Seki is the center of cutlery industry in Japan with more than 600 companies that are involved in producing knives. According to legend, a master sword-maker known as Motoshige discovered that the region has all the resources ideal for making swords. The region is abundant with pine charcoal, high-quality ore and pure water that are all essential in tempering steel. His works were highly praised by warlords and appreciated throughout Japan.
Over the centuries, sword-makers became many together with the production of perfect swords as their works of art. Even today, the sword-makers of Seki carry on this 700-year tradition.
During the Muromachi Era, Kanemoto Magoroku and Saburo Shizu from Seki made high quality swords that were recognized throughout Japan. And this built Seki’s solid reputation as sword making center of superior quality swords. Until now, Seki City remains the lively hub of Japanese cutlery manufacturing.
During the Edo period, making kitchen knives and related products is still the major industry but using new combinations of modern machinery and traditional hand tools to create carbon steel blades that are stain-resistant.
Today, Seki is considered as the home of modern Japanese cutlery. The knives are lightweight and have sharp edges and with hard steel blades. It has an unbending characteristic which makes their shape easier to maintain.
The commonly used types of Japanese kitchen knives are the deba bocho/fish filleting knife, the santoku hocho/all-purpose utility knife, the nakiri bocho and usuba hocho/vegetable knives, and the tako hiki and yanagi ba or the sashimi slicers.
The Cutlery Festival in the “Town of Blades” or Seki City is celebrated to symbolize 700 years of traditional sword making culture and the modern cutlery industry of the region.
Cutlery wholesalers and manufacturers gather in the Cutlery Market during the Festival. They line up their stalls along a street in Honmachi-dori where outdoor knife shows and traditional sword forging are also performed and demonstrated. Kitchen knives, pocket knives, scissors and other blades are sold at discounted prices and are only available during the festival period. Some sword masters can also be seen practicing their sword skills in the area.
Conclusion: Japanese knives is a deep subject. In any case Seki City is still an indicator of quality but as with any famous name available to multiple manufacturers it is easily copied. Stay tuned for more on the subject of Japanese knives.