NOTE: Saji Craft Collection comprises 9 blades, not all are pictured;
Born in 1948, young Takeshi Saji started his apprenticeship in the art of knife making at the age of 14 with his uncle, then amongst the most revered knife smiths in Japan. Their hometown of Takefu has been at the forefront of knife making for over 700 years – add the word Uchimono to the original name of Takefu – Echinzen - and it translates as ‘hammer forged knives’. It was the purity of the Iron steel; from nearby Yasuki, the clarity of the spring water and the highest grade of pine charcoal which secured Takefu a place amongst the 4 most important knife making centres in the world.
From the outset, it was obvious that young Takeshi had a unique talent for creating outstanding edges. So great is his natural affinity to this art that at the age of 30 he was awarded the accolade of ‘Traditional Craftsman’ and at the extremely tender age (in knife making terms) of 38, the Ministry of Culture honoured him as a ‘Living Treasure’ of Japan – the youngest person ever to receive this high honour. Saji-san from the beginning has always made recreational, sporting and hunting knives – amongst the most challenging blades to make and an area to which highly accomplished Nokaji are particularly attracted. The consumers of such blades are probably the most demanding in the fine knife community.
In 2006, on a visit to Takefu to meet 2 other blacksmiths, we had the good fortune to meet Saji-san – who at the time was President of the Takefu Knife Village Association. On seeing his knives, their awesome rustic beauty and level of performance – we were determined to convince him to make culinary knives for Japanese Knife Company, which at the time he was too busy to consider. 2 ½ years of constant persistence paid off and in late 2008 he agreed to produce a comprehensive collection of kitchen knives using the greatly prized Aogami No. 1 steel as the core of these luxurious Damascus blades with a total of 129 layers of alternating steel and stunningly inimitable Stag Horn handles.
The look of this most definitely unique collection is clearly inspired by its ‘hunting knife’ heritage as well meeting and even surpassing the requirements of busy chefs and dedicated home cooks. The Saji Collection embodies the complex beauty of Japanese knife making at its finest as well as being a stunning example of the art of hand forging.
The Saji Craft collection comprises a 90mm Peeling, 135mm Paring & utility, 150mm Utility/boning, poultry, fish and game, 180mm, 210mm & 240mm Gyuto Chef, 175mm Santoku Chef, 180mm Nakiri and a 270mm Sujihiki Slicing and carving knife.