About Japanese Knives that we carry
Many people are confused or dissuaded from carbon steel when they see rusty or discolored knives in the kitchen. In reality, however, a discolored or rusty knife is only a testament to the owner's poor maintenance habits, and definitely NOT a testament to the knife's quality! Actually, from a certain perspective, it is beneficial that carbon is prone to discolor with poor handling and maintenance. It gives you the opportunity to determine how effective you, or your students, are at caring for their cutlery. Bonus!!
After working in the kitchen for over 10 years, I know how miserable it is to work with a bad knife, which is why I only carry knives that I would use myself! My search for the best knife began when I first graduated as a chef and finally had more money to get some better tools than I had in my current kitchen. This is when I discovered Carbon steel. I was amazed at how sharp carbon knives could be, and how easy they were to sharpen. This then led me to many synthetic sharpening stones, and finally to Japanese natural stones, but that is another story! ;)
Carbon knives are as easy to use, sharpen, and maintain as any SS knife. The only requirement is to regularly clean your knife and wipe it dry. This simple yet highly effective task can help keep your high-quality carbon knives looking and working their best. It is true that carbon knives will develop a dark “patina” over time. This is often mistaken for corrosion, but in reality, this patina will actually protect the blade from rust. Patinas come in many forms, from forced to naturally developing, and all of them are unique. I believe a dark patina is beautiful, and helps develop personal memories with your tools! Even some of our semi stainless knives (SKD/SLD) will develop a patina, but not rust.
In general, Japanese handmade knives are very RARE now because even in Japan, modernization is taking hold everywhere. Small villages, where knives were once made completely by hand, are starting to get machinery to do most of the labor. Some manufacturers are even outsourcing their manufacturing processes to big cities in Japan, and even to China, where knives are produced in large quantities, by several people. None of these workers are master blacksmiths!!! Small blacksmiths have an increasingly difficult time now, and many of them are very old and without a new generation to take over. This has indeed become a dying art form, so it is a rare opportunity for us to still get some of their knives.
We, at JNS, are committed to supporting these small blacksmiths that still hand-make all their own knives, one at a time. These blacksmiths are masters who come from a long generational line, and still use the most traditional methods imaginable. The knives I choose to carry are completely handmade in Sanjo and Niigata, Japan, and have been heavily tested and proven to be some of the best knives around. They are designed by JNS in conjunction with the individual blacksmiths. Importantly, we do not sell any stock knives. Most were ordered several months ago, except for the Shigefusa, which were ordered 6-12 months ago. So please note, that if you would like to custom order a Shigefusa, there is a considerable wait time…but they are well worth it. ;)
Also, when you buy a Japanese knife from us, you will notice that they are MUCH thinner and lighter than western knives, and have a very delicate edge that cuts like a laser. This is a completely different cutting experience than German knives, which are mass produced by stamping soft stainless steel. So, you must learn to maintain your new Japanese Cutlery properly. This way, you will not only be buying a tool, but also a piece of Japanese history, and a piece of art that contains the soul and spirit of the blacksmith who made it. This is something you then get a lifetime of use from and then pass down to your children, or grandchildren.
JNS, Maksim Enevoldsen