Carter Cutlery Newsletter - August 5th, 2013 Sent Monday, August 5, 2013
Carter Cutlery August Newsletter - August 5th, 2013

August 5th, 2013 Newsletter

Carter Cutlery

ello everyone!

With so much information to give you we'll try our best to keep it to the point! First and foremost, my recent trip to Japan was a resounding success. The following is a brief report:

I set out for Japan on July 4th. I flew via Los Angeles, but concluded after this trip that even though more expensive, direct flights from Portland would be the preferred way to fly in the future. The connection and wasted time add too much burden to the international traveller.

The day after I arrived in Tokyo, my family and relatives set out for a famous tourist destination by train; Hakone Hot Springs. Besides soaking in the hot baths three times in less than twelve hours, there are many other things to do in Hakone such as ride a cable car to the top of a live volcanic mountain, visit several different modern art museums and taste regional cuisine. Returning to Tokyo we got the front row seats on the "Romance Car" train and watched Japan roll by through large windows in the front of the train. It was an unusual and awesome experience.

I then set out for Matsumoto City Nagano Prefecture where I met up with my teacher, 16th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith, Yasuyuki Sakemoto.

It was a great reunion and we talked for several hours and caught up on each other's news. Mr. Sakemoto was glad to hear all that we are doing at Carter Cutlery and I was happy to get his continued blessings on our projects. He has decided to come visit North America for the first time around next June. We will announce his arrival ahead of time so that we can throw him a welcome party at the Carter Cutlery shop in Hillsboro. Mr. Sakemoto showed me a very old part of town in Matsumoto, where Samurai movies and the like are filmed, where me and my tour guests will stay for a night during our upcoming trip in October. The Inn we will stay at is one of the finest traditional inns in Japan.
Murray Carter and Master Sakemoto

From Nagano I drove my rental car to Sanjo City in Niigata Prefecture. Sanjo is a major center for steel tools as well as metal smithing of all kinds, also including several famous bladesmiths. There I visited with Mr. Hinoura, a famous Japanese Nata bladesmith and was treated to dinner at one of Sanjo's finest traditional restaurants. The ladies in their kimonos were simply charming and the food exquisite. I promised to bring the tour group back again to that restaurant in October.

In Sanjo I also visited the local crafts museum which has a wonderful static display of the local products and a fantastic video presentation in English which, among other things, features Mr. Hinoura's work. From there I visited Sanjo Kaji Dojo, or Sanjo Smithing School, which has eight forges for students and  visitors to try their hand at forging traditional Japanese nails. This will also be a destination for the tour group in October. Hand sharpening with stones is another class they teach there.

From Sanjo I drove to Takefu City in Fukui Prefecture. This was the longest leg of my journey at about 400 kms long. In Takefu I visited a long-time friend Takeshi Saji, who is one of Japan's most prolific Japanese style knife maker. He and his five employees produce about 8000 knives a year.  I had a lovely dinner with Mr. Saji and plan to head back to the same restaurant in October to sample the delicious Daikon radish salad they served there.

The next day I visited the Takefu Knife Village. It is a cool combination of live bladesmithing with museum and shop/gallery. From the gallery visitors can walk on a cat walk overseeing the bladesmiths below at work; forging, heat-treating, grinding and finished the blades. Mr. Saji had phoned ahead of my arrival and I was met with VIP status. When taken out to the shop floor to meet the bladesmiths, Mr. Katoh, a 72 year old veteran, allowed me to forge a kitchen knife in his forge. Once he saw my proficiency (I do this all the time, right!) he insisted I finish the remaining five blades so that he could go take a break! Naturally, all the Japanese people in the vicinity had to come watch the gaijin forge blades, and much to their chagrin, there was no room for constructive criticism! I'm just lucky it was something that I am very used to doing and wasn't a task outside of my expertise. Anyway, the conversation that ensued over a coffee break was invigorating, and the staff at Takefu Knife Village is excited for me and the tour group to visit again in October.

After the Knife Village, I visited Takefu Specialty Steel Company, where they specialize in laminating metals. This company has been operating for 60 years. I had a wonderful meeting with the family members who now run the business as well as one of the steel technicians who has worked there for nearly 45 years, and then got a special tour of the factory. The huge billets of layered steel coming freshly out of the roaring hot furnaces, to be forced through giant rollers in the laminating process was a sight to behold. From many feet away you could feel the heat radiating from the red-hot steel. I was like a kid in a candy shop and although I have never used any of their steel, we talked about that possibility and also of potential partnerships in the future. That evening was punctuated by another meal of delicacies, a treat of the company boss. He insisted I bring the group again in October, not only for the factory tour, but for dinner as well!

From Takefu I realized I had been moving so quickly that I had an extra day on my hands, so I zipped over to Seki City, Gifu Prefecture. Seki is where the biggest Annual knife show is held in Japan, the second weekend in October. There I visited with many friends in the cutlery industry and established free accommodations in a traditional Japanese house for my group in October. We will be personal

guests of the owner of Japan's biggest knife factory; G. Sakai. Past guests to Japan will recognize the name of Yuhei Sakai; the most dynamic man with a big heart combined with  fearsome scolding. For the past 20 years Mr. Sakai has treated me as a son, complete with constant scolding about how I should act and what I should be doing. Underneath his outward show of emotions (very rare in Japan), he is a very kind and thoughtful person. He brags me up to others, and then looks directly at me and scolds me for not being better...with such predictability my guests will find it amusing! Knowing what is at the heart of this attention, I personally love it and take all the scolding in stride. I know Mr. Sakai has never met a gaijin like me before and misses me when I'm gone!
Members from our 2010 Japan Tour with Yuhei Sakai, seated to the right of Murray and Ichiro Hattori seated to the left

From Seki I travelled to Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. There I had a heart-felt reunion with Kenichi Shiraki, the world's finest bladesmith. He just happened to be home, having elected to not accompany his wife and kids for the afternoon shopping. We chatted for hours and then discussed the possibility of him visiting the US. He detests flying commercially, but loves aviation and airshows. When I told him about the Hillsboro International Air Show and that I fly both Cessnas and helicopters, he decided he would try to come visit in the next few years. I sure hope he comes and will let everybody know well in advance if he does for a grand welcome party. Wouldn't it be swell if he would agree to give a demonstration of his work using my forge and power hammer! What an open house event that would be. In the meantime, he kindly agreed to have our tour group come for a forging demo in October if we wish to work that into our schedule.

From Sakai I travelled to Miki City, Hyogo Prefecture. There I visited Sanyo Riki Coorporation, the company that laminates my special 410 stainless and Hitachi White steel combo. This company has been the leader in the industry for 90 years, and has been working with Carter Cutlery for about 22 years. This was the first time I had visited the factory though, and once again I got to see blazing hot billets of steel go through a series of rollers, and Christmas time had come to this young boy twice now in less than a week!

Kenichi Shiraki, Japan's Finest Bladesmith
After several hours of both light and serious discussion, followed by a treat of cold soba buckwheat noodles at the local famous restaurant, I was on my way back to Osaka to meet up with my family, with close to 400 pounds of freshly hot rolled steel in the back of my car. It felt better than gold, and while driving my mind was full of the knives that I will forge from that steel.

The rest of the trip was full of visits with old friends and acquaintances where I was able to solidify relations and express my gratitude and appreciation for their friendship.

It was a marvelous trip, despite the heat and super high humidity, and I greatly look forward to guiding my tour guests in October when the weather will be better to most of the places I visited on this trip.

Japan Tour 2013

This year Murray and four guests will travel around Japan learning the intricacies of local cutlery production, and for any North American/European knife enthusiast, this is a rare glimpse into the heart of the Japanese knife industry that is sure to be the trip of a lifetime!

If you'd like to attend next year's Tour of Japan, October 2014, contact Murray at to discuss travel arrangements. Seating is limited to four (4) persons. A reservation deposit of $1500 is requested. 

Shop News

Upon Murray's return back the shop has been incredibly busy finishing production on various models. We have numerous High Grade, Stainless Fukugozai Riveted Handle, International Pro Kitchen Knives and Neck Knives that will be completed intermittently over the period of August, so be sure to subscribe to our New Product alerts to be notified once they're available.

Speaking of new designs, have you purchased your copy of Murray's second book, 101 Knife Designs? Purchase it directly from Carter Cutlery and have it personally signed by the author!

YouTube News

In keeping with what you've come to expect from Carter Cutlery, we raised the bar once more by attempting something never filmed before:

  • What is "Traditional Japanese" Bladesmithing? - Murray Carter, 17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith and the world's only "Gaijin Japanese Bladesmith", defines what "Traditional Japanese" bladesmithing means to someone who lived and studied in Japan for 18 years as a rural bladesmith.
  • Sharpening and shaving with a knife, blindfolded - This demonstration of skill is the perfect example as to why Murray is such a huge proponent of teaching and giving you the necessary 'software' needed to sharpen anything, as opposed to simply offering jigs or devices that do the work instead (you hope). If you enjoyed the video, please share it with your friend -- we're sure they've never seen anything like it before!
Additional videos:
  • Sword Forging - We compiled and composed sword forging footage from the six-day class mentioned in our May Newsletter. In May Murray hosted a six-day class in which he taught a student how to use the power hammer to forge a sword. 
  • Open House Testimonials - Attendees to our weekly Open House events take the opportunity to tell you what they think of the demonstrations. 
Thank you once again for a wonderful month, we're honored to be able to serve you and your cutlery needs.

Stay sharp!


Murray Carter & the Carter Cutlery Staff
ABS Master Bladesmith
We will give a free hand-forged kitchen knife and complete media package, a value of over $400, to any lucky person who registers for the 2014 Japan Trip in the next seven days. Call 503-466-1331 or email Murray at

How we can help you:
Japanese Kitchen Cutlery
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Hand Forged Neck Knives
"My neck knives offer superior advantages over most others."

Outdoor Knives
High-performance outdoor tools for any task

Bladesmithing Classes
Learn knifemaking from the master bladesmith

Instructional Videos
Increase your sharpening and knife skills!

Annual Japan Cutlery Tour
Tour with Murray has he takes you on a cutlery cultural tour of a lifetime!

Recommended Videos
Sharpening and Shaving -- Blindfolded!
Murray attempts something that you have never seen before.

Murray Carter - Sword Forging
Murray demonstrates forging of a sword using a power hammer!

Carter Cutlery Open House Testimonials
Hear what our guests have to say after attending an Open House event

Learn more about Carter Cutlery:
"Your source for high-performance cutlery"

Carter Cutlery on YouTube
Hours of educational and entertaining videos produced in-house

Carter Cutlery on Facebook
See a more personal side of Carter Cutlery

Bladesmithing with Murray Carter
The best book written about traditional Japanese bladesmithing. A great textbook for beginner bladesmiths and must for any Carter Cutlery fan.

101 Knife Designs
Join mastersmith Murray Carter as he reveals the successful traits of knife designs that have lasted throughout history.

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