Tosagata Hocho 6-inch Santoku Knife


Bargain Japanese chef's knife

I decided about six years ago that what I really needed was a Japanese Chef’s Knife – not because I’m an expert in the kitchen, but because I didn’t have a decent chef’s knife and the Japanese ones looked exceedingly cool. (My wife and I were at the time in the grips of a modest Iron Chef addiction). When I looked online, most of the ones I found were over $100.

Then I found this Tosagata Hocho 6″ Santoku, in blue steel and wrought iron, for ~$35. I ordered it, thinking that even if it turned out to be a lesser knife, it was a good way to try out the idea of a Japanese knife.

Six years of hard use later, this knife is still frighteningly sharp. It’s my utility knife – I reach for it for about 80% of my cutting jobs in the kitchen. The blade has maybe six almost undetectable nicks on it, and I have never sharpened it or done any maintenance beyond occasionally wiping it with a little oil before putting it away.

An importer’s website says: “Tosagata Hocho Cutlery are finely crafted kitchen knives that come from Tosa on Shikoku Island. This region is much more rural and forested than other parts of Japan, and the blacksmiths still adhere to the old ways. The master blade-maker sandwiches a layer of Aogami Hagane (blue steel) between two pieces of soft wrought iron, and by hand very slowly hammers the blade into shape.”

And it looks it – a black/grey surface, complete with hammer marks, make this look like the serious implement it is. It gives me the thrill of using a well-made tool every time I pick it up. I’ve even come to love the fact that it’s not stainless – having to spend just a moment cleaning it soon after use reminds me that I’m using something a little special, and gives even mundane kitchen tasks a little sense of occasion.

An unbelievable bargain for a terrifically cool tool.

-- RJT 10/25/06