Winter is in the air and Thanksgiving is around the corner. This year has been bountiful to Carter Cutlery and it couldn't have been possible without the support of you, our loyal patrons. It's an honor to serve you and thank you for your continued support. Below you'll find out what we've been doing over the past two months. Ever since we arrived back from Japan the time has flown by with side projects, bladesmithing classes, and producing knives.
In October, after a short respite to recover from the incredible tour in Japan (read more below), Murray taught two students in a three-day Skill Builder class. Rana K. focused on two specific projects, a neck knife and a kitchen knife, while Tom P., an Apprenticeship Member, received personal sharpening instruction for two days and then forge-welded an International Pro style Nakiri for his kitchen. The knives that these students produced were incredible. Here is Rana's neck knife:
Each student left the class with the motivation (and materials) to get into the forge and put their new knowledge to practice. After the class, Murray focused his attention of producing new Neck Knives before the arrival of Branwell M., Dennis T., and William K., three new students in our Intensive six-day 500-Level Bladesmithing Course which took place on November 4th-9th. Click here to watch their experience and view their incredible results. As you will see from their work, all the students showed great aptitude and each left the class with the motivation (and materials) to get into the forge and put their new knowledge to practice. Thank you to all the students who joined us, it was an honor to teach you and we look forward to being able to provide you with more education in the future.
It's been two months and you're probably just dying to find out what happened during Murray's amazing trip to Japan in October with five guests. Below is a video compilation (YouTube) with photography by Robyn Wawn and a written dairy of the exciting trip from Ryan Swanson, co-owner DC SHARP. Enjoy!
Day 1 - Saturday: Introductions over breakfast and first meal as a group in Narita. Hit the road to Matsumoto where we check in to the oldest inn in town, the Marumo inn. This is authentic Japan. Brief tour of Matsumoto. Met Mr. Sakamoto, 16th generation Yashimoto bladesmith. Dinner with him at a sushi carousel. Visited and bathed in a 200 year old samurai bath house. Late night drinks with the group and realize we will all be getting along just fine. Murray emphatically tells me that when sharpening, you "need to thin every blade out!" Only Day one and we are all friends.
Day 2 - Sunday: A tour of Matsumoto castle, with a great tour guide Kanji. Hit the road to Sanjo on the West coast where Mr. Hinoura was having an open house. I should note the rest stops in Japan have some delicious food. Mr Hinoura focuses mainly on outdoor knives but his kitchen knives were impressive as well. Had an amazing dinner ( one of many to come) which included whale bacon, which we ate strictly for research purposes.
Day 3 - Monday: Visit Mr. Watanabe at his workshop and home. Saw him cold forging and he did some engraving for us too. Next stop was an old sickle maker who's shop was like stepping back in time. He put his heart and soul into every blade and then sells them for only $15-$20. That's what was most impressive, caring more for craft than the profit. He was as happy to meet us as we were to meet him. Another visit to Mr. Hinoura where he graciously gave us our first glimpse of forge welding blue steel onto mild steel. We met one more family of bladesmith in Sanjo where we all gathered in a tiny room, Sat on the floor, drank tea, and talked knives. The son had Murray's card from when they met ten years earlier. They also were very good at forging their blades to shape. This day was truly authentic Japan. Hit the road down to Sakai. 5 hour drive where we all got a lesson in metallurgy from Murray. We also broke the sound barrier on the road when Alexis got behind the wheel. There is nothing like a near death experience to bring the group together.
Day 4 - Tuesday: A tour of Mr. Shiraki's factory where he is busy forge welding blades. Which he has done for over 50 years. Words will do his craftsmanship no justice. This place was huge and had it all and we got the whole knifemaking process here in one stop. We each got our turn on the big grinding wheels too. Next stop was one Miss Miki, one of the few female players in the knife trade. She was a real peach and here she fitted some custom handles on some Shiraki knives we purchased by heating the tang and hammering the handle on. We had the honor of dining with Mr. Shiraki and his wife at a neighborhood restaurant. 12 courses of amazing cuisine.
Day 5 - Wednesday: Withdrawing from a bank is near impossible so bring some spending cash as it took us three attempts to get some money. You haven't experienced Japan until you've gone to a bank. Our last stop in Sakai was a small father and son handle making shop. Saw them make an octagonal handle with no guides, just from sight and feel alone. A quick stop at the Sakai knife museum where where we had an amazing tour guide. Headed north to Takefu and stopped in Kyoto along the way. Beautiful city which wasn't bombed in the war so it had an old time feel. In Takefu we had dinner with the president of Takefu specialty steel corporation Mr. Kono and his son Michiro. Again, amazing food, amazing service, meal of a lifetime. Late night karaoke after dinner. The trip keeps getting better.
Day 6 - Thursday: A trip to Takefu knife village where we see Murray forge a blade in his Sunday best clothes. Then a tour of the Takefu specialty steel company.This is where they clad steel for a number of big Japanese knife brands. Got to see the steel come out of the furnace and through the rollers. This was a serious operation so the theme of the tour was "an zen daichi" or "safety first". This is access to an operation no regular tour guide can provide. A quick drive north to Fukiu, where, yet again, the night of a lifetime.
Day 7 - Friday: Heading south now to Seki for the annual knife show. We took a random detour to a random beach and had a random swim in the Sea of Japan. This was personally one of the highlights of the trip. Arrival in Seki and we were lucky to stay I'm a house owned by Murray's good friend Mr. Sakai. A quick trip to the Seki knife museum. That night we learned how to assess a knife for the weekends big purchases.
Day 8 - Saturday: The Seki Knife Show! Booth upon booth as far as you can see of knife vendors. If your looking to buy knives, this is the place. Also saw samurai sword usage in an exhibition as well as sword forging using traditional techniques, and the samurai sword museum. This is true city wide event with everyone coming out to volunteer. Dinner was at Sekis best barbecue eel restaurant. Got to see the chef prepare the eel as well. I'll leave out the details.
Day 9 - Sunday: Our last day together. More knives at the knife show and a visit to the Gerber-Sakai museum. Where did Murray go? Packed up our things, sharpened a 15 year old carter blade, and we were off to our last stop, Tokyo. We dropped everyone off, said our farewells, and concluded the trip of a lifetime with what came to be hopefully lifelong friends.
Summation: Matsumoto, Sanjo, Sakai, Kyoto, Takefu, Fukiu, Seki, Tokyo
For anyone going on a future Carter Cutlery Japan Tour - Pack light, bring an open mind, and prepare to have the time of your life. I learned more about knives in one week with Murray than I could have in a year on my own. Worth every penny and then some. And he's not just a Master Bladesmith, he's a pretty swell guy as well.
If you are interested in the opportunity to join Murray on a Tour of Japan, please contact us at (503) 466-1331 or by email at email@example.com. Space is limited, currently we only have two positions available, so don't delay!
Thank you again for your continued support and stay sharp!
Learn From Murray Carter
Want to join the elite number of students who have had the opportunity to train under Murray Carter? Now is the perfect opportunity to schedule your class! Sign up for a Traditional Japanese Bladesmithing class in the next 7 days and receive a discount of 20%. Class schedule flexible as we are scheduling our 2014 Bladesmithing Course Calendar.
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