Slow made Japanese homewares

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Shizu Hamono

11 October, 2022


Dylan Bennett


Nick Tsindos

Japanese metallurgy has long been revered for their intricate practices producing weapons and tools that have stood the test of time. As Japan is no longer in the Edo period these techniques have been translated into knife making to great success. Shizu Hamono Co. is one such company that have been knife making since 1950 by using these inherited techniques and traditions of sword masters from the Kamakura period.

We have been stocking their knives for over two years and have the luxury of being the Australian exclusive stockist of the Yuri and Yamato lines. Each one is a beautifully hand-crafted marvel of artisanship with utility to match. I was delighted to be able to interview Hiroaki Wada, a representative at Shizu Hamano, and ask some questions about the company and tips for entry level chefs looking to invest in and get the most of their knives.

We put lots of effort into these knives and we believe they have power to make people enjoy cooking.

What would be your recommendation for a first knife or knife set for a new home cook?

For those who those looking for one knife that covers multiple utilities the Yamato Santoku is a great starting point. Santoku’s are a Japanese knife designed in the 1940s as meat became more popular as previously it was less common. The santoku is halfway between a western chef knife, with its point and rounding edge for slicing, and the nikiri (vegetable cleaver), with its flat heel for chopping.

If you’re willing to invest in two knives the Yuri Santoku is a thinner and shorter knife as it lacks the flatter heel meant for cutting vegetables as this would be reserved for your vegetable cleaver, the Yuri Nakiri. The benefit of this option is not having to worry about cross contamination when preparing meat and vegetables but also that dividing tasks between two knives helps them stay sharper longer.

If you already have these areas fulfilled the Morinoki Petit and bread knives are great additions to any kitchen. The petit is a pairing knife for cutting small vegetables and fruits as well as a multiple of other techniques a larger knife might be a bit cumbersome for. The bread knife is likely self-explanatory.

What would you say is the most fundamental skill when using a kitchen knife is? Be it for conservation of the knife or getting the most out of a cut.

Pull to cut. Many Japanese knives produce the best results when you pull the knife to cut. “Small trick to cut cabbage and similar big vegetables such as pumpkin and watermelon, very slightly push to cut first. This is because they are bigger than the knife blade or very hard vegetable.

Additionally, in the name of conservation, never drip-dry your knives or put them in the dishwasher. Always hand-wash and dry them and never store them somewhere where they are susceptible to contact with other metals as both of these mishaps will lead to your knives rusting which will dull them.

From start to finish how long would you say a knife takes to make on average?

The process of crafting a knife from start to finish is an intricate one which takes longer in Seki as knife making has fields of specialisations for the seperate steps. The steps involved are shaping, heating, thinning, putting handle, polishing blade and handle, straightening, sharpening, and sharpness checking. Shizuoka Hamono receive them at the polishing phase and complete it from there. Sharing the steps between specialised artisans produces a far higher standard as each stage is given equal time and attention. The whole procedure starting with a shaped piece of metal usually takes around 3-4 months to produce an ornate, yet undeniably effective kitchen utensil.

Is there a particular knife Shizu Hamono Co. sell that you are particularly proud of?

We are very proud of Yuri, Yamato, Morinioki knives as each have been developed with the knife user in mind, prioritising ease and conformability.

The Yuri series were created by women in the knife and cooking industry, designed to be ideal for daily use. Despite the fact that the nikiri specialises in dicing vegetables it has been losing popularity in recent years due to its tiring weight. The Yuri Nakiri answers this with the thinnest blade in the Shizu catalogue, resulting in sharper, more precise cuts with less required force. This goes for the other two knives in the Yuri line also; the santoku and petit.

The Yamato series are more so a standard weight and size vs the Yuri and consists of a santoku, deba, and Yanagiba. However, the primary allure of this series aside from their high Japanese-standard of craftsmanship, are the beautiful hammered textures along the spine making these utensils really stand out. Not only they a marvel but the hammered marks also serve to prevent food from sticking to the knife.

The Morinioki are a series of general use kitchen knives made with stainless steel and features an understated square, wood handle. Special care and consideration have been given to each item in this series such as the bread knife featuring finer serration toward the top of the knife then the main body for ease of slicing through crust. The rest of the series features a petit, utility, soft cheese, hard cheese, and pizza knives.

We put lots of effort into these knives and we believe they have power to make people enjoy cooking.

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