BBQ Night at Takayuki's Sanpo Factory
I have visited Sakai Takayuki so many times in the past, yet I would never say no if given the chance to visit again, as there are always new and exciting things to discover.
My October trip to Japan (and later US) started with another visit to Takayuki, partly because there is a new office / showroom that is recently that I really wanted to check out, and partly because there is a family BBQ hosted at the Sanpo factory that night, and we are invited!
(Goes back 5 years ago, I would never have thought that I will one day have a BBQ at this factory)
Forging and Sharpening
We first arrived at the Sanpo factory in the afternoon, as master Itsuo Doi and Master Mitsuo Yamatsuka along with other makers are working on that day. Some of my younger colleagues are visiting Japan for the first time, and re naturally super excited to see all the legendary masters. For me, it is always a great chance to envy how the masters work so effortlessly to transform a lifeless piece of steel into a stunning functional art.
(Master Itsuo Doi forging, the exact spot where his late father Keijiro Doi use to work)
The last time I was here, master Doi had a holiday that day so we didn’t get to see him forging, but he was working today and apart from seeing him demonstrating his master forging skill, I scored a finished blank from Master Doi!
(A fully heat treated knife blank of a single bevel fish knife from Master Doi)
I captured a few of the masters working in slow motion, here they are
The New Showroom
Since the work needs to stop early to prepare for tonight’s party, we then went to check out the newly built showroom.
(The new showroom of Sakai Takayuki)
Just like most of the makers in Sakai, Takayuki’s main office was built ages ago when there were seldom any visitors, the layout was not quite adequate for these days, where visitors like me often lurks around Sakai. As a result, Takayuki constructed this new, impressive showroom located very close to their head office. (Note: unfortunately, it is still not open to individual visitors without prior arrangement)
The showroom is well designed with a lot of original paintings of their craftsmen by artist Agarwen （Instagram: agarwen_umarth）from Mexico . The first one were for Master Keijiro Doi, Itsuo Doi and now created a few more for other craftsmen as well. He is super talented!
The showroom also features an impressive array of Sakai Takayuki knives, there are a lot of knives that I didn’t know existed before, showing how diversified their products lines are.
(The original painting of later Master Keijiro Doi and the knives on display at the meeting room)
The BBQ Party!
The main dish of the day was of course the family BBQ night at the Sanpo factory. The BBQ night was an annual gathering for Takayuki’s staff and their families, when Aoki-san asked if we’d like to join them, I was pleasantly surprised and humbled since this was not one of those events that comes by often, more importantly, I am just glad that we are accepted by the Takayuki family. As I have said before, one of the main reasons that I enjoy my job so much is because I get to travel around the world and meet different people. For such a fascinating country like Japan, be able to see it as a local rather than a pure visitor is truly exciting. Plus, who can resist the charcoal wagyu yakiniku 😉
We arrived back to Sanpo factory and saw the BBQ was almost ready, with lots of meat, drink, and the charcoal grill being set up. I quickly grabbed a can of cool looking soda, oh boy, 9% alcohol was strong for a can of soda!
Gradually, everyone came along, Doi san, Yamatsuka san, families, kids and even Takayuki Aoki sa n himself (Takayuki-san is the 2nd generation of the Aoki family, and now it is run by the 3rd generation brothers, Takahiro and Toshikazu).
(My chef friend Davy even showed off a bit in front of Doi san with his Wagyu steak)
It was a great day at Sakai Takayuki. Not only we get see the masters working at their Sanpo factory, and was able to check out their newly built showroom with lots artwork decorations and an impressive display of Takayuki knives. Most importantly, we were invited to attend their family gathering BBQ. It was almost like a surreal new experience, as I got to enjoy a totally different, a very casual, atmosphere with all the craftsmen that I have always looked up to, I thoroughly enjoyed the night. Thank you, Sakai Takayuki, for such a wonderful day of experience!