The “single-blade type” created in Japan. Morimoto Cutlery Works” of Sakai Cutlery

The "single-blade type" created in Japan. Morimoto Cutlery Works" of Sakai Cutlery

Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, is known for its Sakai Uchihamono (Sakai perforated cutlery). The history of cutlery making dates back to the 5th century, when blacksmithing techniques developed from the production of tools for building ancient burial mounds. It became a major industry in the 16th century. When guns and tobacco were brought to Japan from Portugal, the manufacture of guns and tobacco knives for chopping tobacco leaves became popular in Sakai, making use of the knife smithing technique. The high technology was recognized by Nobunaga Oda and Tokugawa Shogunate, and spread throughout the country. In the Genroku era (1688-1704), the single-edged type, which is the characteristic of Sakai kitchen knives, was born, and now it has spread to the public as many cooks use it. It is also designated as a “traditional craft” by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Morimoto Cutlery, which preserves the tradition of Sakai Uchihamono, is a traditional craftsman’s house that combines work and residence in a back alley. In Sakai City, houses of similar construction can still be seen today. The workshop is so small that it is difficult for people to pass each other. Machines lined up in cramped spaces show their age. However, the Sakai Uchihamono cutlery born here is highly trusted by chefs in Japan and abroad.

Koichi Morimoto, the company president, was born in Sakai in 1941. In 2008, he was selected as a “Contemporary Master Craftsman” by the Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare based on the Outstanding Technical Skill Award System, and in 2016 he was awarded the Medal with Yellow Ribbon, making him one of Sakai’s leading cutlery craftsmen. In 2016, he was awarded the Medal with Yellow Ribbon.

The knife-making process in Sakai is characterized by the long-established division of labor. The “forging” process produces the “base” of a Japanese kitchen knife, and the “edging” process sharpens the blade by sharpening the “base” produced by the forging craftsman to create a beautifully sharp kitchen knife, Each technique can be mastered. The single-edged blade is suitable for Japanese cuisine, such as fish and vegetable dishes, because the knife runs away in the direction without the blade when cutting materials.

I just took over my parents’ business and did what I was taught to do to support my family. I am very happy that professionals use my products, but I also feel a strong sense of responsibility not to betray their expectations and trust,” said Koichi Morimoto.

Although Mr. Morimoto has been selected as a “Contemporary Master Craftsman,” he says, “Blades are not works of art. I just have to continue my steady work,” he says of his own work.

The knives born in this small workshop support Japanese cuisine,” said Nakata.

Nakata also tried his hand at sharpening. It is not an easy task to sharpen a knife by placing the blade on a grinding stone spinning at high speed. Not only are there sparks from the fire, friction noises, and dust flying around, but it also requires a great deal of strength to hold the blade against the whetstone. It takes a long time of practice before one is able to recognize the optimum level of sharpening with the senses of the eyes, ears, and hands. Following Morimoto’s example, his sons are now following in his footsteps, and I hope that the techniques that have been passed down for over 1,500 years will be preserved for future generations.


Morimoto Cutlery Manufacturing Co.
2-22, Minamisho-machi 1-chome, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka
TEL 090-8144-6486