August 21, 2020 3 min read
Sakai Takayuki is another brand in Sakai, perhaps the most well known brand in the region. Sakai Takayuki was founded in 1947 as a distributor of Sakai knives, which actually makes them a relatively new company in the area (some Sakai companies have been around more than 100 years). Despite this, they quickly became one of the most prominent players in the region.
The founder of Sakai Takayuki, Ichiro Aoki, started a company selling Sakai knives after he saw high-quality handmade Sakai knives being used in Japanese sweets shops. When he started, Sakai had a strong reputation among professional chefs and cooks all throughout Japan, but there wasn’t a good distribution network. Ichiro saw this opportunity and decided to travel across Japan, visiting every knife store he could find, and demonstrating the quality of Sakai knives to their owners, so they would carry them in their stores. His efforts paid off and Sakai Takayuki knives made their way all across Japan. With demand for high quality knives increasing, Sakai Takayuki built a factory in 1977 and invited blacksmiths and sharpeners to work there. The first blacksmith is a name many knife nerds will recognize: Keijiro Doi.
Itsuo Doi-san, at work in his forge.
When we talk about Sakai Takayuki, we have to talk about Keijiro Doi, as was a true master and remains a legend of knife-making. His Aogami single bevel knives are legendary, partially because he forge-welded and forged steels at a much lower temperatures than other blacksmiths, to avoid decarbonation of the steel and enlargement of the steel’s grain size. He passed his skills down to his son, Itsuo Doi, who has been in forging knives for almost a half century. He is very thorough at each step of the forging process. Rather than rush to forge his blades into the right shape, he heats up the steel just enough to make it workable. Overheating steel when forging enlarges the carbide (steel particle) size, which makes for a more brittle knife. By using as little heat as possible, Doi-san is able to make his knives more durable.
Sakai Takayuki also has a resident sharpener, Mitsuo Yamatsuka and his 2 sons. Yamatsuka-san has been in the sharpening business since 1974, which gives him almost half a century of experience. He always thinks of the end-users when he sharpens knives, so he aims for a perfect balance between sharpness and durability. Thinner the blade is, the sharper the knife gets, but the more fragile it becomes. His experience allows him to expertly walk the fine line between durability and sharpness.
Yamatsuka-san, with his copy of The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives.
Knives in our lineup such as the Sakai Takayuki Homura, Homura Kogetsu or Genbu series are all made as a collaboration between these two incredibly talented craftsmen.
Sakai Takayuki doesn’t just work with these resident craftsmen, but also others such as famed blacksmith Kenji Togashi-san, and knife sharpener Koji Tosa. We carry a collaboration series from them, known as Shironiko Mizu Honyaki. These Honyaki blades have a gorgeous subtle hamon and incredible mirror polishing. We are proud to carry a variety of lines from Sakai Takayuki, from their entry level single bevel line Suigyu Kasumi Togi to their beautiful Sumingashi line called Uzushio.
We are thrilled to have this working relationship with Sakai Takayuki, and we look forward to carrying more of their knives in future!
The Homura Kogetsu 240mm Gyuto, by Doi-san.
The Genbu Sakimaru 300mm Yanagiba, by Doi-san.
The Shironi Honyaki 270mm Yanagiba, by Togashi-san.
Naoto came to Canada in 2007 and we aren't letting him go back. After getting angry with his roommate's dull knives, he started to dream of sharp Japanese knives. Naoto graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor degree of art, majoring International Relations and finds that selling Japanese knives is his own way of doing international relations. Naoto is our Cultural Ambassador bridging Japan and Canada. You can also see him in SpringHammer looking cool and holding it all together.