Shinshu cutlery Photo:Shinshu・Nagano Prefecture Tourism Association

Shinshu cutlery Shinshu uchihamono

Utility and functionality loved by craftsmen
Master craftsmanship seen in thin edged blades

Description

What is Shinshu cutlery ?

Shinshu Uchihamono are metalwork produced around Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. As this area is the former Shinano Province once called Shinshu, these blades are known under the name of “Shinshu Uchihamono.” They are distinguished by their toughness, high sharpness and ability to hold an edge, which are the result of the skilled hand beating of each individual blade. The main products of Shinshu Uchihamono include sickles, hoes and farming implements, hatchets, axes and forestry tools, and kitchen knives.
Shinshukama is the most well-known of Shinshu Uchihamono and have earned a high reputation for their grass sickles because Shinshukama have several unique features much appreciated by farmers. These include a shibazuke feature by which grass is moved closer to a mower’s hand, and tsuri in which the blade surface is curved inward so that a mower doesn’t miss their aim even if the blade becomes thin. Furthermore, another attractive feature is with a single-edged thin blade, it is light and easy to use. It is said that the techniques of Shinshukama were fully developed in the first half of the 19th century, and today Shinshukama are produced by blacksmiths still carrying on the time-honored skills.

History

Shinshu cutlery - History

The origins of Shinshu Uchihamono are thought to be connected to the battle of Kawanakajima when blacksmiths who moved to Nagano city to maintain the arms and swords of samurai involved in the conflict stayed on and taught the local folk the forging techniques during the Sengoku period, in the middle of the 16th century. The forging techniques contributed to the production of farming implements and forestry tools, and later have been handed down and evolved over the generations.
Furthermore, since this area was located along the Hokkokukaido Road, it was easy to bring in iron and steel produced in the Sanin area via Naoetsu port. In addition, the area was blessed with an abundance of pine woods providing the raw materials for pine charcoal which is softer than regular charcoal, and ideally suited for forging the characteristic thin blades of Shinshu Uchihamono. The road that brought in the raw materials, also served to distribute the finished blades across the whole country.
In the first half of the19th century of the Bunka/Bunsei era, one blacksmith making grass sickles invented the shibazuke and tsuri features which are characteristic of Shinshukama, while another blacksmith refined the double-edged sickle to a single-edge. These two kinds of sickle are the original styles of Shinshukama. Later the techniques of blade production were further developed and passed down through the generations to the current Shinshu Uchihamono artisans.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Iiyama Dento Sangyo Kaikan

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