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Sakimaru • 300 mm • Blue #2 • Japanese handle of burnt oak • for right-handed use
Guren, means red lotus. A name inspired by the vibrant red color of the flames in the forge furnace. These are created by the pine charcoal, which Doi san uses in forging. The cabbage is also packed in a small envelope in the box when purchasing the knife.
After forging at a relatively low temperature, the blade is cold hammered to get the right thickness. The hardening of the aogami steel is traditionally done by cooling it with water. Itsuo Doi processes the blade with a rustic kurouchi finish and leaves a clear hammer blow. The knife is finished with a beautiful octagonal handle made of burnt oak.
Kurouchi is not a type of knife, but a traditional blade finish. Kurouchi literally translated means "knifesmith finish". By not grinding or polishing the remnants of the forging process from the blade, a dark finish remains. This black coating protects against oxidation, lowers manufacturing costs and gives the knife a traditional look. The characteristic look of this style is appreciated by many knife enthusiasts.
This traditional steel is not named after its colour, but named after the colour of its paper wrapping, in which it is stored in the Hitachi steel factory in Japan. There are three different grades: super, #1 en #2. Blue steels use a high grade of carbon, chrome and vanadium added in their alloy. Aogami super even added extra tungsten. Aogami super is here " Best of both worlds" Blue #1 is for sharpness, Blue #2 for toughness. Blue steels are mostly seen in deba or usuba knives, white steels often in yanagibas. Aogami super is regarded as one of the best traditional steels by Japanese knifemakers, but difficult to work with. Blue steels are difficult to sharpen on a whetstone, but they remain sharp for a longer period, compared to white steels.
We usually start our trips to Japan in Osaka, from where we take a Shinkansen ( a bullet train) to Seki, in Gifu prefecture. We start in Sakai, in south of Osaka, where we always recieve a warm friendly welcome from Aoki san and Ogawa san from Sakai Takayuki. In recent years the customers in our shop have been asking for special Japanese traditionally forged knives: Yanagiba, Sakimura, Kengata: all the names of models which are used in Japanese kitchens for preparing various sorts of fish. Sakai Takayuki is my key which opens the door to the world of traditional Japanese knives and to top it all, their product range is targeted for the western market. For making of the traditional Japanese knives Sakai Takayuki employs the best of the best: Itsuo Doi and Kenji Togashi, among others. The blacksmith Yamatsuke san, with his stable hand on the Kaiten Toshi (Japanese water stone), is a guarantor of an exceptionally sharp finish. Sakai Takayuki buys lots of their steel from the Aichi steel (their headquarters are situated close to Nagoya) and works among other with carbon steel shirogami white and aogami blue. A nice detail: the colours in the names of the steel have nothing to do with the colour of the steel itself- it's just the colour of the packing in which the raw steel is being stored in the factory. The western models are manually finished at the company's quarters in Osaka (sharpening), but largely manufactured in Seki, in Gifu prefecture. The finish and the quality is sublime- just what we can expect from Takayuki.