The Ikarashi River that ran through the town of Sanjo in Niigata prefecture was known as the raging river for its constant flooding. Taking pity on the farmers, in the early 1600s an Edo government official traveled to the region bringing with him skilled blacksmiths to teach the farmers how to make hand-forged nails to supplement their income.
As new forging techniques were introduced, specialized blacksmiths and their products started seeing more demand. The river that once brought havoc now brought merchants and 400 years later Sanjo is known as a “Blacksmith Town.” It’s here that Tadafusa, an esteemed manufacturer of hand-forged knives, has opened a shrine-like showroom.
“The sliding glass doors remain, but the ‘case’ itself is meant to be entered, not merely opened”
“Knives do not consist solely of blades,” says architect Ysuke Seki, who was tasked with communicating Tadafusa’s philosophy and product into a spatial experience. The wooden handle and cutting board are also integral to the knife and this is where Seki focused his attention. Tadafusa had developed a specialized antibacterial carbonization method for their use spruce, which went into the handles and cutting boards. Seki decided to use that same material to create an attractive display case and central table.
By abandoning conventional designs for knife display cases, which are cold, shallow, and locked away behind glass, Seki managed to imbue a more human element. “The sliding glass doors remain, but the ‘case’ itself is meant to be entered, not merely opened,” explains the architect. “The thinned-out assortment of knives is at once both more attractive and user friendly, the horizontal orientation more intuitive.”
Tadafusa’s shop sits adjacent to their production factory, and welcomes both beginners and experienced knife users. Tours of the factory can be arranged prior to visiting. They also offer knife sharpening services if you want to bring along a few old knives. The shop is located at 27-16 Higashihonjoji and are open from 9:00am – 6:00pm Monday through Saturday.