Hitohira Tanaka Kyuzo Blue #1 Migaki Gyuto 240mm Taihei Ebony Handle
Part No. DAA-151-FA240
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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.
Handle Maker: Taihei
Many people have strict standards when selecting a handle, it is the only component we physically engage with a knife, the only part that touches our skin. Others overlook the handle of a kitchen knife as just a small “part” and do not pay close enough attention. Taihei however, a 3rd generation handle maker, shows a strong commitment to his craft.
When he was a child, Taihei remembers his grandfather crafting knife handles of timber and buffalo horn by hand, these fond memories helped him to decide to carry on the tradition from his father to the next generation, the year was 1992.
As the handle is not considered the main part of a kitchen knife, most manufacturers cut costs by having the ferrule made at a different location, then joining the two parts and shaping the handle by machine. Taihei however, still cuts each part of the handle by hand from solid materials, understanding the differences between each piece of wood and horn. This knowledge and skill make Taihei’s handles more durable than mass-produced models as he is making each piece differently to suit the materials in his hand.
As well as making traditional Ho magnolia wood handles, Taihei also challenges his work with many different timbers from all over the world. Each timber has a different weight, density, fineness and character, all important to consider when crafting each piece. He says, “if people have been using that wood for a long time, there is a reason that you cannot understand it within 10 or 20 years”. Taihei still respects tradition, but challenges with new materials and design, focusing on looks and functionality.
Sakai’s kitchen knives are crafted in 3 main stages. A blacksmith forges and quenches the steel, then a specialist sharpener sharpens the knife, then a handle maker will make a handle. Finally, a finisher assembles all of these elements, to make them work perfectly together.
Finishers will design a rough sketch of a knife, fit the handle, and then make a final sharpening on a stone. These final steps by a finisher are the determining factors of the quality of Sakai’s kitchen knives.
When Kakuyoshi was growing up, he was unfamiliar with the kitchen knife industry but decided to learn the craft. At the beginning of his career, he saw the antiquated way in which the industry worked, seeing a gap between the seller and maker, and how the craftsman was used by makers and sellers.
Whilst training in knife polishing under a sharpener, Kakuyoshi started to understand the pure attitude of knife makers and their huge levels of knowledge and skill only created by their long experience. Here he decided to make kitchen knives that worked with their abilities. These knives came from his ideas, experience and knowledge, the kitchen knives he created are what made “Sakai Kitchen Knives famous and brought them to the next level. He continues to make new knives that bring tradition to the next generation with modern technique.
Description from a User
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 by user M - Executive Chef overseeing two restaurants in Baltimore, MD. Please understand that weight point and measurements are slightly different for each one.
Brand: Hitohira ひとひら (一片)
Smith: Tanaka Blacksmith 田中打刃物製作所
Producing Area: Sakai-Osaka/ Japan
Steel Type: Carbon Steel
Steel: Yasuki Blue (Aogami) #1, Soft Iron Clad
Handle: Taihei Ebony & Buffalo Horn Ferrule Octagonal
Total Length: 390mm
Edge Length: 230mm
Handle to Tip Length: 244mm
Blade Height: 51mm
Handle Length: 148mm
Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous
Sharpener: Kyuzo 久蔵
Handle Maker: Taihei 太平
Might available on our partners website:
Tosho Knife Arts (Toronto, Canada)
Ai & Om Knives (Vancouver, Canada)
Professional Tooling (Australia)
STRATA (Portland, ME, USA)
Stay Sharp (Montreal, Canada)
Carbon Knife Co (Denver, USA)
The Knife Shed / KATABA (London, UK)
*Measurement and photos are from sample I picked up randomly, please understand that each item(s) has unique profile because of handmade.
*We are selling at the shop and website same time. If you puchase item(s) when sold in store, this might be out of stock.
*We might have this item(s) in stock, even if it says "Sold Out". Please feel free to contact us by email email@example.com or using contact form below.
*Colour and shape can differ between the photo and actual product due to the camera and lighting. Also, you may see a difference in colour due to the oil applied to protect from rust.