On Friday, we met with Fujiwara Teruyasu. Some of you may know who he is, but for those of you who don’t, he is one of the most well-known Tokyo based knife makers. We headed over to his shop in the early afternoon for your meeting. After about a 45 minute train ride, we arrived at the shop he and his wife run.
As with many knife shops, the walls are literally lined with knifes. Fujiwara is probably best known for his stainless clad carbon knives. He makes them in both western handle and wa-handle varieties, and in all shapes and sizes. He is the 4th generation of knife makers in his family. His family has been forging blades (swords in the beginning) since 1871 (the third year of Meiji).
Fujiwara Teruyasu produces a number of knives, both single bevel and double bevel. Some of his more known lines are Maboroshi No Meitou, Nashiji, and Denka no Hotou, however, he is a very talented guy and can make many more things.
Here is a great example of his Denka no Hotou line (yes… he made this one).
We spoke for a long time, and I had a chance to ask a lot of questions. Fujiwara Teruyasu produces knives from a number of steels, including the most common white and blue steels. As many of you know, my favorite of these Hitachi steels is White #1. Its ability to take an edge is pretty much unmatched among knife steels. I asked what his favorite steel is; both to work with and to use… guess what his answer was… WHITE #1. Why? Because it’s awesome. Guess what you’ll be seeing some of very soon ;)
For the Uber dorks out there (of which I am one), I made sure to ask about Rockwell hardness. He took a lot of time to answer this and in doing so made sure to bang some crappy knives on a huge hardened piece of metal to demonstrate why softer steel knives suck. For his knives he shoots for 64 hrc. He thinks this is the best balance… the knives are not super brittle, but are hard enough to hold the kinds of edges he likes them to hold. He believes softer is just not worth it. Even though I don’t always agree, having used his knives, he is absolutely on to something. He really is producing knives for people who know and care. It’s very important to him that people understand about the knife (steel, shape, sharpening), and so he tries to take as much time as possible to educate people wanting to use his knives.
I then asked his what goes into his decision about the geometry of his knives. His answer… its more or less just a feeling. When it feels right, that’s what he goes with. He tries to make the knives thin enough so as not to wedge, but not too thin so as to be flimsy or not stand up to abuse. The leads directly into the next question, which was how he sharpens his edges. I was wondering if he uses a flat grind or a hamaguri grind (convex). He says unless he is asked to do something else, he goes with hamaguri edges on his knives. He thinks this adds to the strength of the edge and produces a better cutting knife. We talked a little bit about technique, and suffice it to say after many years of doing this, they guy knows his stuff.
After that, we talked a little about his forging and heat treating techniques. Now I am no expert on these processes (in fact, I know very little about how to do them), but I have used a knife or two and I know what different things feel like. Fujiwara’s White and Blue #1 are the only ones I have used (so far…but I aim to fix that soon). For those of you who have sharpened them, you know the burr/wire edge comes off very nicely and easy. It’s really a pleasure to sharpen. He takes special care in his forging to make this so (he also says that the steel he chooses to work with makes it easier… the man loves his white and blue #1).
Very soon you will be seeing these knives on our site. In addition to the normal things you may see from him, he has some super cool knives that he makes. We hope you will like them as much as we (and by we, I mean “I”) do.
Thanks for reading… more coming soon. We will also have some non-knife related stuff to post in the near future for you Japanophiles out there.
(Dinner with my wife's family... her dad made the plate...
Yes, that's right... he MADE the plate!!!
I got lucky... i have the coolest in-laws)