Japanese Knife & Sword City: Seki Experience ★ ONLY in JAPAN

Japanese Knife & Sword City: Seki Experience ★ ONLY in JAPAN


City of Knives and Swords: Seki City Good morning! I traveled all the way from Tokyo to this spot Seki City in Gifu Prefecture for the “hamono festival” or the Cutlery Festival held on a weekend in October. Japan makes some of the best knives all over the world and today we’re going to get a chance to see some of them because Seki is the center of knives … … and swords … … and apple peelers … … and scissors … … and razor blades … … and where exactly is Seki you may ask? It’s down there in Central Japan’s Gifu Prefecture a short trip from Nagoya, Japan’s fourth largest city. It’s at the base of many mountains giving it loads of clean, fresh water. Spreading out from the city center are a lot of things to see and do. Welcome to Seki. Let’s have a quick look around. Seki is a charming place. Mino is a town nearby known for paper. It has an old well preserved village area. This is Monet’s Pond because it really does look like a painting, carp swimming through water color. The rivers are pristine and famous for Ayu sweet fish. This countryside restaurant prepares Ayu fish in so many different ways. Seki also has fantastic river unagi, chargrilled eel! One of my favorite dishes, don’t miss out on unagi, with that slightly sweet and salty soy taste that spreads deliciousness over the eel and rice – and this smile on my face. We’ve come here for the HAMONO MATSURI Seki’s cutlery festival where it’s world famous knife makers show off and sell their goods often at discounted prices. This is the Seki Hamono Matsuri or Cutlery Festival. There are 43 stands here so if you’re in the market for a knife — This is the place to be! It’s a showcase of knives. Seki is one of the most famous historical sites for samurai swords but after World War Two, the industry shifted to cutlery and they take pride in the many different products they produce. The Seki name is a brand in itself. At this festival, you’ll find rare and unique stock from vendors, the craftsmanship without question some of the best in the world. The events at the Hamono Festival spill out all over the city. You’ll find knives made from all kinds of strong materials. These knives are made from stone and cut like a champ. I was looking to buy an all-purpose knife 15 to 18 centimetres long. I have one question … Aren’t they expensive? 20,000 to 23,000 yen! (US$200 to $230) They’re expensive, right? Well, for people who do not cook much it may seem expensive but the materials used are special professional grade materials. Even the handle is polished by hand. It’s more of a work of art than a knife. Is it like a samurai sword at all? Not so much as a katana, but much of the process is close to it. The thing that really stands out to me is the pattern of the knife That’s right. This is called Damascus Steel, abd the material is unique to Japan. It is really popular overseas. It has 67 layers. What does the pattern mean? There are different types of Damascus Steel. The one here is called pattern-weld steel. This is not a print, but each of them is layered. 67 layers in total. Modifying that gives it a different design. The brand is Mcusta. Yes. Why is Mcusta in Seki? Seki City has a long history with the katana. Going back to the Kamakura Era (1185 to 1330). It has continued until now. After the World War 2, the knife industry boomed. So for scissors, pocket knives, kitchen knives and razors, we have the biggest share in Japan. So from the history of the samurai sword — That’s right. Started way back from there. So, Seki is known for its knives now because of its history with samurai swords. And you see the quality in what they make today it’s the same kind of quality that they made hundreds of years ago when the samurai were still in existence and that’s why Seki thrives as a knife making centre today. I’m looking for an all-purpose knife that can do it all but also beautiful. What do you recommend? What you often see in a household is the Santoku size. This one is most popular. This was made to be able to cut meat, fish or vegetables This is the one I recommend the most. I loved the handle and the balance. The weight was perfect. Never in all my life did I ever think I was going to spend about $180 on one knife, but — The quality, the workmanship, the history eventhing makes this such — a really valuable thing I’ll have for all of my life. I’m definitely going to buy it at this Hamono Festival. I brought my knife to a high end restaurant in Seki that served the area’s top wagyu beef. I wanted my knife to sink its teeth into something beautiful right away. This is Hida Gyu. Gifu Prefecture’s premium wagyu beef. This is a generous cut. And this — Seki-made knife. Hida Beef is a top Japanese beef brand from Gifu that rivals Kobe and Matsuzaka beef. Although not a challenge to cut, it seems the perfect compliment to my Seki knife. My new knife is beautiful. The handle is red wood, the three rivets look great. The handle made for crushing garlic. The Damascus steel pattern a combination of steel that makes it light, strong and razor sharp. Knife in paradise. Now it’s my turn to sink my teeth into that steak. Hida gyu just melts in your mouth, not as oily as Kobe beef, even more tender — and more than satisfying after a day of knife shopping. No need to say another word. SAMURAI SWORDS! A performance at center stage during Seki’s hamono festival showed the discipline and skill of the samurai – and the importance of their sword. In the Seki Sword Tradition Museum, you can see many of their swords on display. Seki has been a center for swords for over 700 years and they are very proud of that history. This is a real samurai sword. Weight: 1.0 -1.3 kilograms. They are dedicated to the materials and the craft, and it shows in their skill a focus on perfection with acute attention to every detail. You can see a Traditional Japanese Sword Forging Demonstration at least 4 times a year here – and during the Hamono Festival. Air is pumped into the fire to make it very hot. Temperatures reach about 1350 Celsius which makes the steel soft without melting. It’s needs to be soft for this: Hammering it flattens it out so that it can be cut and folded over which strengthens the steel. It’s put back in the fire then the process is repeated, each time making the steel stronger. It’s cut and bent back then folded. It’s folded front to back and then side to side to create a cross pattern for strength and this also eliminate any voids in the metal. A typical samurai sword is folded 10-15 times. This not only makes it stronger, folding the steel removes impurities The technique has been passed down from master to apprentice since the 13th century. To become a swordsmith, you must go through a 5-year apprenticeship to become licensed and sword-smiths can only make 2 long swords per month, each sword made must be registered with the Japanese government. The steel is coated in a mixture of clay, water and straw-ash to protect it between foldings. The total process to make a samurai sword in this traditional way takes about 2 months including the assembly, decoration, polishing and mounting with scabbard. Swords can be made in more modern ways in 3 to 4 weeks by master craftsmen The average price of a real nihonto sword is 400,000 to 600,000 yen or $4,000 to $6,000. If you want the best, be prepared to pay $13,000 to $20,000 – or even more depending on the craftsman. Each one is forged special in this way. The block is then elongated, cut, folded, and forge welded again. As the steel gets stronger from being folded, it requires a trio to hammer. As you can see, there’s a rhythm to the process. Tamahagane or jewel steel is the type of steel used, made in the traditional Japanese way, in a clay tub furnace. It contains around 1% carbon content. Oh, and it’s illegal to export Tamahagane steel! That ensures that the best swords are only made in Japan. In this demostration, the metal is hammered and folded only 5 times. For the forging demo, that’s enough. The work to lengthen, craft, polish and sharpen will katana will take a lot of skill as well. On the table you can see the steps of sword construction. Respect to the master swordsmiths of Seki. This chambara performance made me want to buy a sword! But for me, maybe not a real one. If you want to buy something cheaper, there are display swords which you can take home with you for less than US$100. The edges are dull but they look the part. This doesn’t have a blade. It really doesn’t! You can tell right away. This also can’t cut anything. Right, but the weight is the same as a real one. The same? Well, this is only for display. That’s right. How much is it? This is — 10,000 Yen ($100) It’s really is beautiful. Thank you. This is a display kodachi or short sword. Pretty cool! Unlike the these professionals who wield real katana, I’d best stick to non-lethal weapons for now. WHAT’S A DISPLAY SWORD GOOD FOR? It can become the most dangerous looking mirror in the world. Good hair day. Seki and the cutlery festival was a lot of fun. The city mascot even has knives as ears. The Homono Matsuri or Cutlery Festival is the perfect time to visit Seki. TIt’s not just for knife and sword enthusiasts. It’s a place where we can say the soul of japan still exists strong, in manufacturing something so well, it’s perfect. Japanese knives are some of the best in the world if not THE best and Seki city is the place to be if you’re interested in knives because it’s back with centuries of making Samurai swords and that kind of history is put into the knives they make today. Seki knives are a cut above the rest. Next time I head to Kagoshima’s SAKURAJIMA for the volcano experience. Thank you for watching ONLY in JAPAN! Check out the latest episode, playlist and don’t forget to subscribe. Produced by John Daub See you next time. Mata ne~

100 thoughts on “Japanese Knife & Sword City: Seki Experience ★ ONLY in JAPAN

  1. The 2019 SEKI HAMONO MATSURI is scheduled to be held on OCTOBER 12 (SAT) & 13 (SUN). Definitely check it out: http://seki-hamono.jp/ is the website. Thanks for watching the video and please subscribe for more info on Japan. Really appreciate it!! -john

  2. I know I'm really late. But please know that there is no longer such a thing as Damascus steel. Not one person on the planet has been able to recreate it. That being said; Damascus steel is not the best steel ever created. It just sounds and looks cool. For its time, it was a great thing. But with modern advancements in manufacturing and refining techniques, better blades and metals can be produced.
    What you are seeing here is something called pattern welding. I'm not knowledgeable enough on this topic, but other just looks, I think it is utilized to protect the rock hard steel core with softer more resilient exteriors that are less likely to corrode etc.
    But, I could be wrong on that last bit.

  3. Wootz steel is quite different than pattern-welded "damascus". If editing that out of the video caption is too hard, you should at least note the error in the description.
    That aside, great video!

  4. Hi, I will be going to Japan for a vacation later this year and I am really hoping to purchase a real katana! What is the process on getting the sword back to the United States and are there any cheaper than the 4000-6000 that you mentioned in your video?? Awesome and very informative video though!

  5. ¥23,000 for one knife is a tad steep. I think our entire set of steak knives at home cost like $300 (around ¥30,000)

  6. I have a Japanese knife just a little smaller than yours, and it cost $175. I bought it at a store in D.C. where all they had were imported Japanese blades. It was heaven.

  7. If the pattern is "etched" using the acid technique, then you can't say that's real damascus steel or even if it has a real "hamon" (the fuzzy edge pattern) because those patterns are actual effects of the manufacturing process (folding, differential hardening, etc) rather than designs. I was very obvious that the patterns were for design only when the knife is in closeup, the edge looked thicker than the rest of the blade indicating that the patterns were literally etched out of the blade. Real hamon edges or damascus steel will have a very even surface reflection off them.

  8. Japanese traditional steel is not as good as European spring steel. It was just innovative using what they had at the time.

  9. The damascus pattern has nothing to do with sharpnes. It is only for estetic quality. The most important thing is that the steel the edge holds (hagane) is of good quality and hard, and that the outer steel (jigane) is softer so that it is more robust and less expensive.

  10. Their was so many different types of knives for preparing food. How do you know what type of knifes to get as a starter sets?

  11. I just bought a new chef’s knife. It was made in Seki City by a manufacturer named Miyabi. But it was commissioned by their German parent company, Zwilling J.A. Henckels. And it was made to the specifications of an American Master Bladesmith, Bob Kramer. It’s not a stainless steel Damascus but instead, a humble high carbon steel. But I love it. Thanks for your video. It was very entertaining. And the little history lesson of the city was insightful.

  12. You said something interesting at 9:40. Japanese could not melt steel back in the days. That is why their steel was full of impurities and why they had to bend the steel many times.

    Europeans had better metalurgic technology.

    I could also point out that the katana is heavy, it requires 2 hands to weild (so you cannot have a shield), it doesnt have a guard, it is terrible for trusting and that the 15th and 16th century european armor was completely immuned to slashing weapons.

    Yeah, european swords are superior in everyway. But katanas make a nice decoration on the wall =P

  13. ONLY IN JAPAN!!!! that's racist im triggered or something… " I would never dream of buying 180 dollar knife" 10 minutes later spends 200 on beef cut dinner .. lol

  14. Going to Japan for a month in 2020. Your videos are informative, entertaining and extrtemely well done. I'm learning alot. By the way…Congratulations! Your bride is beautiful and you're a very lucky man.

  15. I may need these 😂. Once I was chopping some vegetables and the knife came loose and just flew out right near my face. I was scared for life , didn’t go anywhere near the kitchen for a week.

  16. I love your videos but one criticism, can you not put the coming up boxes on screen please, it’s really distracting and seeing as this is a short video I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s like those annoying commercials I used to see when I lived in Canada showing up coming shows just as the one your watching starts! Thanks for the great videos. I loved my time in Japan, this brings back happy memories.

  17. Damascus = pattern welded, yes. = wootz, NO. Wootz is a crucibel steel, that’s something completely different.
    The patterns are also quite different on both.

  18. Here 6:09
    … is your typical mass consumerist mentality that makes people believe high quality products have to be cheap! Time, work, high quality raw materials and tight QC, they all have their price! 100 to 200 €, £ or $ are absolutely normal for a high end chef knife that will maintain its basic sharpness for weeks, is balanced, sturdy and will withstand literally decades of hard use.

  19. $180 for handmade knife is cheap. Culinary knives made by custom makers can reach $3000 easy, but average $700-800. I make kitchen knives as a full time job. Monolith Knives in USA.

  20. Oh I missed it. Added in my itinerary for my next trip.

    I did buy knives from Tokyo Kitchen Street… Cost was similiar to what you paid. Generic purpose knife.

  21. Japanese knife is the best 😁👍 I have one set (3) Kamikoto , but I like it the one you got 👍

  22. Wootz steel is a lost art, it is created as one piece from ore!!! It is not welded….welded is just Damascus.

  23. ダマスカスは一本持ってるけど
    材質の名前じゃ無いですよね、
    JISでいうとなんなの?
    青紙1号とか?商品名で言われても訳わかんない
    SNCMとかかなー?

  24. Sy mintak pisaunya yg untuk potong daging yg kecil saja. Bambang Setyo p. Alamat perum wisma permai regensi blok. AA 14 waru sidoarjo.jawa tomutp Indonesia

  25. I coul tell stories why there is NO best steel and why modern steel like AUS 8A or other kinds is "the best". Tamahagne can be forged into incredible sharp steel, but block something with it and it relatively easy breaks. They did not use metal armor in japan, so….. Its like comparing hammers and sickles for gods sake. You could kill with boths, but they have a different purpose or for that matter fighting style involved. For gods sake THEY make their knifes from damascene steele it seems. Reasons.

  26. Cool vid! The pop up Factoid is incorrect regarding Damascus and Wootz steel however. Not the same thing. Damascus, or folded steel, as the Japanese do it is a pattern welding process – several individual pieces of metal pounded together with pressure and while very hot. Wootz is the lost forging tech where a crucible steel (melted into a liquid, it's then ONE piece) is made into steel that is super strong at the edge and very flexible – and without quenching. Wootz != Damascus.

  27. That is a beautiful knife, but it hurt my soul to watch you cut your steak over a plate instead of a cutting board.

  28. I want to purchase a knive from Japan when I go in August. Do you think if tsa will confiscate when back to the US?

  29. I want demonic black straight katana forget and crafted using marihuana instead of rice in certain traditional procedures….

  30. I have seen a lot things in my life, but never seen someone bring a santoku knife to a restaurant and use it to cut meat on a glass surface.

  31. John, I have a question for you about purchasing knives from this event. I remember a video that you did explaining the size of knives that you're allowed to carry around with you. I know that I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill, but I just wanted to get some clarification on this works with the items that you showed off in this video. 🙂

  32. Click bait spam. That knife is mass produced. Not collector quality or hand forged.. This video is an ad and the actor is a just a product pimp.

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