2014: The beginning

How did I get into collecting Japanese knives? I’ve been asked a few times, so below you will find my story highlighted by a couple photos that signify the highlights of the last 5+ years.

So how did I get into Japanese knives? The simple answer: via finding the right stones to sharpen a knife I had; from synthetics to natural stones and then wanting to have a better knives to match the quality of the stones.

Fast forward and after a few months of research and trying a host of different stones I ended up buying a Takeda Gyuto and Watanabe Santoku. Not much later, I was able to acquire a 150mm Shigefusa kitaeji petty from a Japanese reseller and from that moment on I never looked back. Shigefusa it was for me.

2015: Starting collecting

By mid-2015, I joined KKF (Zweber12) after a long time of lurking and started posting in the gallery page. By this time, I owned 6 Shigefusa knives and managed to acquire my first western handle, a 150mm petty to match the 150mm kitaeji. The (re)search of Shigefusa knives became a true hobby, building up a network within the Japanese knife community was fun and have to say that the basis for some really good friendships were made this year.

2016: Acceleration

The collecting really kicked into high gear this year. Focus was mainly on gyutos and was able to acquire quite a few, including the elusive western handles. These truly had something special and I put extra effort into finding these types of knives; at year end I owned a 240mm and 180m.

2017: Getting out of hand?

Yes, at this stage I owned around 60+ Shigefusa knives anything from KU finished knives to woodworking tools, including a sen! Mid 2017 I took the image on the right. Though impressive to some, it really made me question where I wanted to bring my collection. Acquisition rate dropped due to various factors; a temporary loss of interest and simply a low supply and huge price surge. Around this time, the whole flipper debate started, which sparked my interest to keep track of Shigefusa sales in a database. As of December 2019, the file includes 950+ entries and documents well the price evolution of the knives.

In 2017, I was mainly chasing complete series. A good example (and series completed) was the range from 210mm to 360mm yanagibas, in 30mm increments. At the time of the photo on the left, the series was still incomplete but managed to complete this by the year end. A good philosophy? That’s debatable.

2018: Collecting highlight

In August I made a long-time dream come through: visiting the Iizuka Family in Sanjo. The visit was semi planned and semi unexpected, though reignited my interest in collecting. During the same week, I made the acquisition of two knives I had been chasing for 3 years at this stage: the 300mm yo Gyutos.

Early 2018, I launched kitaeji.com and started documenting the Shigefusa collection to great detail with photos and measurements. An Instagram account was added to the mix as well.

2019: Regained Focus

The year started out with a collection reduction of around 20 knives, which were sold over a period of 3 months. I finally figured out what to do with the collection, a limited focus on a range of knives; mini series if you will with the exception of the gyutos.

During the year I made a few sought-after purchases as a result of relationships build over the years and a few trades; these included a fugubiki, an yo sujihiki and yo gyuto.

The image on the left was made at the end of 2019 and illustrate well the direction of the collection. I can refer to my KKF gallery page for a more detailed evolution of the collection. Drop me a line or email if you want more information, happy to share my experiences.