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Sei Hamaguchi

Craft Name: MASANO IV

Born: August, 1963
Graduated high school, 1981
Graduated business and technical school, 1983
Employed as his father’s apprentice, 1983

Sei Hamaguchi was born into a blade-smith family with a long tradition. As a boy, her enjoyed hammering in his father’s Toyokuni factory. As a student, he tended to his studies, simultaneously learning from his father everyday. Upon graduating high school he concentrated on the blade smith craft under the tutelage of his grandfather and father’s expertise. Today, he produces all models of forged knives, including agricultural and forestry along with the finest kitchen cutlery. He has recently launched a series of outdoor knives honed with forging techniques only known in the Tosa region. His knives are the result of artistic design, function, and Tosa blade-smith process.

While we have been making knives for a long time in the traditional style at Toyokuni, at the same time we have been
developing new products in line with the times on a daily basis.

Until Japan's period of rapid growth in the 1970s, each household had various types of knives. There were knives for
vegetables, knives that could cut through bone when preparing fish, knives for sashimi, and knives for preparing eel-in just
one kitchen a number of knives were each used a different purpose. Since you used to heat the bath with firewood, every
household had a hatchet for chopping wood into small pieces, too. Even children used kogatana (a small knife) to sharpen
their pencils every day.

However, lifestyles changed and baths came to be heated by gas or electricity, and those who boned their own fish became
few. Vegetables like pumpkins came to be preferred in smaller sizes and so they started to be sold pre-cut in supermarkets.
There have come to be a lot of households with only one "all-purpose cooking knife" that you can use for anything.

While cutting things in the household has become less common, food industry companies have come to need special
blades. As a familiar example, blades for slicing potatoes for potato chips, blades for chopping onions, and blades for
grating ginger so that it doesn't lose its aroma have become necessary. A difference in the thickness or the angle of one
blade can make the production efficiency, the taste of the food, or the aroma better or worse. For that reason we go to the
actual factory locations and confirm everything with our own eyes, discuss things thoroughly with the machine operators,
and then develop the new blades.

At this point in time, 3D computers have been showing their power in the production of blades through computer aided
design (CAD).
If you sketch out your desired design on paper, you can make a prototype model with a 3D printer. Just by punching in the
numbers you can easily fine tune the blade's angle and thickness. In the traditional method, you first made a model out of
wood and then used that as a basis for making the blade. This took at least 3 days. It's only natural that you would have
to start over from scratch any number of times. However, due to CAD, you can make an authentic blade in half a day.
This method is the same as that of Honda's F1 machine. Prototype models are created by precise computer-controlled

The reason we are now able to do this is due largely to the power of the internet through which we have gained the ability
to send 3D images with computers.

In addition, we are making next-generation knives with the latest technology and raw materials. We are currently developing
a kitchen knife that people with no grip strength can use naturally, as well as cutting-edge surgical knives and medical
scissors in collaboration with specialist doctors.

At Toyokuni we pay close attention to information on the internet on a daily basis. As it has always been, Japan receives
orders for "a knife just for me" from all over the world. In those instances we think of each individual who will use the knives,
and we put our hearts into making them.

Since we are artisans we are fussy about making traditional pieces that we think are good, but in the future we'd like to hear
the voices of many people and go on to make cutlery that is useful to society.