Montanren: A Traditional Japanese Knife Meets Excellent Sharpness

Sakai Ichimonji Mitsuhide Montanren range

Our "A Craftsman's Perspective" series introduces Sakai Ichimonji products from the eyes of our resident knife sharpener, Mr. Jun Watanabe.

We would like to introduce this knife series with the Sakai Ichimonji Montanren, a series we believe demonstrates our true commitment to sharpness. A quick glance and you can appreciate the well-finished, slim and unique form of these Japanese knives.

The shape of the cutting edge and ridge line, and the care and attention paid to the handle shape and finish, give the impression these knives will cut just by looking at them.

The handle is the classic Japanese-style octagonal handle, made of a durable yew wood that will darken with age. Some people prefer the look of ebony wood.

While I understand that and everyone has their personal preferences, yew wood is tougher and will last longer than ebony, which can require replacement much sooner if mistreated.

Attached to the yew wood handle is natural, ethically sourced buffalo horn. Like the natural wood used in our handles, each piece is unique and beautiful.

The steel is Japanese White Steel #1, with relatively few impurities and the characteristic of being easy to sharpen. These blades are forged at low temperatures through repeated hammering, making the steel grain uniform and further driving out impurities.

All knives differ in quality based on the materials used, but traditional Japanese knives are generally hand-made by craftspeople and this can have a big influence on the quality of the final product.

When sharpening these blades, it feels hard, but you can feel just the right amount of “stickiness” that once finished, you’ll be scared of just how sharp you can make it.

A good quality knife will give you clean, crisp lines that make it easy to find the right angles and edge shape for sharpening, making the process easier.

If the blade wasn't forged well from the start and the dimensions or lines are off, you will have unevenness and possibly some chipping, indentations, or ruin the whole geometry of the piece when sharpening it.

Sometimes these things are inevitable with handmade knives, especially in the cheaper price range of knives. You can easily check by laying the different sides of your blade against a whetstone, and checking how to flush each angle that rests along it. A straight spine and clean edges are key to Japanese knives.

In the end, our customers really are the ones who can show us how good our knives are. With repeat purchases and constant & honest feedback, the team at Sakai Ichimonji can continue to build high quality knives for everyone.

View the Montanren Range