Okubo Kajiya is unique, in more ways than one.
For a start it's the one and only blacksmith operating in Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku Island (Japan's fourth largest), but really, that's just incidental. For us what sets them apart is the low output - only three to four knives per day. The reason so few knives are produced is that Okubo san and his son are true artisans, forging warikomi blades one by one using the old ways. Most that emerge from their elven-like forge are for customers waiting for their particular Okubo Kajiya blade, forged and sharpened especially for them.
Unlike many knife makers Okubo san places a great deal of emphasis on final sharpness, and if you decide to have one of his knives forged and sharpened especially for you, you can be guaranteed a highly satisfying level of craftsmanship and exemplary cutting feel. The santoku you receive will be amazingly sharp out of the box, beautifully executed and hand-honed to its potential.
|Blade steel:||Aogami #2|
|Bevel:||Ryōba double bevel|
|Blade construction:||Hand-forged warikomi|
|Left-handed available:||Handle and blade suit both hands|
|Ferrule:||Suigyu (Water Buffalo Horn)|
|Weight in hand:||159g|
勝浦町 大久保鍛冶屋 2014.09.12 OA http://www.shokokai.or.jp/36/3630110026/index.htm
ザ・職人#11「大久保鍛冶屋」勝浦町 大久保鍛冶屋 2014.09.12 OA http://www.shokokai.or.jp/36/36301100...
A rare, lofty cutting feel
Posted by Unknown on 4th Oct 2020
This knife has a rare, lofty cutting feel that comes rarely every so often, even among the Japanese knives I’ve tried from Echizen, Sanjo, and Sakai from more well known makers. The santoku made by Okubo Kajiya belongs to knives that despite surface finish or grind, cut more eagerly and unflinchingly than thinner or even more finished knives.
This is noticeable when peeling carrots or going straight through vegetables. The knife doesn’t stop even in the middle of the cut. It doesn’t wedge or get stuck in the cut. Even when there’s an avocado seed. It keeps going, it doesn’t bend or chip, and the result is a glossy cut all the way through, and an unusually crisp and intact edges. Often, edges are bruised, and sharp knives leave those intact and surfaces smooth. But beyond this is the crispness to the things that are cut that this knife is able to give. This is what I very much value in a knife, and pretty much the main reason I still try Japanese kitchen knives. To me at least this is immediate. With most other Japanese other knives, the surfaces are just barely more bruised, that yes, I don’t think anyone else would notice. But the result this knife gives to texture is almost like the difference between a crisp potato chip and a slightly stale old one.
The steel and heat treatment feels exceptional. It is one of the most glassy-feeling and wear resistant to sharpen, compared to other white and blue steels, and even HAP40 and SG2. This can make it a chore to thin and sharpen. But it somehow comes to an exceptionally crisp edge better than many white steels I’ve tried, and the knife feels very tough. Whether because of the construction or the whole forging and heat treatment process, the knife feels unusually hard and stiff, even accounting for the geometry.
The spine is thick and very sturdy exiting the handle and immediately tapers to a thinner spine. This thickness helps make the knife feel firmly planted to the handle, without much flex. Helping this is an immediate taper out of the handle so that the knife isn’t as thick above the cutting edge. The taper out of the handle has a small concavity forged in on each side near the spine, right where the blade face meets the neck of the knife, that feel nearly perfect for my fingers when pinching the knife to use a in a chef’s grip. The choil is angled and chamfered for a right hand-user and feel very comfortable, and the slightly backswept heel helps the knife to feel secure in this grip.
The handle, blade, and installation are all straight. The blade, mine at least, is forged and ground so that the left side is slightly flatter compared to the right side. This allows the left side to be more close to the food, and gives the right side more thickness for food to fall off. The blade does have the handle-tang junction sealed, which is great. If a knife ever doesn’t come with this, wood putty from the hardware store fills this space excellently. Just use a toothpick or skewer to shape putty to fill the space.
The blade road finish is a bit coarse at first, and can be refined with sand paper or metal polish (carefully!!!!). This last bit I’m not sure I would immediately recommend, unless you are very good with handicraft. I have actually cut off the skin of my very fingertip (right index finger) a while back when I was less experienced with this sort of stuff about how to carefully hold and position things. At least it grew back, mostly (the finger pad does actually feel that much slightly smaller upon comparison to my left index finger).
Overall, a great knife and one I’m happy to own. Thanks to Michael and the Okubo family.