Photo By: Freshly Diced
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Osaka
Population
8,804,806

Handcrafted Knives of Sakai

Old industrial town on the outskirts of Osaka, from where famous chefs of the world source their knives.

South of bustling and busy Osaka sits the laid-back port city of Sakai, home of the legendary handcrafted Japanese steel knives, a 600-year-old craft passed down with meticulous precision from one generation to another.

The craft of Japanese knife smiths is acclaimed worldwide, and it’s not uncommon to find tourists fresh off the airport bus making a beeline for knife shops. If you’re passionate about cooking or simply a knife nerd, head for Sakai City, the most preeminent among the few handmade knife-making centers left in Japan. In fact, Sakai makes around 90 percent of Japan’s handcrafted knives.

One of the craftsman forging a handmade steel knife in Sakai.

Photo by: Amrita Singh One of the craftsman forging a handmade steel knife in Sakai.

Before you invest in a traditional Sakai knife, it’s important to know that each knife has been through the hands of at least four master craftsmen – the blacksmith, who forges the carbon steel through a seven-step process; the sharpener who bevels the edges of the knife with wet ceramic and wooden grinding wheels; the handle maker, who customs the right size, shape and weight of magnolia, karin wood or ebony into handles with buffalo horn trimmings and finally hafting in the hands of an assembler, who securely aligns blade to handle ensuring the product is finished with a level of quality that has now set the benchmark for knives worldwide.

Knife-making area

It not uncommon to hear the staccato of hammering from houses while walking the streets of Sakai. Traditional blacksmith forgeries and sharpeners of Sakai usually operate out of small workshops attached to their residences. Head out to this northern pocket of Sakai to visit knife shops.

We have compiled a list of are a few of the most renowned knife shops in the city. Here are the Top 3.

Kawamura knife shop

Sakai- at the sharpener.

Photo by: Amrita Singh The knives at the sharpener.

With walls stacked high with knives of every shape and size, the Kawamura shop has a no-frills down-to-basics atmosphere, which gives you a feel of how this business has been conducted for the last couple of generations. At the far end, workers are busy sorting their product, and once you’ve selected the knife you’d like to take home, Toshio Kawamura, fourth-generation owner, will himself engrave your name on the blade. This practice has become a tradition, since buying a knife of this quality is akin to investing in a family heirloom.

Kawamura Hamano

  • 3-1-7, Zaimokucho Higashi, Sakai City, Osaka 590-0942

Sekai, Osaka Lighthouse

The knives are sharp and the surrounding city is quaint, with its hexagonal lighthouse, Japan’s oldest wooden one.

Jikko knife shop

In sharp contrast to the traditionalists, Jikko showcases its knives in an avant-garde modern showroom. From trendy music streaming overhead to glass display cabinets, this is a shop that aims to bridge the gap between its age-old products and young buyers. Toshiyuki Jikko, the owner, works with his co-workers on the ground floor workspace and has converted the upstairs area into a sleek state-of-the-art shop.

Jikko Incorporated

  • 1-1-8, Yanagino-cho Nishi, Sakai City, Osaka 590-0930

Sakai Traditional Crafts Museum

Signed antique Japanese knife cleaver hand forged made Sakai in the mid-1800s.

Sakai is also the birthplace of several other  Japanese crafts, such as incense making, carp streamers and carpet weaving. However, it’s the knife industry of Sakai that is truly the “king of the crop” largely evident by the huge knife mounted on the face of this small building. On the weekends, knife sharpening and maintaining demonstrations are held here.

Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum

  • 1-1-30, Zaimokucho Nishi, Sakai City, Osaka

Topics: , ,

How To Get There

Address

1丁-9-6 Sakaebashicho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka Prefecture 590-0971, Japan

By train

From Osaka’s Namba station, take the Nankai-Koya  line towards Izumi-chuo to the Sakai station.

Where To Stay

Kuretake Inn Nankai Sakai-Ekimae
  • Sakaiku Sakaebashicho 1-3 Sakai-Shi, Osaka 590-0971
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
Hotel Agora Regency Osaka Sakai
  • Sakai-ku Ebisujima-cho 4-45-1 Sakai-Shi, Osaka 590-0985
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com
APA Hotel Sakai Ekimae
  • Sakai-ku Ebisujimacho 4-28-6 Sakai-Shi, Osaka 590-0985
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.3 km
Powered by Booking.com
Comfort Hotel Sakai
  • Ryujimbashi-cho 1-5-1 Sakai-Shi, Osaka 590-0972
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.3 km
Powered by Booking.com