The Tamashi (Spirit, 魂) White 2 Honyaki Gyuto 240mm by Master Kenji Togashi and Hirosugu Tosa, one of my favouriate craftsmen dual from Sakai. Master Togashi heat treats the blade to perfection while Master Tosa truly understands how the knife should be grinded: super thin behind the edge with great fit and finish, and super tall as well, with about 55mm height!
The Tamashi is designed to be appreciated in use, therefore without the hard to maintain mirror finish. It is also extremely affordable considering it is a true master piece from Sakai.
K&S custom ebony handle with double metal spacer; K&S African Wenge saya.
The first Fujiyama hamon mizu-honyaki by Sakai master Kenji Togashi. White 2 Mizu-honyki sharpened by Hirosugu Tosa. While Togashi-san is considered among the best blacksmith in Sakai, and forges anything from White 2 kasumi blade to Blue 1 mizu-honyaki, he never forged any Mt. Fuji haomon honyaki knives before. Knives and Stones has managed to secure the very first batch of Mt. Fuji honyaki blades from Sakai Takayuki, and bringing them to you during the BFCM 2019 sale at a unbeatable price!
Kenji Togashi (Dento-Kogeshi)
Kenji Togashi is one of the most skilled craftsmen in Sakai. No matter what type of steel or profile I ask him to do, he will always handle it with ease. Blue Frost (Blue 1 Mizu-Honyaki) and White Fame (White 1 Mizu-Honyaki) are both forged by Togashi-san. Togashi-san runs a small workshop. Strictly speaking I can’t really call it small, since three sons and a couple apprentices are also working for him there (source), hence the Togashi-hamono should probably be called a big workshop. His workshop can handle pretty much everything in house: forging, heat-treating and even sharpening. I still remember the first time I went into his workshop, the very first thing that caught my sight was the huge number of knife profile templates, there are probably a hundred of them, each with their manufacturer, model and length written, and there are a lot of highly regarded brands amongst them (we probably all know the Suisin Densho line is one of many).
Fig: Some knife profile templates haning in the wall of Togashi-san's workshop
Another very interesting find at his workshop is the forge that is specifically designed for those super long tuna knives. By long, I mean really LONG! I handled a couple of them that is taller than me (requires two persons to operate)! I have no idea how difficult to forge one of these extra long blades but think about the required sharpness, straightness and toughness; I am sure it can only be done by someone really knows his stuff.
Togashi-san started knife forging back in 1967 and was awarded the prestigious Dento-Kogeshi in 1996, which is quite early considering he is just in his 60s. With the older generation of master either retired or approaching retirement, Togashi-san is one of those very few masters in Sakai that are able to foget top quality blades with relative higher quantity.
Fig: Me holding two super long tuna knives (they sit on the floor) at Togashi-san's workshop.
Hirosugu Tosa (Dento-Kogeshi)
Hirosugu Tosa started his career in 1967 and was honored with Dento-Kogeshi in 1990, he is the main sharpener of the more premium blades at Aoki Hamono. The entire Syousin blades by Sakai Takayui (apart from Syousin Sakura) are carefully shaprened by Tosa-san.
I probably don’t need to go into details on how divine his sharpening skill is, since the years of experience just speaks for it. What I am particularly impressed by how open-minded he is. I have encountered many craftsmen, while very skillfully, has a hard time listen to what I really want, and are slow to make minor adjustments on the details that we ask for, particular on the fit and finish side of things. It is understandable because the Japanese market is not too fussed about the details we care for, which means often the sharpeners don’t understand the need of paying extra attention on the F&F. This was never an issue for Tosa-san. No matter how minor the details are, the message always gets through. For example, we often have many custom shapes (diamond shaped usuba honyaki is just one of many) and polishing requirements (a batch of knives would have full mirror, half mirror, different kanji engraving); he always gets the job done without any error. That just shows how he pays his attention to all the details of each knife.
Fig: Tosa-san demonstrating the sharpening process of Syousin Hienn Kritsuke Yanagiba.