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 Post subject: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:53 pm 
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Location: Madison Wisconsin
I just started discussing this with a few of my suppliers in Japan. I would love to promote and develop young people in Japan to take up the profession of being a blacksmith and knife sharpener. If more young men don't see this as a viable profession the current artisans will retire and this very unique and cool industry will decline and disappear. It's already happening and if you look at the photos of the current blacksmiths on our site you will notice there are very few young people involved.

The question is how would I be able to help this along? I have a few ideas but I want you guys to think out of the box and give me some suggestions.



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:29 am
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Location: Philippines
take me to japan, i'd be more than willing to do that. lol. seriously.

hmmm....lemme think.


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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:56 pm 
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NO!......Take Me!!! I'll show them a hard days work which will make them all want to go to college. Wait...that would be counter productive wouldn't it?!



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:02 pm 
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Short of doing what you're already doing in so much as you're finding all these smaller craftsman (Goko is a prime example)....which is amazing BTW....I think just continuing to search those types of guys out will help tremendously. Otherwise, has any thought been given to setting up a training methodology.....technical schools and such?



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
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I'm a Protocol Officer in the Canadian Navy and coincidentally, this very topic has come up.
In 2011, three Japanese warships came to Halifax, I was very involved in the visit of the ship and worked closely with some of the crew. 700 Japanese sailors, they loved the visit and we loved having them.
It wasn't long before we were talking about knives and knife sharpening and this exact topic came up, the more senior folks onboard, extremely proud of the artisans at home but worried about the future. One guy even brought out a genuine Katana sword draped in exquisite cloths wrapped around the blade out of the bowels of the ship to show me. The people I spoke to, had at my home were absolutely fascinated with the process and they beamed with pride when I showed them the Naniwa Chosera stones.

The trip was such a success that they are coming back this year and I've already been in contact with the Embassy and once again the topic of knives came up. From what I have seen, and this is just from talking to sailors and I talked to many, they have a vast interest in this but as you are hinting, have absolutely no idea where to get started. In fact, some of them have not even seen a Japanese hand made knife, they knew all about Henckels though, seriously. .

It would be cool if I had one here to show them, and how beautiful they are and that if someone "back home" actually made it and they could too.

None of this is useful of course, I just find it coincidental that I have discussed this topic before. There is a way ahead here, just have to find the key but socializing the idea and igniting their pride in what could be their products is just one of the steps. There are another 700 sailors coming, they have brothers and Uncles.....there has to be an apprentice in there. I can see myself now walking onboard with a knife to show them....cool.


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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:02 pm 
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I asked about the idea of technical schools and I have not heard about any yet. Most of these guys run small shops. Some are like Shosui but most of them are basically doing contract work for larger companies. They apprentice young guys and make them agree to work for them for a few years or more.

The coolest way would be to set up an actual shop and hire people. :) I don't think I'm going to do that but there may be a middle ground. Perhaps I can find a blacksmith that would agree to take on a new guy and offer a different line of knives within the shop that feature the apprentice at a lower price point to get him established. I don't know, I'll kick this around with some of the Sakai guys and see what they say about it.



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:13 pm 
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Just as with skilled trades here in the U.S. there has to be vocational training, trade schools and apprenticeship programs that start at least at the high school level to get the younger generations interested and a way into the field.
Going to vocational school my junior year of high school got me interested in refrigeration. I've been working in that field for over 20yrs now.



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:22 am 
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I actually applied to go to technical school when I was in 8th grade. I wanted to be a carpenter. They accepted me but assigned me to tool and die (Manchester Ct was right near Pratt and Whitney and they had lots of tool and die shops in the area) so I bailed out. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I went. I still think carpentry is an interesting job.



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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:35 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:12 pm
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Times change. I believe that there will always be a place for bladesmiths, but with the economies of scale from mass production and improving technologies like Powdered Metallurgy I'm afraid that the viability of artisan workshops will diminish even further.

What I find interesting though is the apparently expanding phenomenon of older folk (often retirees) entering the field of bladesmithing and custom knifemaking - and why not? Many of them have a trade background - and retirement isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Working on something you love even if it's only part-time sure beats sitting around doing almost nothing all day whilst on restricted income.........


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 Post subject: Re: The Apprentice
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:44 pm
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Why must this happen in Japan?


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