Masters of Tradition — The World at a Standstill
Steelmaking has been at the beating heart of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, for more than 800 years. From traditional techniques like Mokume-gane – with its distinctive layered patterns to ironworking, swordsmithing and metal casting – Japan’s metal craft techniques were evolved and refined over the centuries. We build on this legacy to keep tradition alive in a changing world. Kamikoto is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and sources its steel from select and carefully chosen steel mills on Honshu island, from the prefectures of Niigata, Ibaraki and Kanagawa, among others.
The metal industry in the Niigata prefecture dates back to the Edo period and earlier, when blacksmithing and metalworking expertise grew to cater to a demand from Tokyo and surrounding regions. Rich deposits of ore and kajigo – a fine coal used by blacksmiths – was vital to the success of foundries in the area. The Emperor’s best blacksmiths trained the local population, and this craft flourished over the years, growing into a metal industry that remains an important sector in the region to this day. Ibaraki and Kanagawa, located in the Kantō region on the main island of Honshu, are similarly celebrated for their metal and industrial prowess.
The Kamikoto Santoku — Strength and Aesthetics in Perfect Harmony
Each blade pays tribute to the centuries-old craft of knifemaking, and is handmade with precise attention and care, employing traditional skills handed down by expert knifemakers through the centuries. The Kamikoto Santoku bōchō derives its name from the “three virtues” offered by this knife: cutting, dicing and mincing. The Santoku blade is carefully balanced – and meticulously polished, a ritual that completes the blade; the final step that concludes the traditional knifesmithing process.
A Process Refined over Generations
The oldest katana were hot-drop forged – blacksmiths drew swords from a blazing furnace and painstakingly beat it into shape with a hammer. This technique strengthened the metal to exceptional hardness. In forges of this age, metal is cut, then heated to strengthen and harden the blade. Our knives are made from high quality steel from Honshu, Japan – a steel with high corrosion resistance and durability. In the forge, steel is heated up to 1050°C for two hours and annealed at 200°C for two hours. This strengthens the steel and diminishes the flexibility of the blade – to ensure the knife keeps its edge for longer. The blade stays firm when held against a whetstone. Such blades are prized because they sharpen well, and last a lifetime.
The Legendary Blade of Houchou
The Japanese word for kitchen knife – Houchou – is a word of Chinese origin and derives from the legendary Houchou or Cook Ding, a story narrated in the book Zhuangzi, one of the two foundational texts of Daoism. Houchou handled his knife so skillfully, he never once chipped his blade, and only seldom sharpened it. The earliest techniques that shaped the craft of the katana found their way to Japan through Mainland China and the Korean Peninsula in early history, and were then evolved and refined by Japanese knifemakers and swordsmiths over the centuries. Kamikoto is respectful of this shared legacy. Each knife is carefully crafted with high quality steel from Honshu, Japan. Fully versed in traditional blade-making practices, Our blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Yanjiang, China – a town with over 1,000 years of knife and sword making heritage, and today, the leading center of Japanese-style knife forging, polishing and balancing – where the Japanese legacy is preserved, and carried on, with reverence for the skill of the knifesmiths who evolved this craft centuries ago.
Keeping an Ancient Craft Alive in a Changing Age
As with many complex tasks, rather than a single craftsman, a group of dedicated artisans are involved in the making of a single knife. From the smith who forges the raw shape to an expert polisher, grinder, and a specialist who sharpens the blade to the traditional fine edge. Our knives stay true to Japan’s centuries-old legacy to make knives of exceptional quality and solemn beauty. Each knife is masterclass in skill; you feel the spirit of the craftsman flowing through the end piece. All Kamikoto knives come with certificates of authenticity – and a natural-ash wood box for safekeeping and careful preservation of the Kamikoto blade.
A Sublime Blade
Every blade is forged from high-quality Japanese steel. Kamikoto sources its steel from select steel mills on Honshu island, from the prefectures of Niigata, Ibaraki and Kanagawa, among others. We favor Japanese steel because their manufacturers demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to ensuring a given material is exactly what it says it is. Without exceptions. Taking pride in the quality of our materials and craft is an integral part of Kamikoto’s culture.