Nice to meet you!
I'm Hiroyuki Tazawa, Founder and CEO of Yoshimune Knives.
We are a Kyoto-based store established in March 2020 in collaboration with a Japanese maker of knives forged with traditional blacksmith techniques. We offer a wide selection of Kuro-Uchi kitchen knives at affordable factory-direct prices.
Keep reading to learn why I started Yoshimune Knives and what we stand for.
Discovering Traditional Japanese Knifemaking
Based on traditional forging techniques used to create samurai swords, Tosa's free-forging technique has a history of four centuries. Today, most forged Japanese knife blades come from Tosa.
I was initially a complete outsider. One day, by chance, I had the opportunity to work with the knife maker that later became our store's partner. Based in Tosa, it had been in business for over 100 years.
Visiting their facilities, I saw first-hand how grueling the work of a blacksmith is. Perfecting their craft is a life-long pursuit and few receive the public recognition they deserve. Many of them work as subcontractors and struggle to make ends meet.
An Art Worth Saving
The Japanese market for kitchen knives is slowly shrinking as our population declines. Young people are reluctant to embark on the hard life path of being a blacksmith. Thus, aging masters are retiring without the opportunity to pass on their expertise to the next generation.
If these trends continue, traditional Japanese knife forging techniques could be lost. I wondered if there was anything I could do to help preserve this valuable traditional Japanese forging technique.
New Hopes, New Opportunities
Having worked overseas for a long time, I realized that I could use my experience to save this great art.
I worked with the Tosa-based knife maker to create overseas sales channels. Meanwhile, direct sales expanded in Japan, mainly to foreign tourists, whose numbers had been increasing yearly. In 2019, we were approached about opening a store in Western Japan.
I never dreamed of opening a store. However, my passion to preserve and grow Japan's traditional knifemaking methods compelled me to move forward with opening a space in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital.
Of course, COVID caused a huge drop in visitors from abroad, but interest in traditional Japanese knives from around the world has never been stronger, so we opened this online store in 2021.
Initially, I became interested in kitchen knives because of my hobby of cooking fish I caught by myself. I learned that food tastes better if it is cut with a sharp knife. Our customers, who range from regular folks all the way to world-renowned chefs, share this sentiment.
We are constantly receiving comments such as:
- "These knives are so sharp, they don't merely cut — they split!"
- "Just one cut resulted in the most beautiful cross-section I had ever seen!"
- "I no longer worry about rust since I started using Tosa knives!"
The incredible sharpness, rust resistance, and beauty of traditionally forged Japanese kitchen knives are the result of master blacksmiths whose art must be preserved for future generations.
It is our sincere hope that people around the world get the opportunity to experience what it's like to cook with these legendary knives.