Yanagibas or Sashimi Knives are traditional style Japanese slicing knives that typically have a face sharpened edge, meaning they are sharpened mostly on one side for a much sharper cutting edge. Sashimi knives are used primarily by Sushi chefs to thinly slice fish but the knife is increasingly popular with western cooks for a multitude of tasks including roast carving.
There are a variety of different styles of sashimi knives that have different blade designs. The most popular is the yanagi or yanagiba. This style has a long slender blade, one sided edge and a pointed tip.
Ho wood handle with Buffalo Horn Ferrule.
Handle Length- 152mm
Handle Width- 22mm
Handle to Tip Length- 490mm
Chin to Tip Length- 320mm
Blade Height at Chin- 35mm
Width of Spine at Handle- 5mm
Width of Spine above Chin- 4.3mm
Width of Spine at Middle- 3.2mm
Width of Spine 1cm from the tip- 1.3mm
Weight- 241 g (8.5 oz.)
Tokifusa Iizuka & Sons Make Popular Shigefusa Knives the Traditional Way
In a nation that values fine kitchen cutlery, Tokifusa Iisuka is probably the most revered maker of kitchen knives in Japan. As a teenager, Iisuka became an apprentice to master sword maker Kosuke Iwasaki and began making traditional Japanese razors. Ten years later he decided to make cutlery and apprenticed himself to Munenori Nagashima, a famous sword maker who had decided to make knives after World War II.
In 1970, Iisuke established his own business, handcrafting kitchen knives that he inscribed with his Shigefusa brand name. The meticulously handcrafted knives have been and still are sought after by top Japanese chefs and sell for $250 to $1,500 each in Tokyo stores. Iisuke’s knives are described as simple and rustic, yet at the same time elegant, and their balance is so refined they feel like an extension of the hand.
In 1990, Iisuke’s two grown sons, Masayuki and Yoshihide, began to work alongside him in his small workshop located behind his rural home in Sanjo City. They continue to craft knives using pretty much the same process he has always used, doing everything themselves by hand. They begin by forge-welding high-carbon Swedish steel atop iron in a forge fueled by coke. More forge-welding is followed by several steps, including using a special tool called a Soto Sen to finish the shape, a step Iisuke says is important to remove the waves created in the blade surface by forging and grinding.
Blades are then coated with a special paste made from the “mud” left from using waterstones for shaping and sharpening. The paste is applied in different thicknesses to produce a hard edge on the blade, while leaving the blade flexible. Next, the blade is heated to 780° and plunged into a special water bath that determines the cutting quality. Finishing and sharpening, the most time-consuming tasks, involve honing using a series of five ever finer waterstones until the blade edge is razor-sharp and the surface is silky smooth.
This time-consuming meticulous process limits production, so the three craftsmen together make approximately a 1,000 knives a year. Although Iisuke uses a computer, it is only for accounting. His one attempt at automation – a $100,000 blade smoothing machine – sits idle. Iisuke told a Los Angeles Times reporter: “It was a good idea, but my skill is much better.”
All Shigefusa brand knives are handmade and made one by one, so they can vary in size and thickness. Unevenness in finish can occur.