Flight went well and I got into my hotel about 9pm. It was kind of surreal getting on the subway at night and being a foot taller than everyone around me. I feel like i'm Godzilla here!
Day 1 I went to Konosuke's office and met everyone. It was really really fun to meet Kosuke's father, brother in law and his other 2 employees. I got a nice video of Kosuke's father hand engraving a knife that you guys will really enjoy if I can figure out how to upload it. Kosuke took me to this tiny ramen restaurant that was awesome. Only about 12 seats in the place all at a counter. They had a really cool ticket machine to buy your meal before you sat down.
We talked knives of course. I have 3 new project with them in the works. I am working on a Remedy 2 with them and we discussed grinds, profiles, steel types and handles. Thinking about doing wester, simple rosewood handle similar to the original, blue 2 steel. Hoping to get mono steel instead of san mai for these but not sure yet. We also have a really cool blue 2 honyaki gyuto orderd that you guys are going to like. They have beautiful grinds on them. I ordered several 240s and a few 210s and these are coming without handles so I can have some of our handle guys do customs on them.
You would have to mention the killer ramen that you can get in the little shops. Nothing like that here in San Francisco like that at all.
I was always amazed at how they knew exactly where in the around-the-block lines to take your order so that it was dropped in front of you seemingly in seconds after you getting your seat at the tiny counter.
Next stop was an afternoon at Naniwa. I bought a few new stones from them and a couple other items. I also discussed shipping with them and tried to figure out a way for them to ship me product more quickly so we don't run out. I also asked them to make the edge pro stones thicker and then we went out to dinner at a tofu resaurant. It was about 12 courses all using tofu and we washed it down with beer. Really fun to meet these guys and we had a good time but I was wiped out by the end of dinner.
Heard from a friend of mine that tofu dinner is actually very special and good in Japan. Tofu is something that every household can make, but if one can make a business out of it, it is something special, and not cheap.
Day 2 was one of the best days i've had running this business. I was picked up by one of the execs that runs a specialty steel mill that makes clad steel. If you have some clad knives with Hitachi core steels you most likely own some of their steel. For competitive purposes I can't tell their name or show the amazing videos I took of their process but I have a much better understanding of many aspects of what goes into these clad knives. Watching them hot roll steel was a great treat. They also showed me how extensively they check their batches for HRC and the process they use which was very informative. After the tour they drove me over to Hitachi steel and we checked out their heat treatment using a series of molten salt baths at different temperatures. It was wild to see all this stuff on a private tour. I loved it.
Then we drove into town and had a great meal at a little sushi restaurant. After that we went and visited a blacksmith that uses their steel and got to watch him hammer out some small blades for folders that we are going to carry soon. Took the Shinkansen bullet train back to the hotel and had dinner with my rep and then promptly passed out as soon as I hit the pillow at my hotel.
At this point I thought this would be the highlight of my week in Japan. I was wrong...