Hitohira Tanaka x Kyuzo

Tanaka Blacksmith

ステンレス系や本焼きといったものを打たず、鍛接した鋼の包丁に対して強いこだわりを持つ。鍛造に関しては堺の鍛冶屋の中でも間違いなくトップクラスで、特に彼の打つ青一鋼は、研ぎ師が、彼の打ったもの以外は研ぎたがらないというほど、包丁として適切な固さと粘りを持つ。『手作りと言う以上、機械生産品と品質で明確な差をつけなければいけない』と手作りに対して強いこだわりを持つ彼の鍛冶は、現代の技術を理解したうえで、伝統的な鍛冶を行う。利器材の使用や割り込みを行うのが主流の両刃包丁の製作において、合わせの要領で行う両刃包丁の製作からもその様を見て取ることが出来る。

Kyuzo Sharpener

Kyuzo’s father Heihachi is one of the busiest sharpeners in Sakai. Heihachi’s workshop room and corridor were always filled with knives waiting to be sharpened. Although Kyuzo initially worked under his father to learn the foundation of rough sharpening, eventually he became a student of Kambei, known as one of the best sharpeners in Sakai because he knew best how to sharpen wide double bevel knives. After a few years of training, he built his style based on both his father and Kambei’s respective styles. Today, Kyuzo is one of only a few people who can sharpen wide double bevel with really good Shinogi-line in Sakai, one of the most challenging techniques in sharpening.

Description from a User

About Describer

I have been working in the food industry for 28 years now, and have been using Japanese knives professionally as well as home use for the majority of that time. I’ve tried many different knives from different makers, in various shapes and different steels. This opinion is based on my culminated experience thus far.

Out of the Box

At first glance, the Hitohira Tanaka Kyuzo Blue #1 Migaki 240mm Gyuto with ebony handle is truly a sight to behold. The fit and finish is above reproach. The wide bevel polishing is among the best I’ve seen out of the box. It has an almost holographic look to it where the iron cladding meets the carbon core. And it is contrasted nicely with subtle diagonal lines along the hira. The Kanji is of the House name for Hitohira, and is minimal. It is chiselled deep with no negative uncomfortable texture.

Immediately in hand you will notice this gyuto is well balanced overall, with the balance point about 34mm from where the handle meets (or 19mm from the choil). The ebony/blonde buffalo handle is smooth, with no noticeable texture where the ferrule meets the handle wood. It is on the thinner side, but also a touch taller giving it a comfortable modern feel when holding. Very well executed.
The spine and choil are nicely polished and comfortable to hold in various style grips. The choil sports a signature polish on both sides which meets to an apex. I find this both visually appealing and very comfortable.
The edge out of the box is well sharpened/polished with a good bit of bite.

Profile

The overall profile of this blade is one that means business. A decent flat spot along the first 45mm of the edge from the choil slowly starts to curve upward towards a more pointed style of tip. This helps make it more functional in daily use, allowing for subtle rock chopping when needed. The heel height of 50mm is perfect for enough board-to-knuckle clearance, and is more than suitable for everyday use.
Overall weight of the knife comes in around 204g, giving it some slight heft, but nothing that becomes fatiguing after a long day of use. This extra little bit of muscle also helps in the ease of cutting, creating more of that “falls through foods” effect.

Grind

This knife is very thin behind the edge, but still very stable on the board. It is wide bevel on both sides with a true shinogi line, making it easier to re-sharpen and for future thinning maintenance. The wide bevel has a slight hollow grind to it, which lends itself to fantastic ease of cutting through dense product.
There isn’t too much of a distal taper, but what is there is noticeable visually. The spine where it meets the handle is about 3mm, and it steadily narrows to where the shinogi line meets toward the tip. From there it takes a drastic taper to an almost paper-thin tip, making it easy for detail-oriented tip work.

Steel/ Sharpening

Tanaka’s forging and heat treatment with Blue #1, in my opinion, is second to none. As mentioned, the blade is wicked thin behind the edge, but feels perfectly stable on the board. The steel holds an edge through quite a lot of heavy use, making touch up maintenance minimal.
When sharpening, feedback is almost silky smooth, and the steel quickly takes a razor sharp edge. It feels smooth on the stones, and is able to take/hold a nice toothy edge with some polish.

Conclusion

This knife is perfect for professionals who are looking for a blade that can take on heavy workloads as well as finesse finer more detailed cuts. The steel holds a fantastic edge for long periods of time. Coupled with an amazing grind and thin edge, more time is spent on the cutting board and less time on the sharpening stones.
This is a carbon knife with iron cladding, so it will be reactive. Care needs to be taken when using. I wipe the blade constantly when in use, and wash it often. Through good use, it will develop a beautiful patina that will help assist in protecting it from corrosion. When I leave the blade in storage I rub on a thin coat of mineral oil to help protect from moisture in the air.
With proper care, this knife can last you for many years, even becoming a family heirloom you can pass down to your children. I highly recommend this knife, as well as others from Tanaka’s line. I believe over time these knives will be highly sought after. They sell out quick for a reason!

*This description was written for Hitohira Tanaka Kyuzo Blue #1 Migaki Gyuto 240mm Ebony Handle by user M - Executive Chef overseeing two restaurants in Baltimore, MD. Please understand that weight point and measurements are slightly different for each one.