Kuwahara Kaji Kobo・Nagasaki Gunkanjima Yanagiba 185mm・Kurouchi
We tend to think of knife making and steel work as a purely technical pursuit but here, in Japan, there's a spiritual aspect to knife making that is easily overlooked.
Kuwahara san has devoted his working life to honing his skills beyond the point of technical excellence, to a plane that allows him to impart his ki, his fundamental energy, into the execution of every blade. Yes, making knives is a commercial enterprise and knives are essentially a product. So are those tea utensils that fetch more than the price of a Tokyo condominium. There's more to it than meets the eye.
Kuwahara san's kurouchi (black-forged) yanagiba is forged, shaped and sharpened in meditative fashion by the man himself, quenched in mineral-laden artesian well water flavored with the local volcanic earth of Kayaki-cho. The handle is keyaki, an extraordinarily durable hardwood with a distinctive grain.
Let's unpack the name. The township of Kayaki-cho has a long association with the nearby island of Hashima, also widely known as Gunkanjima. They share an industrial history and knife makers in the area long utilized the high-grade coking coal extracted from Mitsubishi's undersea Hashima mine. It's an appropriate marketing association, hence 'Nagasaki Gunkanjima Yanagiba-bocho'.
One point of interest - the ㊉ mark on Kuwahara san's blades is the crest of the powerful Shimazu clan, feudal lords of the lands of Satsuma. Satsuma officials granted Kuwahara san's grandfather perpetual use of the crest on his blades, allowing it to be used as a mark of excellence and trust.
|Bevel:||Ryōba double bevel|
|Left-handed available:||Handle and blade suit both hands|
|Weight in hand:||102g|
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