A bit of a news from Takefu Knife Villege. Five of their makers recently gained the prestigious “Dentokogeshi” (伝統工芸士) title, the highest government award recognizing he skill of a traditional craftsman.
The recipients are: Yu Kurosaki (黒﨑優, born 1979, blacksmith), Yoshihiro Yauji (弥氏良寛, born 1983, blacksmith), Yuji Totani（戸谷祐次, born 1976, sharpener）, Masao Toma (當間正朗, born 1970, blacksmith), Nao Yamamoto (山本直, born 1979, blacksmith).
There is a Youtube video clip about the ceremony, showing the secretary of Takefu Knife Villeage, master Shiro Kamo being the host and passed the recipients their certificates. Later each of the recipients gave their thoughts about the recognition.
These gentlemen all work at the Takeful Knife Village so naturally they work on either knives or tools, and here is a brief bibliography of the recipients.
Kurosaki: Kurosaki use to work under the famous Takefu masters like Hiroshi Kato and Takeshi Saji. He is arguably one of the hottest knife maker in Takefu right now, and widely considered as the best in his generation. Kurosaki now operates his own knife making house: Kurosaki Hamono. Kurosaki is a long time friend of mine and I am really proud to offer his work at Knives and Stones.
Yauji: long term apprentice of master Hideo Kitaoka, Yauji is one of the few blacksmith in Takeful village that is specialize in single bevel knives. His blue 2 damscus is unique and elegant. Yauji also works with Knives and Stones in some of our single bevels.
Yamamoto : Nao Yamamoto succeed his master Masami Azai (who passed away too early in 2014). A regular attendee of the Saki Knife Show, Yamamoto makes great double bevel kitchen knives.
Totani: works for Totani Sharpening, which does all sorts of sharpening job, including single bevel, double bevel kitchen knives, scissors, woodworking tools and machine cutters.
Toma: Toma is probably not a very familar name to the knife community as their workshop mainly focus on making kiridashis, scissors and sickles.
It is great to see that Takefu Knife Villege has a lot of young smith coming online in recent years, some of time are already world famous. Knife making is a tough career, as it is kinda repetitive and physically very demanding, and the industry as a whole suffers skill shortage. Another knife making center: Sakai is experiencing a lot of skill shortage right now as the older generation is gradually retired while the younger generation are not able to keep up just yet. With the Japanese kitchen knives now widely accepted worldwide, it is really good to see the young generation of knife makers in Takefu now taking the center stage.