As I have mentioned earlier, out of all the Japanese knives the yanagi knife is the one closest to my heart. I just love the lines and the balance in well made yanagiba. The way it instantly becomes an extension of my hand almost feels like magic. The feel of a well sharpened blade easily slicing through fish leaving a shiny, almost oily surface totally free of tear and damage to the delicate flesh is really satisfying. Here is a picture of my current collection of these fascinating knives.
I will describe them briefly starting at the top:
1. Keijiro Doi 80th anniversary 300mm hayate kengata mirror finished yanagi. Number 4 of 5 made. White steel #1 (Shiro ichi ko). Octagonal Macassar ebony handle with blonde water buffalo horn bolsters. Collection piece, never used. Hardness HRC64-65.
2. My latest project. A refurbished 40++ years old 300mm mirror finished yanagi. Claimed to be true tamahagane steel, but more probably very high quality blue steel #1 (Aoko). Custom made (by me) octagonal Macassar ebony handle with silver inlays and black water buffalo horn bolsters. Hardness HRC63-65?
3. Sakai Gyutoko 300mm Honyaki mirror finished yanagi by master blacksmith Kasahara. From the shop of Tomohito Iida, Iida tools i Japan. If you are in the market for professional tools from Japan, I can recommend his shop. Excellent service, excellent tools, very reasonable prices. http://www.japantool-iida.com/ .The knife has a beautiful ripple line on both sides two thirds up the blade, so I have a lot of hardened steel here. A blade to pass down through several generations. My go-to yanagi. Gets incredibly sharp and stays sharp "for ever". White steel #2 (Shiro ni ko). Octagonal Ho-wood handle with black water buffalo bolster. Hardness HRC63-65.
4. Shigefusa 270mm kasumi yanagi by Tokifusa Iisuka. Special Swedish steel alloy by Shigefusa. Beautifully polished with Japanese natural stones to a silky matte finish. Custom (by me) octagonal handle of desert ironwood with silver inlays and vlack water buffalo horn bolsters. Absolutely perfectly balanced and a fantastic knife. Hardness HRC64-65?
5. Masahiro 240mm kasumi yanagi. My very first Japanese style knife. I bought this more than 10 years ago and for many years this was my only Japanese style knife. Started out as a yanagiba but after 10 years of sharpening it looks more like a fuguhiki. Blue steel #2 (Aoko). Custom (by me) octagonal Macassar ebony handle with black water buffalo horn bolster. A very light and easy knife to use. Hardness HRC62-63.