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  • Blacksmith Profile: Satoshi Nakagawa

    August 02, 2023 3 min read

    Blacksmith Profile: Satoshi Nakagawa

    Satoshi Nakagawa is a super-talented, relatively young hotshot blacksmith working in the Sakai area. At the moment, he’s one of the most popular makers among knife nerds and collectors, and for good reason: he’s incredibly talented and is making some of the coolest blades coming out of Japan right now.

    From a young age, Nakagawa-san was fascinated with blacksmithing. At age eighteen, he began training under the legendary master Kenichi Shiraki. He apprenticed for 16 years, even running the workshop for several years when his master fell ill. In that time, he learned an incredible amount and developed a strong foundation of skills to build on. Once his master retired, Nakagawa-san took the reins and founded Nakagawa Uchihamono in 2021. He immediately began producing masterpieces under his own name.

    Boy, has Nakagawa-san got RANGE! He’s like the Daniel Day-Lewis of knifemaking, able to forge nearly any steel under the sun: White carbon #1, #2, #3, Blue carbon steel #1, #2, Ginsan stainless steel and VG10 stainless steel. If that somehow weren’t enough, he also forges honyaki blades, traditional knives made from a single piece of steel. Normally, a single piece of steel would be too hard and brittle, so the blacksmith paints several layers of clay on the spine before heat-treating. This causes the spine of the knife to cool more slowly than the edge, a technique known as differential heat treatment in the West. In plain English, these knives are hard at the edge for amazing sharpness and edge retention but soft at the spine to absorb shock. Genius! You also get a gorgeous wavy pattern where the two steels meet called a hamon, and blacksmiths like Nakagawa-san can make some pretty wild hamon patterns. 

    So why don’t you see more blacksmiths using this fancy technique? Well, Honyaki blades are exceedingly difficult to make, and only a handful of blacksmiths can do it right. That differential heat-treating process that makes them so awesome also has a super high failure rate, and many blades are lost in the process. Most blacksmiths have a success rate of about 30%, but Nakagawa-san has somehow pushed his success rate to 90%! That’s insane, I don’t think we’ve ever met a maker that skilled when it comes to crafting honyaki blades. He can even forge the legendary Mizu-honyaki, one-piece blades quenched in water, a feat only a few people in Japan can perform. If he’s doing this kind of work in his 30s, I can’t imagine where he’ll go in the coming decades.

    In addition to these incredible honyaki knives, he also forges a lot of other cool stuff. He can make both single and double-bevel knives, another feat that’s relatively uncommon among Japanese blacksmiths. For his single-bevel blades, he even forge-welds his own steel! Is there anything he can’t do? His damascus blade are works of art, expertly forged and beautifully sharpened and polished by Naohito Myojin. 

    As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, Satoshi Nakagawa moved FAST when he works. Watching him forge is almost hypnotic, and he honestly reminds me of a skilled line cook. Each movement is precise and intentional, repeating the exact same motions with each blade, meaning that he’s super consistent. His workshop also shocked me by just how clean it is - I’m used to forges with a solid layer of dust and ash everywhere, tools and debris scattered about. Not so with Nakagawa-san; he cleans and organizes his station after each forging session, leaving it in the exact same shape he found it. It’s been a few months since we visited him, and I’m still kind of awestruck by everything I saw on our visit. We’re honoured to be carrying a variety of blades from Nakagawa-san, and I’m excited to see what he produces in the future!

       Naoto Fujimoto
    Naoto Fujimoto

    Naoto came to Canada several years ago and we aren't letting him go back. After getting angry with his roommate's dull knives, he started to dream of sharp Japanese knives. Naoto graduated from University of Calgary with a bachelor degree of art, majoring International Relations and finds that selling Japanese knives is his own way of doing international relations. Naoto is our Head of Shipping and receiving. You can also see him in SpringHammer looking cool and holding it all together.

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