2016 has whizzed by – if possible – even more rapidly than 2015 did and here we are again in the run into Christmas. That US institution Black Friday (Friday 25th November this year) – yet to impact fully in Australia – is, in that country at least, unofficially the start of the holiday shopping period, with one theory about the name that retailers stop trading in the red and go into the black on that day as everybody rushes in to get Christmas presents.
There’s one place though where you’ve already missed the deadline if you wanted to get that extra special gift for a special person for Christmas. In fact if you didn’t place your order this time last year, then forget it. We’re not talking some fancy Italian sports car here – no, this is ‘just’ a kitchen knife, but quite a special one.
This is a knife made by a 720 year old Japanese knife manufacturer called Moritaka Hamono Inc. The company prides itself on maintaining traditional craftsmanship and has stuck to the same knife making principles for seven centuries, with only the introduction of small improvements in hammering and stretching the metals (unlike these kitchen knives of the future). All knives are still made by hand, which accounts for the long wait for customers before they can get their hands on one.
Until recently the company was not particularly well known, but a historical TV drama series set around 1600 in Japan about a feudal warlord called Sanada Yukimura (pictured) named the company as the one that had likely forged his sword, and word spread. Orders from outside Japan then started to come in after the company was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Which goes to show that publicity is everything! The company is still small – the current company president (the 27th so far) makes the knives and his wife looks after sales and operations.
So, unless you’re Christmas shopping for 2017, you’d be better off getting an IO Shen knife as a Christmas gift. And the great thing is – they’re made using the same 720 year old technology (How an IO Shen knife is like a Samurai sword). Plus we know our IO Shen knives are used by a famous person on the TV as well – all is revealed on our Facebook page!
If your gift recipient has already got the full range of IO Shen knives (and a Nirey sharpener to go with them), we have another suggestion for the perfect Christmas present. It’s on our Christmas list anyway…
Tim Hayward, a UK based food writer, journalist and now Cambridge restaurant owner, has written a book called “Knife: the Culture, Craft and Cult of the Cook’s Knife”. As long as bookshops don’t mistakenly put this book in the true crime section, you may even find it on your Christmas shopping trip (if you can’t, it’s on fishpond.com.au).
The book details forty different types of chefs knives and kitchen knives, from Damascus steel blades (like some of our Bolt range) to Chinese cleavers and Japanese sushi knives, and tells the story of each one with glorious photos. Forget food porn – this is knife porn.
For a much briefer history of the kitchen knife see our previous article.
Read more here…