Shigefusa 270mm kasumi yanagiba with custom, by me, desert ironwood handle

15 Nov 2010

Knives, knives, knives!

As I have already mentioned, one of my greatest passions is about japanese knives. Collecting, sharpening, rebuilding and using them. I just love the sleek shape, excellent balance and incredibly sharp edges of the yanagiba. A well made yanagiba instantly feels like an extension of your hand, and I turn into som kind of Edward Yanagibahand :o)

Of course I can't do with only yanagibas in my kitchen as I have a much more varied diet than raw fish fillet. I am not a darn cat!  Therefore different shapes of knife for different uses keeps invading my kitchen to my girlfriends despair. The picture below shows a variety of knives from my collection, which keeps growing :o)

The three knives to the left  are my trusty working horses and go-to knives. A really beautiful and very professional set. Bought from Tomohito Iida at Iida tools in Japan. A businessman with an unsurpassed level of service. Recommended!! So, from the very left, a blue steel kasumi style 180mm Deba for dismantling fish and poultry, then a blue steel kasumi style 210mm Usuba for veggies and finally a white steel Honyaki 300mm Yanagiba for sashimi. All "Sakai Gyotoku" knives by blacksmith Kasahara san. I was thinking about cusomizing the handles on these knives as well, but they are so perfectly well made and perfectly shaped and balanced that I really don't dare starting to fiddle with them. I can't possibly do better than this. These knives are true pieces of functional art, and I can almost feel the blacksmiths soul when picking up the honyaki. It is the materalisation of the Japanese will to perfection urging me to do my very best when using it.

The three knives in the middle are from the left, my very first yanagi, a small Masahiro blue steel knife. Then a Monzaburo white steel #2 kiritsuke custom handled by me, and finally the jewel of my collection, A Keijiro Doi 80th anniversary white steel #1 (shiro ichi ko) 300 mm kensaki yanagi hayate. One of only five made. My knife is #04/05. Master blacksmith Keijiro Doi is now retired, making this knife a real collectors piece. I feel honoured and humble to own one of his masterpieces. Actully I feel honoured and humble to own each and every one of these beautifully crafted knives.

The three knives to the right are a nashi-ji Santoku, a nashi-ji Nakiri and a mirror finished Wa Gyuto, all by master blacksmith Junichi Takagi. All three knives are Honyaki blue steel #1 and custom handled by me in ebony and water buffalo horn. Very light and versatile blades, incredibly sharp and with exeptional edge retention.


  1. thank you for your great respect for these masters of simple precision. Zen mastery seeks this simplicity of perfection, which of course is a very extremely complicated practice of commitment & continually finer, quieter discipline.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very good article
    Hello, how do I contact you?
    I'm from Sweden. I'm interested in buying a used Deba knife from Japan. Do you have any experiences in that. How do i know about the quality. There are so many different brands when i look.