Born in 1950, knife smith Hideo Kitaoka works in Takefu Village, Echizen in Fukui Prefecture. He specializes in the production of high quality, traditional Japanese blades. In 1980, Echizen was the first production centre for forged blades to be awarded the nationally recognized Traditional Craft Product accolade. Blades have been hand forged there since Muromachi period (1392-1573).
These single sided (sinle bevel) knives are just what the doctor ordered for sushi preparation. Fish fileting and slicing is what these blades excel at. The Usuba is a very precise vegetable knife. The cutting edge is forged from #2 White carbon steel also known as Shirogami #1. Forged to a very hard Rockwell hardness of 63:64 these knives have an extremely long edge retention and are less brittle than some carbon steel blades.
The Damascus steel used for the construction of these blades is stunning and elegant. These are some of the best sushi knives I’ve ever used. In the past I’ve paid much more and received way less in regards to performance and handling.
These knives are finished with an octagon shaped Japanese style rosewood handle and black pakka wood collar. A modern look for traditional handles. Pakka wood is basically layers of rose or sandal wood bound with heaps of silicone. This type of handle creates a knife with overall lightness and a blade forward balance. I love a light knife as one does not become fatigued with heavy use and they are more precise.
The Kanji on the knife blade 越前英雄作 reads - Echizen Hideo Saku (made by Hideo of Echizen)
|Steel Type||#2 Shirogami (white carbon) Steel|
|Handle Material||Rosewood handle with pakka wood collar|