STYLE: Mirror Polish Usuba, Right-Handed
STEEL: Honyaki, White Steel #1
HANDLE: Ho Wood handle with a Water Buffalo horn ferrule and custom wood inlay
BLADE LENGTH: 7.1sun, 215mm (8.5″)
BLADE WIDTH: 52mm
BLADE THICKNESS: *3.9mm
Carter Cutlery “Shiro” brand knives by Kenichi Shiraki
I was introduced to Kenichi Shiraki in 1993 by a vendor who traveled all over Japan selling steel. I was just an apprentice smith at that time and hungry to learn all I could about Japanese traditional cutlery. I asked the vendor candidly who he thought was the very finest bladesmith in the country. He told me about Mr. Shiraki, but I was disheartened to discover that he lived and worked so far away from where I was living in Japan at that time. I was down south in Kumamoto and he was up in Osaka, the industrial capitol of the nation.
Although I have made close to one hundred kata-ha blades in Shiraki’s style, I have realized that it takes thousands to master what is the uncontested world’s most complex blade to make properly. Compared to my hundred blades, Mr. Shiraki has made more than 700,000 kata-ha blades. (50 years X 60 blades/day. In his prime he could forge over 250 blades per day, so this estimate is very conservative). Kenichi Shiraki has made every possible shape, form and size in this style of blade-forging. To date, he is the only bladesmith in Japan that can successfully complete any quantity of Hitachi White Steel #1 Honyaki blades at will. There is no more difficult blade in the world metallurgicaly.
Honyaki (or “true-forged”) knives are constructed entirely out of one steel. Honyaki knives require a great amount of skill to forge properly, but when excuted by a master craftsman they will perform unlike any other knife. Because the steel is so hard, honyaki knives are harder to sharpen and more prone to chipping if used improperly. It requires a great amount of skill to forge this style of knife, and as such, it requires experience to use and care for them.
*NOTE: Shiro knives are forged with a distal taper (thicker in the middle, more thin towards the tip), the blade thickness given is dependent on what part of the blade is measured. On these knives the blade thickness is measured above the carved blade markings.