“Iron and steel both get rusty.” As someone who was a recent science and engineering graduate, this was an immutable truth to him. However, the customers at the store would all ask him for a “kitchen knife that cuts well and doesn’t rust.” While a steel knife would regain its cutting ability if you sharpened it, it would become rusty if you used it. As he didn’t want to tell them that rust is only natural, his customers’ requests ignited a desire in him to try and develop something by himself. He intensively read over the bulky scientific textbooks, that he’d only begrudgingly scanned while he was at university, and stainless steel, which cuts well, came to his attention.

 

Although he was refused by domestic steel manufacturing companies when he tried to negotiate buying up stocks as the amounts were considered too small, an Austrian company met his requests for direct transactions of small amounts. In 1954, the first Edelweiss kitchen knife, which was solid, sharp and didn’t rust, was made by a factory that he had commissioned, that was located in Senju. Even though it was a cutlery store, he equipped it with machines that wouldn’t have been out of place at a large manufacturer, such as a Honda sharpness testing machine to objectively verify the knives’ sharpness, a Vickers’ hardness tester and even a metallurgical microscope. With continual improvements, he has developed respected products that are sold at famous department stores nationwide. Furthermore, the development of products using special raw materials, such as scissors and a variety of original cutting tools, has led to new demand. At the same time, he also deals with the traditional and valuable works of blacksmiths with great care.

 

Mr. Kato’s unique style as a cutlery merachant continues to further the world of cutlery, in both a scientific and cultural sense. That attitude, from taking in orders from users that are craftsmen, and forever assembling even better quality products, shines through in the old traditions of Kiya since 1792.

 

Toshio Kato

Born in Tokyo in 1926. Graduated from Waseda University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Applied Metallurgy in 1950 and started working at Kiya. Became Representative Director and President in 1992, and Chairman in 2009. Literary works, “Hamono arekore : Kinzokugaku kara mita kireaji no himitsu” (co-authored with Kentaro Asakura/AGNE Gijutsu Center), etc.

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)