With Masakage Month around the corner, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the gentlemen behind the forges at Masakage. Let's be honest here, odds are you're gonna end up with their handiwork in your kitchen.
If there was ever a group of blacksmiths that are easily likened to the Justice League, it would be the gentlemen working the forges in Takefu Village. Think about it, masters of their craft coming together to make everyone’s lives better with sharp knives; sounds like the work of superheroes to me.
Hiroshi Kato – The Koishi (pebble), Yuki (snow) & Kiri (fog) lines are all made by one man; each is an amazing knife with its own special nuances. Kato san has been a blacksmith since 1960, when he started his apprenticeship under his father. In Springhammer, he tells the story of how the first time he actually got to make a knife was years into his apprenticeship and on TV no less. Check out the trailer for Springhammer here.
Katsushige Anyru – “Iron is alive; it can live or die depending on the blacksmith.”, says Anyru san. That’s pretty heavy stuff, not a surprise as this is a man who started blacksmithing in 1959. You know what else happened in 1959? I don’t because I wasn’t alive yet, my parents were still kids. That’s a long time to be perfecting your craft. He is so dedicated to furthering his trade that in 1993 he helped build Takefu Knife Village as a place that would attract new apprentices.
Yu Kurosaki – It’s best to think of Kurosaki san as an Anakin Skywalker of sorts, he’s incredibly talented and half as young as his colleagues. Imagine how great his knives will be when he’s Obi-Wan’s age. He never felt that he was a natural blacksmith until he sold his first knife and saw the joy it brought to the customer. Had that never happened, he may have turned to the Dark Side and gave up. Luckily for the rest of us, he’s still at the forge making beautiful knives like the Masakage Shimo and limited Kurosaki Edition Koishi.
Ken Kageura – Kageura san (born 1942), is a 25th generation blacksmith and it’s the brain and hands behind some of the coolest knives in the shop. The Kujira (Whale) line of knives use recycled steel from re-forging pieces of scrap iron. Think of things like saw blades, sickles, hammers and retired knives being hammered together before being used as the cladding on a brand new knife. This process gives each knife a super unique look that just gets better with age as each piece of recycled steel develops its own patina.
Takayuki Shibata – Another one of the younger guys in the group, Shibata san is the President of Masakage and is arguably Japan’s best knife sharpener. He oversees the sharpening of EVERY SINGLE MASAKAGE KNIFE! That’s unreal, its like saying that David Chang personally seasons every bowl of noodles leaving his kitchens, except this is true.