January 15, 2020 3 min read
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 Avengers, 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.
Yoshimi Kato is the son-in-law of Hiroshi Kato, the man who originally made some of our most popular Masakage lines. The torch has been passed and Yoshimi-san has stepped up to fill some big shoes and take over those lines. Yoshimi-san first apprenticed at Kanehiro Hamono and then apprenticed under the guidance of Hiroshi-san, who has also taught amazing blacksmiths like Yu Kurosaki. The transition has been seamless. He tells us he strives to continuously improve his skill day by day. We look forward to working with the next generation Kato for many years to come!
“Iron is alive; it can live or die depending on the blacksmith.”, says Anyru-san. That’s pretty heavy stuff, but it's not surprising that he'd have deep insights in his trade 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 to blacksmithing.
It’s best to think of Kurosaki-san as an Anakin Skywalker of sorts, he’s incredibly talented and half the age of 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.
Hailing from Takefu Village, Takeshi Saji started learning to work the forge under his father in 1966. The full successor to his master father at the age of 30, he is a third generation blacksmith. He continuously strives make each blade better than his last. All Masakage Knives are handmade in Japan by blacksmiths chosen for their excellence. Shibata-san, Hiroshima’s top knife sharpener, selects and design these knives. All Masakage knives are hand sharpened by Shibata-san with his unique technique of using a different grit on each side of the blade. This gives a smooth, sharp edge that stays sharp longer than standard sharpening.
Another one of the younger guys in the group, Shibata-san is the President of Masakage Knives and is arguably Japan’s best knife sharpener. He oversees the sharpening of every single Masakage knife! That’s unreal, it's like saying that David Chang personally seasons every bowl of noodles leaving his kitchens, except this is true.
Chris is a relocated Maritimer that can be found slinking in and out the back doors of Ottawa's restaurants, often with his daughter in tow. Chris has been a fixture in the Ottawa food scene for the past 10 years and has recently laid down his apron to learn the ways of Knifewear. Chris loves cooking big pieces of meat over a live fire and spends his summer feeding wood into his BBQ, Lemmy Smoke-mister.
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