Yamawaki Cutlery is located in the city of Sakai, home of the world-renowned handcrafted Japanese steel knives. Located along the Osaka Bay, Sakai once was a humble fishing village, which eventually flourished through trade to be one of the most important seaports of Japan.
The city is brimming with rich history which can be observed through the shrines, temples, and ancient tombs located throughout Sakai. Curious visitors can go to the Sakai City Museum to learn more about local history and art.
The ancient tombs, called the “Kofun” burial mounds, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are famous for their unique keyhole shaped burial mound which is surrounded by a large moat. Throughout Sakai, there are a total of 44 of these megalithic tombs, the largest of which is the tomb of Emperor Nintoku which measures approximately 470,000 square meters.
The tradition of Sakai’s handcrafted steel knives are a byproduct of this unique local history and foreign trade.
A Tradition Born Out of Local History and Foreign Trade
The earliest evidence of metalworking in Sakai dates back to the 5th century with the construction of the Kofun burial mounds. Local blacksmiths were summoned to create tools to excavate large amounts of dirt to create the tombs. These tools were no more than simple plows made of curved metal, but it marked a humble beginning of a local craft.
Fast forward to the mid-1500s, the metalworking tradition in Sakai as we know it today began when the Portuguese introduced tobacco to Sakai. Before the tobacco leaves could be smoked, it had to be processed by finely mincing it up with a sharp knife - a challenge that local craftsmen willingly took up, honing their skills in the process. From tobacco knives evolved samurai swords and then eventually, culinary knives.
Since 1927, Yamawaki Cutlery has been producing knives for the home and culinary schools.
Combining Tradition and Cutting-Edge Technology
The typical production process of Sakai’s knives involve different craftsmen who specialize in a particular task. The blacksmiths specialize in forging the blades, the knife sharpeners specialize in sharpening and polishing the knives and at the final step, the wholesalers attach the handle.
However, Yamawaki Cutlery was the first to set-up an in-house sharpening department. This means that both the forging and sharpening of knives are done in their own factory which allows them to produce knives which are unparalleled in sharpness and quality. They are dedicated to preserving traditional techniques as well as developing new manufacturing methods utilizing modern technology to pass the local craft to the next generation.
Their flagship brand, named after a swordsmith from the Kamakura period, Goh Umanosuke Yoshihiro, has received high praise and acclaim internationally.
Yamawaki Cutlery's Promise to You
With the motto “Knife is Life” at the heart of their production process, Yamawaki Cutlery takes great pride in their products as they strive to create the highest-quality knives. They devote their time and expertise to hone their forging, sharpening and handle-attaching skills. While respecting and preserving the traditional local craft with a long history, Yamawaki Cutlery continues to explore ways to refine their craftsmanship.
As a future vision, Yamawaki Cutlery aims to produce knives to provide a quality culinary experience that transcends time and borders.
2014 Certified as a guild member of Sakai (Sakai Chamber of Commerce and Industry)