More than 700 years of history.
Kikuichi has a long and impressive history. Throughout last 100 years Kikuichi has been producing in Sakai but the foundation of the brand has started long before that. More than 700 years ago the former emperor of Japan, Emperor Gotoba, gave an order to Shiro Kanenaga to become his personal swordsman. For the following hundreds of years the Kikuichi has made swords for the Emperors. On the swords the symbol of Chrysanthemum was visible and it appears on the knives to this day. This sign is an imperial award for the craftsmanship and it acknowledges an excellent quality. Today the swords of Shiro Kanenaga are the national heritage and they are proudly displayed in the Seikado museum in Tokyo.
Shiro Kanenaga is one of distant ancestors of Kikuichi and his name is integrated in a full company's name: Kikuichi Monjyu Shiro Kanenaga, Kikuichi: the first is the chrysanthemum, Monjyu is de buddha who was adored by Shiro Kanenaga in Nara, his city of birth south of Osaka.
The current president Ikuyo Yanagisawa owns a shop in Nara and an office in New York.
When Hiro came to my shop in 2014, he was the first Japanese representative I was honored to welcome. I've invited a small group of chefs and what followed was the first knife session. Ever since I invite the knife makers more often and I try to build a bridge between the makers and the end users. Each brand has its story, its vision and its method which is not directly visible in a knife but is great to tell. I still do believe that you have to feel a knife, you have to become one with it, or the way Japanese would say "You have to find your soul in a knife". I've heard this often in Japan and Hiro told me about Hocho Zuka: a small Japanese tempel a chef can visit to ask for his good fortune. He can also thank for the knives he uses. The chefs promises then to study harder and to become even beter in the culinary arts. With this in the back of your mind and knowing that Kikuichi exists already for more than 700 years you do look differently at the Kikuichi knife. Honour, respect and dedication.