Ichimonji at Japan Craft Expo 2023

Education via experience

Our kitchen knife brand is more than just selling knives. We also focus on education around knives and preservation of the culture behind Sakai knife making techniques and traditions. This is one of the major reasons we’re translating more content into English from our Japanese site, and making more original resources. To us, this is very important - we are always wanting to educate anyone that is curious about the space, including helping customers try their own hand at making and maintaining knives, or engraving names and patterns onto knives and tools they own.

To that end, we attended the Japan Craft Expo 2023 held at Osaka’s beautiful EXPO ‘70 Commemorative Park in Suita City. This is our 2nd time attending, and it’s all about showing traditional Japanese crafts. This blog will go into detail about our experiences there, what we taught and what we can also teach you in our store in Osaka and online!

The Craft Expo closest to the (Tower of the) Sun

Japan Craft Expo was held from November 4th to 6th and brought over 50 different craft brands from across Japan coming from a variety of fields. Many people came to the event to learn about and try their own hand at traditional and modern Japanese crafts. For example, there were workshops on copperwear production, chopstick making, pottery and even more unique crafts like scissor making. We represented kitchen knives and went with the idea of teaching others about knifemaking and honing their sharpening skills, plus helping people make something that is uniquely theirs - a kitchen knife they put together, with a name they engraved on it themselves! This event is for families, so we also had kids activities. As the event was also in Osaka it was easier to get our crafting stations to the site and be able to make some amazing experiences for people to treasure.

Our own booth had six different workshops. We weren’t there to sell knives, just to educate and give people a unique experience (but of course, people who attended the workshops left with the products they made at the end - which included knives.)

The power of cutting with a Japanese Knife

Our first experience was a free cutting demonstration! We brought knives of all different kinds of steel both in carbon and stainless, and let people try the amakire or sweet cut that Japanese knives provide. Everyone that gave cutting a go got one of our special eco bags as a present too. The best way to experience how well kitchen knives cut is to try them yourself, so we brought a lot of vegetables to let people try cutting through. It’s always fun to see the surprise on people’s eyes when they first try these knives as the blade cuts through without any resistance.

Turning a copper plate into a paper knife

Our second experience was all about making a knife from scratch! Starting with a small sheet of copper, attendees hammered it down manually. Then they would grind a handle and basic blade into it using our special tools. Finally, our team handled the last sharpening and voila - they had their own knife, which they could stamp their name on! We do this experience in our store as well, so come along and try it for yourself. It’s a bit of effort but well worth the reward as the knife you make with your own hands is truly one-of-a-kind.

Making Art from Unexpected Sources

Next, we had a unique experience of turning discarded knife handles into art. Sometimes when we make knives the handles we order don’t quite fit, so we repurpose them to avoid waste. In this case, we had an expert on hand to showcase how to properly sand these magnolia wood handles down and convert them into small flower pots. It’s a great way to reuse an old product and this was a great experience kids and parents enjoyed together.

Learning Sharpening from the Experts

Our fourth experience was sharpening training from one of our experts. Properly sharpening Japanese kitchen knives is difficult, and takes time to master. However, thanks to our staff, people were able to learn all about proper angles and techniques. Plus at the end, if they brought their knife in to practise on they left with it properly sharpened!

Coloring and Card Games

Fifth, we had a kids area for coloring in and demonstrating a karuta-style card game unique to Doguyasuji - where our store is located. Sometimes our other workshops take a longer time to complete so it’s important for family events to give children something fun to do! They’re the chefs of the future, after all. Plus we are proud of our Doguyasuji roots, having been here for 70 years.

Making a knife that is truly your own

Finally our largest and most comprehensive experience was about handle attachment and engraving. After the cutting demonstration, people chose one of the metals we demonstrated in our knives (such as White Steel #2, Silver Steel #3 or VG10) and then a matching handle. One of our staff then heated a handleless blade form’s tang to a high temperature, gave them the handle (safely!) and showed them how to attach it with a mallet. It’s all about hammering it straight to form the slot for the tang properly before applying a firming paste. Afterwards, it was engraving time! On some aluminium, we demonstrated to attendees how to engrave into steel, let them practise and then they engraved onto their own knife. We had both locals and travellers alike have a great time doing this, then leaving with a sharp knife they had a hand in making. While it does look tricky at first, people were engraving beautifully in no time. Again, we do the engraving experience in store!

Imprinting your soul into your tools

Experiences like this allow people to connect more closely with the tools they use, no matter the trade. Making sure we understand where our tools come from allows us to appreciate them more, and also understand the work and soul that artisans and craftspeople of all trades put into their products. We saw so many other artisans at the show and loved talking to them about what they do - one of our staff even built a table at another booth!

Tamahagane and other demonstrations

Major demonstrations also took place at the event, such as one company making tamahagane steel, a process that took all three days and netted a wonderful result. You can also see tamahagane in our store!

We encourage you to come along next year, or you can visit us in the shop. We do many of these experiences in the shop rotationally and would love for you to learn a lot more about our knives, our culture and what we do.

If you are online only, we understand it is a little more difficult but we will keep working on educational content so you can see what is going on behind the scenes of knife production so that when you do visit Osaka and Sakai you know what to expect.

Please come visit us and enjoy not only our knives, but the soul and process behind them.

Event Information

Japan Craft Expo


Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 565-0826