August 30, 2022 2 min read
The Hinoura name is well known in the world of Japanese knives, and they enjoy a considerable reputation in Echigo as they have done a great deal to advance the knife maker’s art in Sanjo.
A province in the northern part of central Japan, Echigo is by no means just another knife-making region. There, the art of forging looks back on 700 years of tradition. The city of Sanjo is situated in this province, in today’s Niigata prefecture. This is where the Hinoura family has been practicing the blade-making trade for four generations.
Mutsumi Hinoura is the son of renowned blacksmith Tsukasa Hinoura. Born in 1981, he is already a promising prospect to become one of Japan’s best knife makers. Since beginning his career, he studied with his father and is the 4th generation to carry on the family craft. In 2001 he graduated from Niigata College of Engineering. From there, he began his career as a blacksmith, honing his craft to produce blades with traditional style and modern performance. Mutsumi-san continues to work under the family brand, Ajikataya (味方屋), specializing in traditional bladed tools, including hatchets and hunting knives. His recent foray into kitchen knives has produced some stunning blades, and we can't wait to see where his career takes him. Despite using an oversized, super-powered springhammer designed for forging axes & farm tools, both father and son operate it with expert grace.
Mutsumi-san’s father, Tsukasa Hinoura, born in 1956, began practicing his trade in 1975. His blades are known for a refined and long-lived edge and are highly sought after in by knife collectors across the globe. Hinoura-san represents the third generation of his family‘s forging tradition. His most famous work is his River Jump series, hand-folded and twisted into an ornate candy cane pattern. He spends an absurd amount of time grinding, sharpening, and polishing these blades by hand, not releasing them into the wild until they are as perfect as can be. This has made his work highly sought after, and while Tsukasa-san currently casts a big shadow, Mutsumi-san is quickly levelling up his skills. While still something of a newcomer to the world of kitchen knives, we know Mutsumi-san’s name will one day stand just as tall as his father’s.
Mutsumi-san's work is understated, yet incredible.
Mutsumi-san's knives are deceptively simple at first but reveal his talent upon closer inspection. While the blade is quite hefty with a thick spine and body, it tapers down at the edge beautifully. This construction allows it to cut very smoothly without becoming too delicate. He follows in his father’s footsteps by working with traditional high-carbon steel known as shirogami. While this steel can rust easily, it sharpens easily and takes an edge that would put Wolverine’s adamantium claws to shame. The octagon olive wood handle is an elegant highlight that elevates this knife to something truly special.
Mutsumi-san will be one to watch in the coming decades. You’d chosen wisely to get one of his knives early in his career, as his work will likely be as renowned as his father’s one day.
Nathan started at Knifewear in 2013, when he left the restaurant industry to slang knives. Nowadays, he handles our communications, social media, and YouTube channel. If you're reading words on this website or watching one of our videos, Nathan was involved. He spends his spare time growing food, cooking, fermenting food and booze, and enjoying the great outdoors.
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