Masters of Tradition — The World at a Standstill
Steelmaking has been at the beating heart of the Niigata 新潟市, Japan, for more than 800 years. Kamikoto builds on this legacy to keep tradition alive in a changing world. Each blade pays tribute to the centuries-old craft of knifemaking, and is handmade with precise attention and care, employing traditional skills handed down by expert knifemakers through the centuries. The metal industry in the Niigata prefecture dates back to the Edo period 江戸時代 and earlier, when blacksmithing and metalworking expertise grew to cater to a demand from Tokyo and surrounding regions. Rich deposits of ore and kajigo – a fine coal used by blacksmiths – was vital to the success of foundries in the area. The Emperor’s best blacksmiths trained the local population, and this craft flourished over the years, growing into a metal industry that remains an important sector in the region to this day.
The Kamikoto Santoku 三徳包丁— Strength and Aesthetics in Perfect Harmony
The Kamikoto Santoku bōchō 三徳包丁 derives its name from the “three virtues” offered by this knife: cutting 切る, dicing ダイシング and mincing 刻む. The Santoku blade is carefully balanced – and meticulously polished, a ritual that completes the blade; the final step that concludes the traditional knifesmithing process.
A Process Refined over Generations
The oldest katana 刀 were hot-drop forged – blacksmiths drew swords from a blazing furnace and painstakingly beat it into shape with a hammer. This technique strengthened the metal to unmatched hardness. In forges of this age, metal is cut, then heated to strengthen and harden the blade. Kamikoto knives are made from high quality steel from Niigata, Japan – a steel with high corrosion resistance and durability. In the Kamikoto forge, steel is heated up to 1050°C for three hours and annealed at 200°C for two hours. This strengthens the steel and diminishes the flexibility of the blade – to ensure the knife keeps its edge for longer. The blade stays firm when held against a whetstone. Such blades are prized because they sharpen well, and last a lifetime.
The Legendary Blade of Houchou
The Japanese word for kitchen knife – Houchou 包丁 – is a word of Chinese origin and derives from the legendary Houchou or Cook Ding, a story narrated in the book Zhuangzi 莊子, one of the two foundational texts of Daoism. Houchou handled his knife so skillfully, he never once chipped his blade, and only seldom sharpened it. The earliest techniques that shaped the craft of the katana 刀 found their way to Japan through Mainland China and the Korean Peninsula in early history, and were then evolved and refined by Japanese knifemakers and swordsmiths over the centuries. Kamikoto is respectful of this shared legacy. Each Kamikoto knife is carefully crafted with high quality steel from the Niigata Prefecture in Japan. Fully versed in traditional blade-making practices, Kamikoto's knives are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Yanjiang, China – a town with over 1,000 years of knife and sword making heritage, and today, the leading center of Japanese-style knife forging, polishing and balancing – where the Japanese legacy is preserved, and carried on, with reverence for the skill of the knifesmiths who evolved this craft centuries ago.
Keeping an Ancient Craft Alive in a Changing Age
As with many complex tasks, rather than a single craftsman, a group of dedicated artisans are involved in the making of a single knife. From the smith who forges the raw shape to an expert polisher, grinder, and a specialist who sharpens the blade to the traditional fine edge. Kamikoto knives stays true to Niigata’s centuries-old legacy to make steel for knives of unmatched quality and solemn beauty. Each Kamikoto knife is masterclass in skill; you feel the spirit of the craftsman flowing through the end piece. All Kamikoto knives come with certificates of authenticity – stamped with the Kamikoto knifesmith’s seal – and a natural-ash wood box for safekeeping and careful preservation of the Kamikoto blade.