. Sakai became known for rifles after the Portuguese introduced them in 1543, and later for kitchen knives. In 1570, the Tokugawa shogunate granted Sakai craftsmen a special seal of approval. The government decreed that only knives made in Sakai be used to Harvest tobacco and that all such knives be stamped to indicate this. As a result, Sakai became known for producing thee finest Japanese cutlery.