Japan – a place of opposites
Japan is a place of opposites – clinging to strict Japanese customs while yearning for the lifestyle of the West, women wearing kimonos while passing a couple, dressed like they just arrived from the grunge era of the 90s. Buddhist and Shinto temples interspersed among futuristic glass skyscrapers, time spent meditating in zen gardens or socializing in noisy karaoke bars. The juxtaposition of tradition vs technological advances is nowhere as obvious as with knives, being manufactured in Japan.
Japanese craftsmen have been refining the art of forging katanas (Japanese swords) long before they started making kitchen knives. Centuries-old experience of forging steel, combined with functional and exquisite design have been passed along to knife manufacturing, which is why Japanese knives are arguably the best in the world. We aim to bring this world to your kitchen.
Why choose a Japanese knife?
You don’t have to be Japanese to use Japanese knives. They differ from the German or French versions mainly in their emphasis on exceptional sharpness, the hardness of the steel and thinness of the blade. The shapes of these have evolved over time in regards to the needs of traditional Japanese cuisine. They range from long Sujihiki and Yanagiba knives (mainly for cutting steaks and pieces of raw fish), to vegetable chopping specialists Nakiri and Usuba, and the versatile Santoku, Gyuto and Bunka. Chefs and true connoisseurs of knives own several other highly specialized knife shapes, but for enthusiastic home cooks and those just starting their career in the kitchen, one universal quality knife is enough.
Pushing the boundaries
At SharpEdge we are constantly on the lookout for ways to combine the existing infrastructure of Japanese knives and – using our different life experiences, accumulated knowledge of knives and the cooking expertise of our fellow Chef friends – add our own point of view to it.
Burja knife is a combination of the rich culinary tradition of prosciutto ham with the Japanese tradition of forging knives. From idea to design, after many conversations with knife makers, trial&errors, finding the right steel and handles, many sliced (and eaten) prosciuttos, visits to Japan, the process finally ended after a good two years. Japan’s tension between tradition and modernity was reflected in the blacksmiths’ initial hesitation at the proposed changes to existing knife shapes, but in the end their curiosity prevailed. Thus, the centuries-old craft of knife forging had merged with the idea of a knife that even family members won’t want to lend to each other.
Before Burja there was the trio of Bunkas: ZDP-189 Bunka Black, with a powder steel core and a distinctive hammered Kuro-uchi patina (“kuro” meaning black in Japanese) forged in Yoshida Hamono smithy, a shorter and agiler Bunka Black Damascus, adorned with 33 layers of Damascus and last but not least SG2 Bunka Matte, a technically perfected universal knife with a SG2 powder steel core and a minimalistic matte finish.
Japanese knife as a gift?
Today we cannot imagine any work done in the kitchen – be it home or professional – without proper tools. Cooking no longer stands for hard labor when preparing food for the family, but is a fun and social activity. Those who are truly in love with cooking (and those who wish to be) insist on the best tools. Which is why a good kitchen knife is a thoughtful present for your loved ones, who you wish to have less stress and more fun in the kitchen. You want them to enjoy better tastes and finer shapes of ingredients. The goal of Japanese cuisine is (and should be of all others) to preserve and emphasize the taste of fresh and seasonal ingredients, and a sharp knife, created as a result of a long tradition of forging high-quality knives, is invaluable to this process.
If you’ve bought a Japanese knife as a gift to yourself, we offer the following advice: no matter what kind of dishes you prepare, be it sushi, steaks or homemade burgers, you should stick to using fresh ingredients, be bold with the recipes, and afford your sharp knives the respect they deserve.