Shigefusa is probably one of the best known and most respected knifemakers coming from Sanjo in Niigata, Japan. Izuka-san, the man behind the Shigefusa name, makes some of the World’s most sought after knives. I’ve heard both Masashi Yamamoto and Bob Kramer say that Izuka-san is the best.
Izuka-san has a very impressive resume for a blacksmith. He started his training under Kosuke Iwasaki, the father of the man making some of our favourite kamisori straight razors, where he learned basic techniques and a more scientific approach to looking at steel. After learning what he could, he apprenticed under the legendary Nagashima-san who taught him how to take what he learned and apply it to making kitchen knives. Izuka-san is like Luke Skywalker. He started his training with Obi Wan then finished up with Yoda, obviously he’s a force to be reckoned with.
The knives made at Shigefusa take a lot of patience and time. Izuka-san doesn’t purchase any sanmei steel, preferring to forge weld everything in house. He even makes his own damascus or suminagashi steel and calls it Kitaeji, not something most blacksmiths do. Like his first master, Kosuke-san, he prefers to use a Swedish carbon steel. According to them, it is the closest thing to tamahagane you can get, short of making the steel yourself.
One of the coolest things about Izuka-san’s technique is the use of a sen. A sen is a small blade with a handle on either side that is used instead of a grinder to shave nanometers of steel from the knife at a time. We are mega-excited to be able to carry Shigefusa knives when we can. Because of their scarcity and uber-meticulous construction, it may take up to 5 years to get one made. The best of the best usually takes time but is always worth the wait.
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