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A little about Mr. Doi

Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:49 am

Hello Mark,

I've been collecting moslty Brazilian custom knives in the past 10 years and now getting also a enthusiast of Japanese style knives.
I got in my collection a Masamoto KK Yanagi which is the best Japanse knife you can find in Brasil and a few of other Yanagi and Gyuto made by Brazilian knife makers.
Therefore i am quite interested in acquiring a good hand made Yanagi and would like to hear your recommedations. Checking your web site i was quite interested on Mr. Doi's Blue steel 270 or 300 mm and would like to have details of it: Are these knives on sale 100 pct made by Mr. Doi? Or only forged by him and finished/sharped by others? How's the handles of it? Octogonal or traditional Japanese shape?

Besides that, i would like also to hear your recommendations for a knife that are a hand made and shows the Japanese style/skills of it's blade smith.



Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:13 am

Without asking Mr. Doi if he completely finished this one knife, I'd wager money that he did not completely make it.

He is a forger....others made and installed the handle and finish ground/sharpened the blade.

Takeda is good example of a handmade Japanese knife. Although I doubt he completely makes his knives either. I'm sure the handles are made elsewhere.

Although I'm sure there are some knife makers in Japanese who make their knives soup to nuts, I would not consider that the norm. I would consider this especially true of the single bevel knives.

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:49 am

Hi Luiz,

Adding to what my friend Adam just wrote, Keijiro Doi was a blacksmith so he was responsible for only one important part of the knife making process which was heat treating and hammering out the blade into the rough shape of a knife. He then passed the knife off to the blade grinder for finishing and then to the handle maker for handle instalation. Takayuki had Doi making knives for them for a long time and they act as a general contractor and wholesaler and it's under this brand that the knife is made. Mr. Doi retired last year and they are still selling off the remaining knives that they stock piled. Doi's mark is on the tang.

This process of production has been going on in Sakai for over a century and it allows for small shop owners to pool their talents and offer great blades at a reasonable cost. They tend to cost more than production, factory knives but less than full custom knives.

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:27 am

Mark, Adam

Was just wondering - It seems that Keijiro Doi also made knives for Suisin (Hayate).

Those cost more than double what the equivalent Sakai Takayuki Doi knife would cost.

Would anyone care to speculate why this might be the case?

Would there be any qualitative difference between two equivalent knives - i.e. between a 300mm Blue Steel Doi Yanagiba distributed by Sakai Takayuki and the one distributed by Suisin?



Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:14 am

They're for Suisin!

The rest, to me at least, looks like marketing hype.

There could be differences...sure. Keijiro Doi might be the forger for both, but the rest of the craftsman might not be.

However, at the end of the day.....the Sakai Takayuki is going to be a great knife.

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:40 pm

No big diff between them based on quality of the knife in my opinion.

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:44 pm

if I may step in here, I had the pleasure of being in Sakai earlier this week and visited both Takayuki & Knife System among many and handled several pieces of Doi's work (yanagi-ba and variations)

In terms of F&F, both are excellent works of craftsmanship, and I can't honestly say I would expect meaningful performance difference in my hands. Thus far I think Doi's works must be in the top 3 makers for traditional Japanese knives I've seen on my trip (so far standing at 12 makers)

Back to differences--again, there isn't a lot I could discern in the short time frames (I handled them within the same day, but not side by side). The Hayates seemed to come with a slightly different handle-a bit thicker in the hand probably leading to what I felt was a slight difference in weight distribution. The Takayuki's seemed a touch lighter across the blade as well. Physically the blades are not 100% alike-having a few Takayukis side-by-side showed some differences, as did having the Hayates--however these knives are handmade so I wouldn't have expected such. Doi's pieces do seem somewhat distinguishing though, as they typically come in a little heavier/thicker than what other makers produce

Regarding pricing, think its worthwhile highlighting Suisin offers the "Light" Hayate series, which is actually basically priced in the same bracket as the Sakai Takayuki - in Knife System they basically took out their full Doi offering to show me which was somewhat intimidating. Immediate aesthetic difference of light Hayate versus regular--they use different handles. Based on my broken Japanese and conversation with Suisin, supposedly the regular Hayate has some acknowledgement from Doi himself and pieces he put in his top 10%. While the Light has no major imperfections, the maker's own approval seems to raise the price considerably. Unfortunately, this also almost doubles the price... I asked Suisin a few questions regarding differences -most answers were pretty vague and ended up with a response that Doi was the one who categorized the quality of blades-seems it would even be possible to visit Doi and ask him personally but I didn't have the time nor do I reckon my Japanese would be advanced enough. Ultimately I sort of took it as a flagship versus second line analogy for wines. not sure if this was exactly what they meant but I had already been in the shop over an hour and needed to move on (so many makers, so little time)

What I can say for certain is the Suisin Hayate purchase involves a fair bit more 'fanfare' - you get a very elaborate wooden box, there were special (some weird) sayas to choose from (other than standard magnolia), and there's a "license number" for each individual Hayate. While the folks at Takayuki did highlight their Doi pieces, it wasn't really marketed as much as a special item-just one of several makers they had on stock. Neither knife-maker was very specific about when their Doi pieces were made, but Takayuki seemed to have been working with him for decades whereas Suisin's Hayate line seemed relatively young - I leave this to you to consider and interpret as you like.

for full disclosure, let me make clear that I ultimately purchased a Suisin Hayate Kengata Yanagiba 300mm. I wanted a Doi, had bought a fair number of knives already, and figured I should buy something skewed towards the "collector's item" category--but the bang for buck decision would probably have been the Sakai Takayuki. I did purchase a Sakai Takayuki hocho, but not their Doi knives.


Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:35 am

Cool post. Thanks! I would love to see some pictures of Sakai if you have them or Takayuki etc.

I can't remember exactly who told me this but I'm pretty sure Takayuki and Suisin are both run by brothers and Suisin was formed by the younger brother after he decided to go his own way. I'll ask to make sure and come back and update.

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:31 am

That's a very interesting read....thanks!! :)

Re: A little about Mr. Doi

Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:16 am

Great post.

For anyone interested here's a few photos of my Doi Blue Steel Yanagiba Mirror which I got from Mark.

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