Hey, I could have shown you a cover shot of Japanese Kitchen Knives, but I thought you'd rather see a photo of the craftsman who actually fashioned the very knife pictured on the book's jacket!
Japanese kitchen knives are incredible, precise tools, and I spent countless hours practicing my cutting techniques these last few months training in Japan. I first discovered this book, written by Chef Hiromitsu Nozaki and Kate Klippensteen (check out her Cool Tools, too), while I was in Tokyo, and found it hugely instructive, helping me understand cutting techniques, knife maintenance, and the blades themselves. Kate recently emailed me to say Japanese Kitchen Knives, which I flagged in an post about sharpening, has now been released in America. If you're serious about Japanese cooking, you have to read this book.
I've been very interested in the blacksmiths and sharpeners who shape these blades in Sakai City, the epicenter of this craft, located just outside Osaka. These masters follow age-old traditions to hand-produce traditional Japanese single edged knives. It's incredible how much sweat and effort it takes to make each knife. I wrote about these masters last year (see my story in Salon), and earlier this month I visited Sakai again, where I met more of these amazing artisans. When I mentioned how helpful I found Kate's book, they told me they were the ones who handcrafted the knife on the cover. Incredible.