Miki Specialty Hardware Store and Tanaka Workshop

Miki Specialty Hardware Store and Tanaka Workshop

Posted by James Zhang on 30th Oct 2019

It is been a while since my last visit to Tanaka so we visited Miki the second day.

Miki Specialty Hardware

Miki is in Hyogo prefecture, north of Kobe and quite close to Osaka, roughly about 1 hour of driving. Before I talk about Tanaka, I have to mention the cool hardware shop in Miki that sells a lot of locally made tools obscure staff. This shop is conveniently named “Miki Specialty Hardware” (三木特産金物店).

There use two be two of the same shops in Miki however one was closed a few years back. While it is called “hardware shop”, it literally sells everything made in Miki. From the usual hardware like hammer, saws, screw drivers, to woodworking tools like kanna (Japanese wooden planes), genos (Japanese forged hammers, and you have to install the handle yourself). There are 2nd hand tools, antiques and things made out of Tamahagane.

(The local hardware shop at Miki has all sorts of gadgets for a handyman)

 

(Stones corner, I LOVE how all the descriptions are handwritten by the store owner, luckily I can read Kanji :D)

 

(Kantana as well, with a Takeda Shingen poster at the background)

 

(The sign reads “Excellence Award by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Showa 45 (1970), and the red circle are some second hand hammers)

Of course there are knives, in fact many varieties. First there are lots of different types of Higonomaki since they are Miki specialties; there are also a lot of kitchen knives, many are from local makers not known to the outside world.

There are also knives by Takeshi Saji and even Ajikatya by Hinoura.

(This cool looking Damascus hunter costs about $US180)

While I didn’t buy anything, I always find this place super interesting and if it wasn’t that we have to visit Tanaka, I’d love to spend a few hours here checking out the 2nd hand section. The address of the store is here: 1921-1 Fukui Miki, Hyogo 673-0433 (三木市福井1921-1)

Website: http://www.kiremono.com/

Shigeki Tanaka

(Giant knife hanging on the wall at Tanaka's workshop in Miki)

It feels layback and casual to visit Tanaka. Upon arriving at Tanaka’s workshop, there is this familiar Kaki (Persimmon) tree planted by late Kazuyuki-san. I a few years ago I used the hard, immature fruit to perform the cutting test with Shigeki himself, and that moment was the birth of the K&S Tanaka line.  

Timing is good this time around, as it has just entered the autumn harvest period, and a few of the fruit are mature. I had my lucky treat :D

(Juicy and sweet persimmon tree in front of Tanaka’s workshop)

My partner Kyo casually called Shigeki that we have arrived, he told us to go to his house close by. There, he showed us a prototype of single bevel fish knife which is made of blue 2 steel and old wrought iron (instead of normal iron). I have long asked to try something like this because I just LOVE the rustic effect from the wrought iron, particularly those charming clouds and imperfections, it just grows on me. Yes, while this is a small knife, I am sure there will be longer Yanagiba and maybe Deba to come. K&S of course will be the one to carry them

(Prototype of the wrought iron single bevel fish knife)

Shigeki also gave us a short demo of forging the wrought iron with hagane (steel) and explained that due to the unevenness of the wrought iron (each batch has different property, some harder, some softer and with different shrinkage rate), the failure rate is quite a bit higher than normal.

 (Shigeki Tanaka forging the wrought iron prototype knife for Knives and Stones)

 (Another year!)

Bottom line

Located in Miki, which is traditional a woodworking and farming tool making centre, Tanaka's knife is rustic, budget friendly yet performs extremely well. I am glad to work with Shigeki to create some of the best bang-for-the-bucks knife out there!