About Masamoto Shiro-Ko Hongasumi 正本 本霞玉白鋼
The Masamoto Shiro-ko Hongasumi knives are forged in Japan from a combination of white carbon steel #2 and soft iron steel, and handled with magnolia wood and a water buffalo bolster. White steel’s pure carbon content allows for the sharpest cutting edge. The main difference between the kasumi and hongasumi line is found in the crafting process. More steps, higher level craftsman, and greater attention to detail are involved when crafting hongasumi knives, and they therefore are more refined than kasumi knives.
Minosuke Matsuzawa, the founder of the Masamoto Sohonten Company started making knives in 1866. It was his dream that his family would come to be remembered as knife craftsmen throughout the generations. Now, five generations later, Matsuzawa’s vision has been realized and professionally crafted Masamoto knives have become widely regarded as the finest knives made for professional use.
Purpose of Unagisaki
Unagisaki knives are special traditional Japanese knives used for cutting and filleting eel. What makes the unagisaki knives especially interesting in comparison to other traditional Japanese knives is the number of styles that exist. If you were to divide unagisaki knives into two categories, they would be Kansai and Kanto style unagi knives. If one were to be more specific it would be Edo-style, Kyoto-style, Nagoya-style, Osaka-style and Kyushuu-style. The reason for the number of styles is not because there are different needs or types of eel depending on region. It is due to the variations in preparing the eel. Chefs in the Kanto region slice and open eel from the spine, because of the region's samurai background. Although slicing eel from the stomach would make filleting such a long and slippery fish easier, the idea is strongly associated with seppuku, which is a form of suicide by disembowelment used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor. Therefore the image of cutting the stomach is thought to be taboo and brings bad fortune. However, in the Kansai region where nobility and merchants heavily influenced the culture, there was no disapproval or hesitation to cutting from the stomach. Another theory to the difference is because of a popular saying in the Kansai region by the merchants. "hara o watte hanasou", which literally means lets split our stomach and speak frankly. The Unagisaki, also known as the Edosaki bladesm are longer than its counterparts and are triangularly sharpened. Because the knife will get caught in the bone if you cut from the spine, the Kanto-style (edo-style) knives have a sharp triangular blade to easily cut into the eel. Kansai cut from the softer side of the eel, the knives do not need a tapered point. The tip is used to easily slice through the spine, and the rest of the blade is used to cut fillets.This style of knife also has a shortened handle that fits nicely in the user's palm when in use. Edosaki knives are used to cut eel from the spine. The meuchi used for this cutting technique is very simple and does not have a T-shaped handled like the others. Since the spine is cut into first the eel does not struggle as much while being prepared.