This collection takes its name from the maker Takeo Murata, widely considered to be amongst Japan’s elite group of highly revered Nokaji. At a mere 62 (born 1949) he has achieved accolades usually associated with makers in their late seventies and older. At the most accomplished levels knife making is an ‘old man’s game’ as the skills take many decades to develop and perfect.
At the age of 16 Murata san started apprenticeship working with his uncle Tokaiji, the foremost blacksmith of his time. Tokaiji san emerged from a pedigree dating back to the crafting of the finest Samurai swords centuries ago.
Murata san crafts these fine examples of top level knife making from a small studio under a dim 40 watt bulb necessary for judging whether or not the steel is at the correct temperature for forging. Using the naked bulb this judgement is made by the colour of the metal whilst heating. The low stable light enables Murata san to evaluate the exact shade for perfect forging.
These beautiful black coated (known as Kuro uchi finish) knives are made with the renowned Yasuki steel also known as Aogami (blue as opposed to Shirogami, white steel) No 1. This particular steel is used by artisans whose processes are primarily by hand. Its rarity means that only revered smiths can bid for small balls of this material twice a year. It is highly prized for being immensely rich in carbon (without the usual accompanying heavy staining effects) and HRC approaching 64. These two qualities allow Murata san to create a blade which possesses and maintains an alarmingly keen edge and is generally quite easy to re hone.
The handles of the Murata Collection are triple riveted and composed of pakka wood. Pakka wood is composed of layers of sandal wood bound with silicone. Thus resulting in handles which are water resistant, strong and comfortable.
We felt extremely privileged to be trusted by Takeo Murata to promote his knives outside Japan, as back in the late 90’s this honour was bestowed only on retailers within Japan. Due to a serious hand injury Murata san was out of action from 2007 ‘til now and in that 4 year period we have been inundated with requests from JKC customers wishing to acquire these uniquely spectacular blades! The fact they are handmade solely by Murata san combined with the long back log of orders means that for certain shapes there may be a two week plus wait.
ABOUT KUROUCHI FINISH
When knives are hand forged the steel is subjected to coal fire for extended periods which results in the external carbon burning. This leaves the blade black. Often knives are ground, buffed and polished to expose a shine or mirror finish expected by commercial enterprises. Maintaining the traditional black oxide, in other words imbuing a ‘Kurochi’ finish is much more effective in the prevention of rust; this outer skin is a hand hammer forged signature special to Murata san.
Particular attention should be paid when washing Kurochi finished blades as aggressive washing with a scourer as well as extended heavy use will 'polish off' the black finish – once that happens it is vital to ensure you wipe the blade with a little light oil after every wash. A fine 'cleaning' cream (much gentler) or special rubber – both available from JKC - can be used to remove any oxidising marks.