Hoochoo knife


Knife, knives (hoochoo)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Japanese cutlery

Japanese food takes pride it the various ways food is cut for presentation. There are more than 50 types of knives for different occasions.

Even in a normal family kitchen, there is a rag for many different types of knives which the housewife needs for cutting.


There are a number of different types of Japanese kitchen knives. The most commonly used types in the Japanese kitchen are the deba bocho (kitchen cleaver. robustes Hack- und Wiegemesser ), the santoku hocho (all-purpose utility knife. Allzweckmesser), the nakiri bocho and usuba hocho (Japanese vegetable knives), and the tako hiki 蛸引包丁 and yanagi ba, yanagiba (sashimi slicers. Filetiermesser für Sashimi).

Japanese Cutlery Design and Philosophy

Different from western knives, Japanese knives are often single ground, i.e. sharpened in such a way that only one side holds the cutting edge. As shown in the image, some Japanese knives are angled from both sides, and others are angled only from one side, with the other side of the blade being flat. It was originally believed that a blade angled only on one side cuts better and makes cleaner cuts, though requiring more skill in its use than a blade with a double-beveled edge. Usually, the right hand side of the blade is angled, as most people use the knife with their right hand, with ratios ranging from 70-30 for the average chef's knife, to 90-10 for professional sushi chef knives; left-handed models are rare, and must be specially ordered and custom made.

Since the end of World War II, Western style double-beveled edged knives have become much more popular in Japan, the best example being that of the Santoku, a Japanese adaptation of the gyuto, the French chef's knife. While these knives are usually honed and sharpened on both sides, their blades are still given Japanese-style acute-angle cutting edges along with a very hard temper to increase cutting ability.

Professional Japanese cooks usually own their personal set of knives, which are not used by other cooks. Some cooks even own two sets of knives, which they use alternatively each other day. After sharpening a carbon-steel knife in the evening after use, the user normally lets the knife 'rest' for a day to restore its patina and remove any metallic odour or taste that might otherwise be passed on to the food.
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Japanese Kitchen Knife ... 和包丁 ...

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Sakai near Osaka is a famous area for producing kitchen knives.


bataa naifu, butter knife
furuutsu naifu, fruits knife


bunka bocho, bunka boochoo 文化包丁 "culture knife"
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deba bocho, deba boochoo 出刃包丁(でばぼうちょう) for fish
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fugu hiki, fuguhiki フグ引き "blowfish puller" for fugu sashimi
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Filetiermesser für Kugelfisch


hamokiri boochoo, knife to cut hamo fish bones
鱧 . はもきり包丁
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katsuo bocho, katsuo boochoo かつお包丁 かつおたたき専用包丁
Used often in Tosa, to cut bonito

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nakiri bocho, nakiri boochoo なきり包丁、菜切り包丁
for vegetables


Oroshi hocho, oroshiboochoo
( おろし包丁, "wholesale knife") and
hancho hocho (半丁包丁, "half-tool knife")

are extremely long, highly specialized knives used in Japan to fillet tuna and other large fish.

The oroshi hocho is the longer blade with a blade length of 150 cm (60 inches) in addition to a 30 cm (12 inch) handle, and can fillet a tuna in a single cut, although usually two to three people are needed to handle the knife and the tuna. The flexible blade is curved to the shape of the spine to minimize the amount of meat remaining on the tuna chassis. The hancho hocho is the shorter blade with a length of around 100 cm (39 inches) in addition to the handle. The hancho hocho is also sometimes called a maguro kiri ( マグロ切, "tuna-cutter").

They are commonly found at wholesale fish markets in Japan, the largest of which is the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. They may also be found at very large restaurants, but they are not found in the regular Japanese kitchen, unless there is a frequent need to fillet tuna with a weight of 200 kg (440 pounds) or more.
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. . . CLICK here for Photos : マグロ包丁 Maguro Knife!

Tsukiji, the big fish market in Tokyo 築地市場, Tsukiji shijoo


santoku bocho, santoku boochoo 三得包丁(さんとくぼうちょう)"knife with three virtues", the ways to use, for fish, meat and vegetables

soba boochoo, 蕎麦包丁 to cut buckwheat noodles. It weighs about 1 kg to facilitate rythmical cutting of the noodles.
Cutting buckwheat noodles, sobakiri 蕎麦切り is a difficult job.
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takohiki タコ引 "octopus puller" to cut for sashimi
It is used in the Kanto area with a rectangular end.
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Usuba boochoo, thin blade knife 薄刃包丁(うすばぼうちょう)
usually used to cut vegetables

yanagi bocho, boochoo 柳包丁 Yanagi Sashimi knife
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ikejime いけじめ / 活けじめ / ikijime (活き締め / 生き締め /活〆) a method of preparing fish. It involves making a cut just above the tail and then the insertion of a spike quickly and directly into the hind brain thereby causing immediate brain death. A fish brain is usually located slightly behind and above the eye. When spiked correctly, the fish fins flare and the fish relaxes, immediately ceasing all motion. The blood contained in the fish flesh retracts to the gut cavity, which produces a better coloured and flavoured fillet. If fish suffer pain, then this method seems to minimize the pain.

Ike Jime has been successfully used manually in the tuna and yellowtail industries along with limited use in sport and gamefishing, and provides a rapid slaughter technique with concurrent quality benefits. Rather than cutting their throats and leaving them to die by bleeding, research indicates it is better to use ike jime and put the fish straight into an ice slurry. Fish being exported to Japan and certain other markets should not be allowed to die naturally, but should be killed immediately after being brought on board by using Ike Jime method.
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The traditional blade is quite different from its Western knives. First, it is a hand laminated blade with a very hard steel face (Rc62 to Rc64) laminated to a wrought-iron back. The use of very hard steel requires the soft back both for the damping qualities and to provide an element of toughness that the steel face alone would not have. Second, a traditional Japanese knife has a hollow face for faster sharpening and to make it easier to maintain flatness.

source :  Watanabe Blade Specialist


The Art of Slicing Fish and Fowl in Medieval Japan
By Xenia Heinickel
In Western eyes, the delicately cut piece of food is often regarded as central to traditional Japanese cooking. The skilful use of the knife is indeed one of the most prominent features of the Japanese kitchen, and mastery of various cutting-techniques is a matter of course to the Japanese chef as well as to the ambitious homemaker. However, the origins of this focus on the knife as the most favored kitchen tool are not well understood. The search for these origins leads us back many a century to the world of classical and medieval Japan and to one of the least known of the Japanese arts:, the art of slicing the meats of fish and fowl.

The first traces of this art are to be found in the classical or Heian period (794-1185 CE). Heian Japan was a large aristocractic-bureaucratic state in which the court nobles held an unrivalled position as the political and cultural leaders. The core and center of their world was the capital Heiankyo (modern Kyoto), where the Emperor’s court and other spacious residences were situated There the nobles led leisurely lives, with their days dedicated to the refinement of various arts, aesthetic ideas, and pastimes, one of which was cooking.

source : www.medievalists.net


Hoochoodoo, hocho do 庖丁道 the way of the knife

Handed down since the Heian period with elaborate rituals.

Fujiwara Yamakage 藤原山陰
Father of Japanese Cuisine

Chunagon Fujiwara no Yamakage (824 - 888)

He was the founder of the Shijoo school of kitchen knives users (chefs), 四条流庖丁式の創始者, uniting the rituals performed at Shinto Shrines for the Deity Iwakamutsukari no Mikoto 磐鹿六雁命 initiated by 末裔高橋氏 .
Founder of the ceremony for the use of kitchen knives, ritual of the kitchen knife.
Yamakage-style kitchen knife wielding was later named after him.

Yamakage ryuu Hoochoo shiki 山陰流包丁式, this is the most famous cooking tradtion of itamae cooks handed down till now.
Performed on April 18 at the temple Soji-Ji (Soojiji 総持寺) Nr. 22 on the Saigoku Pilgrimage to 33 Kannon-Temples.
As a child, Yamakage has been saved by Kannon from a deathly peril and this temple is often visited by mothers. It also never burned down and this Kannon is therefore good for praying from fire protection (hiyoke Kannon).
Yamakage was a famous cook, famous for his use of the kitchen knife. He cooked for the sculptor for 1000 days while he carved the Kannon statue. During the "Knife Ceremony" special cuts are performed on fish lying on a manaita cutting block.

Outside in the garden is a "mound of kitchen knives" (hoochoozuka 包丁塚).

Shrine Yoshida Jinja was founded when Fujiwara Yamakage enshrined the guardian God of the Heian Capital here in 859 A.D.

There is another hoochoo shiki in Chiba prefecture.
God of Iwakamutsukari no Mikoto in Takabe Shrine

Toward the end of the Yayoi period, the story of Iwakamutsukari no Mikoto, the first-ever kitchen chef, is told in the Nihon-shoki chronicles of Japan.

The 12th emperor, Emperor Keikou 景行天皇, visited Awa no miya 安房の浮宮 to pay his respects to the late imperial prince Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. There he was presented with a dish called "Umugi no Namasu 白蛤の膾(うむぎのなます)" (clams, or in some versions, abalone or katsuo bonito). He liked this dish and gave the cook the surname Kashiwade no Omi 膳臣(かしわでのおみ) and appointed him to Kashiwade no Otomobe to be his chef.
This first cooking chef was enshrined as the god of cooking at Takabe Shrine in Chiba.

包丁式は、高家神社で行われます。日本で唯一料理の祖神, 磐鹿六雁命を祀った神社です。

. . . CLICK here for Photos of Takabe Shrine and the Knife Ritual!

Special Soft Senbei in memory of this knife ritual

. Ankoo hoonoo hoochoo shiki 鮟鱇奉納庖丁式
ceremony to cut an ankoo
at the shrine Oarai Isozaki Jinja, Ibaraki

包丁式 四條祭 View the ceremony here
source : www.youtube.com
Click on the other video provided on the left side for more.

The word "kappoo 割烹" or cuisine contains the real meaning of Japanese cooking.
It is made up of the character "katsu," which means "to cut 割," and "hoo 烹," which means "to boil."

Kiru ... Ways of cutting Japanese food


There are a number of different types of Japanese kitchen knives. The most commonly used types in the Japanese kitchen are the deba bocho (kitchen cleaver), nakiri bocho and usuba bocho (Japanese vegetable knives), and the tako hiki and yanagi ba (sashimi slicers).

Different from western knives, Japanese knives are often forged in a way that only one side holds the cutting edge, i.e. the bevel is only on one side.

Read the details here
quote * Japanese kitchen knives

Things found on the way

. Knives from Echizen .
Takefu Knife village (タケフナイフヴィレッジ)


. Kumamoto Folk Art and Craft - 熊本県  .

Kawajiri hoochoo 川尻包丁 Kawajiri Hocho Knives (Kawashiri)

- quote -
Kawajiri Knives
Passed down for more than 500 years, Kawajiri knives trace their origins to swordsmith Naminohira Yukiyasu, who lived during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). In the Edo Period (1603-1868), the area’s ruling Hosokawa family emphasized Kawajiri as a center of development, resulting in the cultivation of crafts such as shipbuilding, woodworking and sword-making, many of which have been passed on to this day.

Kawajiri blades are characterized by a manufacturing method known as warikomi-tanzo, or cut-in forging, which is still used today. High quality steel is inserted into a base metal known as goku-nantetsu, or extra-soft iron, and thoroughly tempered by hand. The blades made using this method are sharp, durable, and have a dignified beauty. It’s said that it takes at least 10 years to master this technique and become a sword-smith.

Prior to World War 2, Kawajiri knives were manufactured in about 50 shops, but as of 2013, just two smithies take on the entire manufacturing process. However, their high quality still boasts a strong brand power, and requests are made from throughout Japan.

Kawajiri thrived as a trading port from its early days, and various crafts, including Kawajiri knives, have been passed down to modern times. Visitors can find numerous traditional crafts represented in the Kawajiri shopping district, with demonstrations of knife-forging presented at the Kumamoto City Handcrafts Promotion Center located right in the area.

- 熊本県伝統工芸館 Kumamoto Dento Kogei Kan
- source : Japan brand 3361 -


Hamono Matsuri 刃物祭り Knife Festival - Cutlery Festival

Seki Town, Gifu 関市岐阜
source : city.seki.lg.jp


- quote
Tokyo Uchihamono 東京打刃物 Hand-Forged Blades
Traditional Technologies and Techniques
1- During forge welding, borax is inserted between the ferrite and steel portions of the workpiece, then the materials are heated to approximately 900°C (1,652°F) and swiftly struck with a hammer in order to combine them. Care must be taken to avoid overheating the materials, as doing so may result in loss of steel content.
2- Following heating in the forge, annealing is achieved by placing the workpiece in coal dust or straw ashes and allowing it to cool naturally.
3- During quenching, a workpiece that has been heated in the forge to approximately 800°C (1,472°F) until it glows uniformly red is quickly cooled through submersion in water, this increases the blade's hardness.
4- Following quenching, the blade is heated again at a low temperature in the forge to temper it while the craftsman monitors its surface appearance. This imparts suitable toughness to the blade.

Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Steel, ferrite - 鋼(はがね)、地鉄(じがね)

History and Characteristics
According to the Nihon Shoki, one of the oldest and most important chronicles of Japanese history, blacksmithing was first carried out in Japan in 583, when smiths were invited to Japan from the Korean Silla Kingdom during the reign of the Emperor Bidatsu 敏達 (the 30th emperor of Japan, reigned 572-585). The Japanese supposedly learned how to forge steel from these visiting smiths.

Swordsmiths appeared as the samurai class rose to power. These craftsmen steadily improved their skills, eventually devising a method of forming blades with soft iron and attaching steel along the cutting edges. This created the soft yet sharp-cutting blades that are unique to Japan.

After Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Shogunate in 1603, merchants moved to Edo from all over Japan. The names of metal casters and forging experts were also recorded among the lists of craftsmen who served the Shogunate.

The Edokanoko, one of the most informative general guidebooks to the city of the Edo Period, has a description about blacksmithing in relation to blades. It lists craftsmen who offered pointed carving knives (deba-bocho) that were formed through hammering. The guidebook tells us that swordsmiths also produced razors, kitchen knives and other bladed implements in addition to their main trade in swords.

Japan enjoyed a period of peace from the mid-Edo Period onward. During this time, an increasing number of swordsmiths changed their production focus, utilizing their smithing techniques to create the implements and blades needed for everyday life. In other words, many of them transformed themselves into town blacksmiths.

Following the fall of the Edo Shogunate and the Sword Abolishment Act of 1871, which prohibited ordinary people from carrying weapons, most of the remaining swordsmiths were forced to start making commercial and kitchen implements. They responded to the nation's Westernization (known as bunmei kaika, "the civilization and enlightenment movement") by applying their inherited skills to the manufacture of Western-style blades.

Tokyo Cutlery Industrial Association
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp

. Echizen uchi-hamono 越前打刃物 cutlery, hand-forged blades from Echizen .
Takefu Knife Village in Takefu 武生市


Miyabi Messer von Zwilling, Deutschland


hoochoo hajime 庖丁始(ほうちょうはじめ)
first use of the kitchen knife
kigo for the New Year


observance kigo for the New Year

. Tsuru no hoochoo 鶴の包丁 "cutting a crane" .
court ritual



aki nasu ya ura omote aru waboochoo

autumn eggplants -
the two sides of this
Japanese knife

source :  www.nhk.or.jp
Tr. Gabi Greve

Related words

History of Japanese Food Culture

Kiru ... Ways of cutting Japanese food

Chopping board (manaita まな板 / 俎板)

***** WASHOKU ... Tableware and Tools

Küchenmesser , Kochmesser #hoochoo #kitchenknife #wabocho




Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

29 Tokyo Uchihamono (Hand-Forged Blades)

Gabi Greve said...

Tanebasami, たねばさみ 種はさみ special scissors from Tanegashima

By 1543, when the first Tanebasami scissors were forged, sword-makers on the Japanese island of Tanegashima had been crafting precious ‘jewel steel’ into superlative blades for four hundred years and more.

The tradition continues today - Tanegashima’s edge-tools are renowned for their beauty, utility and craftsmanship.

Our Tanebasami (Tanegashima 'hasami', or scissors) look beautiful. They feel beautiful. They offer a cutting sense you won't have experienced before - the contrast between factory-fabricated stainless steel and a hand-forged blade in hardened high-carbon steel really is quite something.
I watched an old craftsman making these scissors.
Both sides are the same (for left hand or right hand use),
and since "two make a pair" these scissors are a well-loved gift for wedding parties.

Gabi Greve said...

Kochi Tosa knives
Kumamoto Kawajiri knives
Osaka Sakai knives
to explore here

Gabi Greve said...

Sanjo - Echigo hamono 三条打刃物 Echigo-sanjo cutlery