Japan consists of no less than 6852 islands – but the four biggest ones, Honshu, Hokkaidō, Kyushu and Shikoku, make up for 97% of the land. It has 127 million inhabitants, the tenth-largest in the world. It is the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP, the fourth-largest exporter and the fourth-largest importer. The climate varies greatly from north to south, the Japanese uses at least three sets of characters in their writing and enjoy full religious freedom.
Man has been living in what we now call Japan for well-over 30 000 years. The country has seen etnic group come and go, the rise and fall of shogunates and emperors, victory and defeat in many wars.
It goes without saying that this vast diversity is not easily summarized. But something can be said about Japanese cooking (even though this of course varies to from prefectures, cities, towns and villages) and the cutlery used in this cooking.
The food philosophy of Japan
The Japanese cuisine follows the seasons and uses the fish, meat and vegetables available. Dishes vary from place to place, but common to all Japanese cooking is the high quality and the great care taken in preparation and presentation. It is all about the process and details. You could look at for example sushi as just “fish and rice”, which westerners tend to do. To the Japanese, it is the outcome of a hundred carefully performed steps each of which is equally important for the result.
It takes ten years of practicing to become a real sushi chef. The first year you practice preparing the rice, the next five to prepare the fish, then three years of making rolls, and the tenth year you finally get to make nigri, fish and rice together. Only when you been through all four seasons ten times you might be considered to understand what the Japanese cuisine is. This is why the Japanese chefs take such pride in their work, and their skills are so highly appreciated.
The hospitality of the Japanese restaurants is very special. The notions of sasshi (to hypothesize) and omoiyari (empathy) are essential. Behind his counter, the chef watches you closely. What you eat and how, what you drink, what you are talking about. He will of course never let you notice that he is watching you. All he wants to do is to cater to the smallest of your wishes, sometimes even before you know you have them.
The philosophy of knife making
Sasshi and omoiyari are most important to master Hideaki as well. He likes to meet with his customer, find out how he or she works and what kind of food he or she prepares. When master Hideaki gets to know the chef better, he will make a knife especially for this person, from the choice of steel to the finishing honing.
Making a traditional Japanese knife is a process where no step is more important than the other. This process takes time, time that we sometimes think we do not have in modern society. But when a master does something, he takes the time to do it well and he will not sacrifice quality on the altar of speed. This makes his products durable and once you get a Sakai knife it will last, contributing to the sustainability of our planet.
We offer not only an excellent kitchen tool, we offer a piece of history and respect for time and traditions.