The knife comes in in a nice dark blue box in Turquoise rice paper very carefully wrapped. The saya is a blue Ho saya with an inlay of black persimmon with Japanese characters (Hiragana) for the customer's name. Custom Hiragana or Kanji is individually determined and selected. The inlay is flush. The characters are hand carved and a gold or brass powder inlay is done for each stroke of each character and sealed, giving a one of a kind result. The saya is two pieces, perfectly aligned not showing any seam.
The knife and saya have both the customer's name and the Nubatama logo on the saya and the Kanji on the knife.
The knife fits the saya perfectly as demonstrated by dropping the knife in the saya and inverting it. No slippage at all - a perfect fit! No need for a pin at all.
The knife itself has a 'haze' going up from the edge from a natural stone finish. You can also see the demarcation between the core 'black steel' and the cladding. Black steel is a carbon type steel (it develops a patina) that holds it's edge exceptionally well. I own a knife like this one for my own use at home and have yet to require more than a bit of occasional stropping with some compound after over a year of use to maintain it's sharpness.
These Nubatama knives are available at Chefknivestogo.com . In addition to the handle on this knife alternative handles are available using more exotic woods. The knifemaker will allow these to be done and still retain his name (Nubatama) as an assurance that the handles will be of high quality.
Nubatama knives also include single bevel knives, left handed knives (30% more) and knives in shirogami (white) steel and blue steel (Aogami). Black steel is the more difficult of the three and requires a great deal of skill to use. This level of skill is also reflected in his precise heat treatment of shirogami and aogami steel knives too. The knifemaker is himself left handed and unlike the many knifemakers asking for an additional 50% more for left handed knives, he charges 30% additionally. He makes yanagis, usubas and debas and is willing to make other styles as well, eg a left handed honesuki or custom traditional single bevel knives. He can make yanagis as long as 450 mm - more commonly up to 360 mm. Custom knives will take several months to deliver, but more standard sizes have quicker turnarounds. Mark at Chefknivestogo does have some Nubatama knives in inventory at all times too. Contact me (or Mark) for custom requests.
The background stone in this video is an Izari, a natural stone from Tanaka Toishi of Kyoto, who I represent. This knifemaker comes highly recommended by them.
"I love the saya. Does it come in different sizes?"
Yes. EACH saya is made individually for each knife - custom fit. For that reason, they are not interchangeable. Custom knives may typically take approximately 4 months to make, but at times there will be exceptions.
So far - in a home use environment, all that has been required has been to strop it with a few strokes with some eighth micron CBN. It just keeps going and going and going. The core black steel does develop a nice patina. Other than hand wash and dry after use, that's all. Obviously it shouldn't be left soaking, put in dishwashers or other things you wouldn't do to any good knife. I have the identical knife minus the custom Kanji for over a year, perhaps almost 2.