Through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, fewer and fewer young men in Japan were becoming blacksmiths. At that time, learning to bash steel consisted of spending 10 hours a day in a dark, dirty, dangerous garage, working alongside a (probably) grumpy old man on old equipment. How appealing is that? Not so much.
That’s why Anryu-san, Saji-san, Kato-san, Kitaoka-san, Asai-san and 5 other blacksmiths, knife sharpeners and craftsmen started Takefu Knife Village. They wanted to attract new people to the industry, raise the profile of blacksmiths and increase the quality of goods from the area.
Takefu is the old name of the city of Echizen, which was formed in 2005 when Takefu and Imadate merged. But Takefu is the name the craftsmen prefer, as it refers to a time of tradition and handmade crafts, and the region’s 700-year-old history of knife making. Importantly, the area is also home to Takefu Special Steel Co. Ltd. —handy for the blacksmiths to have the steel made in their backyard.
Takefu Knife Village is a modern facility with loads of equipment and a focus on safety. It’s a great place to learn, as you get to work with many master blacksmiths, plus many apprentices and the master sharpeners work under the same roof. If you want to learn, learn from many; you will have a broad base to build your skills. Perhaps not surprising, Takefu Knife Village has been incredibly good at recruiting new talent and eager apprentices—something that, in my opinion, has saved the Takefu knife industry and is preparing it for a strong future.