My relationship with the Japanese cutlery industry started when I was 18 years old.
Those in the Japanese knife industry have had the opportunity to observee my trials and tribulations for more than a quarter of a century. They have seen me struggle, weep, persevere, achieve and prosper over that time. Even after moving back to North America, after living in Japan for 18 years, my colleagues have followed my progress through the Japanese cutlery media.
Since 1995, the domestic cutlery market in Japan has seen a major recession. Many Japanese blade manufacturers and well as individual artisans started looking to the West to discover new markets for their blades. However, language barriers, the fast-changing internet marketing, and difficulty in finding trustworthy and reliable American partners kept many Japanese craftsman from being able to enter the Western market. During my last four trips to Japan, various cutlers were continually asking me if I would represent their work through Carter Cutlery. This was a great honor for me, and the decision had to be considered very seriously.
Through long deliberation and seeking wise counsel from my teacher and respected members of the community, I reached a decision. I would represent only the finest specimens of any genre of products, and not carry "bargain" brands or anything that would compromise Carter Cutlery's reputation of excellence.
The following were the criteria that had to be met before I would even consider the product:
• I had to personally know the artisan behind the product and know the philosophy behind the work. Only perfectionists and those driven by strong ethics would be considered
• I had to be able to visit their workshop and personally see how their products were made. If their methods didn't jibe with my sense of superior metallurgy, then I wouldn't consider them.
• I had to have the confidence I understand their product well enough that I can fully service, sharpen or refurbish it after selling it.
• I had to have a reasonable belief that the artisan was going to continue making more products for as long as possible
Having met those criteria, I now introduce to you "iiZa" Echizen Brand, "Shiro" Brand and work from individual Japanese custom knifemakers.