In the early years of the Showa Period (1926 - 1989), the area had about 20 blacksmiths. Now there are just three. When Ito Kajiya, the head family that had produced Matsubara sickles for centuries, closed down its operations, it passed its traditions on to Tanaka Kama Kogyo in appreciation of the high standard of the latter's skills. In the hope of spreading the word about the existence of Matsubara blades to more and more people, Tanaka Kama Kogyo offers private lodging and conducts a hands-on knife-making experience. This experience is not just a small part of the numerous processes involved in knife-making, but the full experience.
Using the furnace, which reaches temperatures of around 1,100°C, and the anvil and hammer, which generates loud, banging noises, you will be guided by Mr. Tanaka in the creation of a knife from a piece of iron, with your own hands. As well as offering a visceral sense of the sophistication of blacksmithing techniques, this experience will allow you to appreciate the difficulty of making knives and give you the joy of engraving your own name on your own knife.
The history of Matsubara blades can be traced back to the Battle of Dan-no-ura of 1185. After the battle, Naminohira Yukiyasu, a master blacksmith of the defeated Taira Clan, fled from the victorious Minamoto Clan and went into hiding in the Province of Hyuga (today's Miyazaki). When demand for swords soared during the Warring States Period, his descendants moved to Matsubara in 1474. They forged swords on the grounds of Hachiman Shrine and, at the request of local farmers, started to make crescent-shaped sickles. This is the beginning of Matsubara sickles.
These skills were inherited by the Ito family, hereditary officials of Hachiman Shrine. Many craftsmen learned these skills and Matsubara sickles spread throughout the land. Matsubara sickles and knives, with their 500-year tradition, are the ultimate in hand-struck blades, known for their sharp edges and durability. Try out a Matsubara blade, a designated traditional craft of Nagasaki, for yourself.