It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the knife I’m using in my kitchen is important to me. As a professional chef turned career knife nerd, reaching that ultimate kitchen-zen feeling is a driving force in my life, but is always playfully out of reach, always challenging me to improve. I imagine a guy like Tadayuki Sone-san, the third-generation owner of Tadafusa Knives, has a similar attitude towards his craft, too.
Sone-san has learned from the past—his grandfather, Torasaburo Sone-san, founded Tadafusa in Sanjo way back in 1948. Sanjo has been something of a blacksmithing epicentre for several hundred years. It’s also home to some of the most well respected Sake distilleries and winter sports resorts. Yes, Sanjo truly has it “going on” in all the conventional senses. Unsurprisingly, Sone-san has a very strong sense of civic pride. He’s dedicated to keep all of their production in Sanjo to help create employment opportunities locally. This extends not just to his generation, Sone-san wants Tadafusa to stay in Sanjo so the next generation can inherit this tradition and improve upon their craft.
PRO TIPYou can learn more about Tadafusa and Tadayuki Sone in the Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives.
When I’m looking for a knife, there are a lot of questions that run through my mind. How well will it hold an edge? How does it perform? Is it stainless, or will it rust? How does it feel? For me, the Tadafusa “Hocho Kobo” (which simply translates to “Kitchen Knife”) checks all of my most important boxes. The first time I held one in my hand, even before I felt the way it could effortlessly glide through a tomato, I already knew it was special. It’s incredible thinness and chestnut handle make it light as a feather. It possesses a very simple beauty—brushed steel and wood give it a clean and elegant appearance. It is, in many ways, an understated knife.
Not only are they elegant, sharp, and nimble, but they’re also built to last. Sone-san has chosen to forge his knives out of a material called SLD, a steel originally developed to be used tocut other types of steel. Neat! Like many other types of Japanese steel, it holds it’s edge exceptionally well, but it’s also easily honed and sharpened. It’s more durable than most carbon steel knives, and has the added convenience of being fully stainless. Furthermore, the chestnut handles have been worked using a charcoaling process - this means they’re water resistant and anti-bacterial.
And then there’s the price. It’s easy to imagine the knife I’m talking about being placed out of reach—on a pedestal surrounded by velvet rope—but you’d be mistaken. In fact, none of the knives in the whole Hocho Kobo line are over $180. The 210mm Gyuto, most chef’s favourite tool, is only $169. Simply put, Tadafusa makes some of the best knives in the world, but their production is dialed in to the point where you need not sacrifice your whole paycheck on a set of insane knives. Tadafusa? More like… RADafusa.