Japanology Plus: Japanophiles Bjorn Heiberg
We learn in this edition that when Japan entered the Edo period and peace became the norm across the land, sword-smiths began making cooking knives in addition to weapons. After a ban on the wearing of swords went into effect in 1876, smiths began focusing in earnest on the creation of knives, scissors, and other bladed tools. Blades made in Sakai, in Osaka-once Japans best center for sword production-were of such superior quality that they were allowed to be engraved with “Sakai Exclusive.” Sakai craftsmen are still among the best in Japan, and in modern times it takes at least three of them to make a single knife from start to finish. In recognition of its unparalleled quality, the Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry bestowed upon Sakai cutlery the designation of Traditional National Craft in 1982.