July 14, 2021 2 min read
The beautiful island of Fukue is a part of the Goto Islands, and is famous for its nature, seafood, Tsubaki (Camellia) oil and unique udon noodles. Fukue Island is located just off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture, and it is where Haruki Miyazaki-san has decided to set up his workshop. We are very excited to be carrying his knives as part of our Small Makers Series.
Haruki Miyazaki-san, born in 1985, grew up on this beautiful island. Like most Japanese teenagers, he did not know anything about blacksmithing culture until his father taught him the history of steel-forging in Japan. He learned there were blacksmiths in every small town and village that helped the folks in their area with their steel-related needs. As farming was the main industry in Japan for centuries, the blacksmith was an essential part of the local community. More recently, modern technology has started to take over many of these traditional crafts. Japan saw a significant decrease in the number of blacksmith shops that operated across the country. Learning about this history from his father, young Miyazaki-san quickly grew interested in becoming a blacksmith.
He was swift to act, too. After graduating from high school, he travelled worldwide and sought a mentor from whom he could learn. He found a blacksmith, Toshio Ooba, in the city of Fukuoka. Ooba-san is a third-generation blacksmith famous for making a particular knife shape called “Hakata Bocho”. Hataka Bocho is a bunka-shaped knife that is very popular in the region of Hakata.
Miyazaki-san with his teacher, Toshio Ooba-san.
Ooba-san was not interested in taking any apprentices, but in classic hero movie fashion, Miyazaki-san’s enthusiasm moved Ooba-san, and he reconsidered his stance. Miyazaki-san finally started his apprenticeship, which lasted 5 years. Miyazaki-san learned all of the basic blacksmithing skills during his apprenticeship and returned to his home island, where he opened his own workshop. He continued travelling throughout Japan, picking up and mastering new skills from other blacksmiths and knife makers on his travels. One notable person he learned from was Yukinori Shirataka, a well-respected older master famous for forging blades out of recycled iron nails.
Now, 13 years later, Miyazaki-san’s ever-growing interest and enthusiasm for knife making keeps him pushing forward and taking on new challenges. He has been making the same shape of knife for years until very recently when he started forging other shapes, such as Gyutos. We were fortunate enough to work closely with him and developed some shapes that he has never made before, like the 210mm Hakata and Nakiri.
Miyazaki-san's wrought iron-clad (bottom) and stainless-clad (top) series.
Pretty sexy, right?
We’re super proud to be carrying knives from such an adventurous, considerate, and talented blacksmith. We’re currently stocking a wrought iron-clad Aogami Hakata Bunka from Miyazaki-san, and a stunning line of blue carbon steel knives, clad in stainless steel. Like all young blacksmiths, we can’t wait to see where he does in the future. When we asked what he looks for every day after work, he smiled and told us that he always looks forward to seeing his kids smile. How adorable is that?
Naoto came to Canada in 2007 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 the 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 Cultural Ambassador bridging Japan and Canada. You can also see him in SpringHammer looking cool and holding it all together.