Since our establishment in 1872, our prosperity over seven generations has been greatly supported by our community and customers.
For close to 150 years (since the Meiji era), we have been offering "Made in JAPAN" knives to the world as well as sharpening, maintenance and care services for households and restaurants in Tokushima.
Today, we live in an age where AI and automatization may take over our jobs. Additionally, due to advanced technology, fewer items are crafted by hand. That is why we are daringly committed to dealing with products of true craftsmanship. We proudly guarantee the outstanding quality of our knives.
|Hayashi Hardware LLC.
|1-25 Nishishinmachi, Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, JAPAN
|1872 (The 5th year of the Meiji era)
|+81 - (0)88 - 652 - 2219
|Manufacture and sale of kitchen knife products
Interview with the master
148 years have passed since Hayashi Hardware LLC. was established in Tokushima. We have conducted an interview with the seventh-generation master, Mr. Ikuo Hayashi. Let's find out about his passion for knives, the fond memories he cherishes, and his beliefs as the owner of this traditional hardware store.
林 郁夫 Ikuo Hayashi
You've been the seventh-generation master for over 30 years. What triggered your curiosity for knives ? Do you have a specific memory about when this began ?
As a child, I blindly thought that expensive knives cut well. Once, I took the most expensive knife in our store without my parents knowing and tried cutting a piece of cardboard. Surprisingly, I couldn't cut it at all.
That was because the blade of that knife had not been sharpened yet. It's at that time I wondered "why can't I cut this ?" Since then, I have studied edged tools and the logic of "cutting something" on my own. In retrospect, this could have been the beginning of my interest towards knives.
I also had an opportunity to see the production process of knives, saws, and sledgehammers at a workshop. To date, I still remember the awe I felt at that time.
Workshops may seem chaotic and irrational at first glance, but in fact, they are extremely efficient. Fixing distortions and degrees sometimes takes a micrometer of adjustments. These are all elaborate and precise endeavors. There are tens, if not hundreds, of procedures behind completion of a single tool. I clearly remember feeling each of these processes as passion of the craftsmen.
You can never study enough about knives, as it is such a profound field. This is a true lifetime study.
You said you studied about knives on your own. How long did you do that ?
About 35 years ago, I observed a professional sharpener's work for hours and tried copying what he was doing.
Even though I was sharpening knives in the exact same way as him, my knives were not as sharp. I didn't have a clue what I was doing wrong. So, I started my education by finding out the difference between him and myself.
It makes me feel embarrassed to say this -as it shows how ignorant I was back then-, but to be frank, knife sharpening appears easy. It's just putting the blade against a whetstone and rubbing it back and forth, right ? However, this takes unbelievably profound skills. You can only learn by actually using your hands. You have to improve your technique by continuously sharpening knives. You have to acquire the know-how through experience.
Occasionally, I am asked to sharpen uncommon knives. I still take a trial and error approach and constantly study to brush up my skills.
You must have been sharpening a lot of knives to date. What's in your mind when sharpening a knife ?
I personally believe that above all else, knives must cut well. I've been sharpening knives for a long time, but I always remind myself that I haven't reached my best yet, so that I don't forget the spirit that I started with. I put my heart and soul into each knife when sharpening. I always have eight kinds of whetstones ready, so that I can use the most appropriate one depending on the nature and condition of the blade.
Our sharpening process is almost all completed by manual work and it indeed takes a lot of effort. When trying out a sharpened knife, I just love the refreshing sensation of cutting something ever so smoothly, as if it was a sword cutting through the air. It always makes me excited to wonder "How will the customer react when he receives this knife ?", "Will they be satisfied with the sharpness ?"
Do you have any memorable moments from working at your store ?
Once, an elderly woman came to our store and happily showed me a pair of tweezers, saying "You recommended these tweezers 40 years ago... I'm still using them!" I was a total amateur back then... It was really touching that she had been using them with care for 40 long years.
Another time, an elderly woman visited us and asked me "I have a knife that your dad recommended when I married my husband... Would you be able to sharpen it ?" I took over the master's position about 40 years ago, so I assume she bought the knife around that time.
Time goes by, history is weaved, and people are connected through tools.
We offer tools that will be cared and used for a long time. It is extremely honorable to present something like this to our customers, and at the same time, it reminds us of our mission to spread quality tools throughout the world as craftsmen.
Can you please tell us about your future vision ?
We have been in this business for close to 150 years here in Tokushima. I really appreciate the fact that a lot of people consider us to be "the knives of Tokushima."
Japanese knives have been highly valued throughout the world and have excellent reputations. As someone who has been fascinated by knives since childhood and as a professional who sells them, I want to expand this trend both throughout Japan and all over the world.
We have to be careful not to spread incorrect information about Japanese knives. I want to answer any questions regardless of difficulty, and respond to my customers' wishes sincerely. The key to achieving this is, I believe, to keep devoting myself to my studies without being satisfied by the status quo.