Mikami Hamono / Hiroshima
We first encountered Mikami san's knives in the museum store at the Bizen Okayama Sword Museum. Beautiful! To say they are not widely available is an understatement, and we are fortunate to have acquired some single examples.
Readers who search for online references to the maker of these knives will need to call on some serious google-fu. One thing they'll find that all references to Mikami Masayuki, knife maker, have one thing in common. Whether a product listing, an auction listings or a fan insight, Mikami san's name is always prefaced with the title 'swordsmith'. Every. Single. Time.
We want it to be true, but we have our reservations. We can't find any direct evidence, although there is an intriguing listing in Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present. In contrast Mikami san described himself as a no-kaji - an agricultural blacksmith.
Rest assured we will solve the mystery - the Mikami family forge is about forty minutes' drive from our front door and one day we will ring the bell.
One thing beyond doubt is the high regard held for the sword making skills of Masayuki san's first son, Sadanao. Sadanao san is former Chairman of the All Japan Swordsmith Association and his works are the pinnacle of the art.
Father Masayuki san's knives have one serious admirer, and that is his aforementioned master swordsmith son. We uncovered a quote:
Roughly, "My dad's knives get sharper the more you sharpen them and the more you use them."
He may not have lived very far from us but we never had the opportunity to meet Mikami san snr. He passed away in late 2017. It's a matter of regret, but tempered by the fact we now have some of the knives he crafted here on Knife Japan, to offer to those in the know.