South of bustling and busy Osaka sits the laid-back port city of Sakai, home of the legendary handcrafted Japanese steel knives, a 600-year-old craft passed down with meticulous precision from one generation to another.
The craft of Japanese knife smiths is acclaimed worldwide, and it’s not uncommon to find tourists fresh off the airport bus making a beeline for knife shops. If you’re passionate about cooking or simply a knife nerd, head for Sakai City, the most preeminent among the few handmade knife-making centers left in Japan. In fact, Sakai makes around 90 percent of Japan’s handcrafted knives.
Before you invest in a traditional Sakai knife, it’s important to know that each knife has been through the hands of at least four master craftsmen – the blacksmith, who forges the carbon steel through a seven-step process; the sharpener who bevels the edges of the knife with wet ceramic and wooden grinding wheels; the handle maker, who customs the right size, shape and weight of magnolia, karin wood or ebony into handles with buffalo horn trimmings and finally hafting in the hands of an assembler, who securely aligns blade to handle ensuring the product is finished with a level of quality that has now set the benchmark for knives worldwide.
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