Mori Kajiya / Nagasaki
There are blacksmiths all over Japan making fine knives and whom you've never heard of. Surprise surprise. It's a big country.
How do these craftsmen make a living, then, when we can't find their stuff to buy?
Well, that's easy - you don't fit their usual customer profile. Don't worry. It's not you. It's the sales channels you access, which we'd venture are quite limited in terms of Japanese knives (thanks for stopping by Knife Japan, by the way).
Put in simple terms, there are a lot of blacksmiths who work to capacity with their established sales channels and don't need to reach out to you. Local markets, big-city region-focused department store sales events, walk-in retail, local souvenir shops. Yes, some do a great job with internet sales, many avoid internet marketing as time-consuming and unnecessary.
There's one domestic internet sales channel that is an absolute powerhouse, and that's 'Furusato'. It means Home Town and it's a tax tie-in that keeps a lot of small knife producers across Japan very, very busy. The true power of the internet! It's amazing, actually.
Here's how it works. As a tax-paying citizen of Japan you can register to submit your tax to your home town, no matter where in the country you live. There are great incentives - pay 20,000 yen in tax, receive a packet of local soba noodles. Natsukashii!* Pay 100,000 yen in tax, get a free knife! Maybe two.
Participation is invitation-only for knife makers as it is with all other producers. The city becomes your main customer, and they always pay on time.
You guessed it - Mori san is flat out meeting orders with Furusato. We always drop in on Mori Kajiya when in the neighborhood and this time managed to wrangle some knives away from the clutches of those pesky tax payers.
*Courtesy of BBC Travel: Natsukashii is a Japanese word used when something evokes a fond memory from your past. But natsukashii – which derives from the verb “natsuku”, which means “to keep close and become fond of” – indicates joy and gratitude for the past rather than a desire to return to it.