Sakai City is known

for high-quality, locally produced knives.

Find the Perfect Knife for You – Expertly Crafted Sakai Knives

Senshu’s Sakai City is home to high quality knives and tools, with a history of blacksmithing that dates back as far as the 5th century. Visit some of the knife workshops and the Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum to learn more about this enduring tradition.

The Origins of Sakai Blades

Artisans use a piece of wood to sharpen knives on a whetstone.

Dating back to the 5th century, Sakai has a long history of ironware production. Large burial mounds (kofun) characterized by their unique keyhole structure were built in the vicinity for individuals of high status at the time, such as emperors and princes. The most famous of them all is the Tomb of Emperor Nintoku (Daisen Kofun), a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ironwork production started in the area in part to meet the increasing demand for the construction of these massive tombs.


With the increase of military action throughout the Heian period (794-1185), blade smiths also began creating katana, Japanese swords. A shift towards producing smaller blades as cutlery occurred in the Edo period (1603-1868), when tobacco was introduced into Japan from Portugal, and knives were used to cut it. Tobacco was eventually cultivated in Japan which led to an increase in demand for manufacturing tobacco knives. The knives produced in Sakai were sharper than those that could be imported—in order to ensure the quality and exclusive sales rights, producers were granted permission by the Tokugawa Shogunate to stamp each piece with the “Sakai Kiwame” seal.


In 1982, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently operating under the name of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) designated Sakai Blades as a traditional craft, thanks to the traditional methods used when forging knives. In 2007 the brand name “Sakai Uchi-Hamono” was registered in order to distinguish knives forged in Sakai from those made elsewhere. These specialty knives are coveted by chefs and other industry professionals.

Baba Cutlery Works

Baba Cutlery Works utilizes techniques and traditions practiced in Sakai for over 600 years.

Founded in 1916 by Kuniharu Baba, and currently owned by the fourth generation within their family, Baba Cutlery Works has been producing knives to challenge well-known brands in terms of quality and sharpness. The founder also served as the first chairman of Sakai Cutlery Industrial Cooperative, which was founded in 1951. Their vision is to pass on their groundbreaking traditional methods of creating knives worthy of the “Sakai Uchi-Hamono” brand to future generations.


The manufacturing process varies depending on the type of knife. Knives that are created using only one type of metal are called honyaki, but many knives are created with a blend of two metals in order to make them easier to make, easier to use, and more durable. A combination of hard steel (hagane) and soft iron (jigane) are used in the manufacturing process, which is called awase. The reason for using two types of metal is that steel is considered too hard to create a blade on its own, where iron is too weak—the knives are a combination of both. Sheets of both metal are placed together and hammered to create the shape, before being sharpened to expose the hard steel edge for cutting. While a sharp edge is of course important, so too is the ability to easily sharpen and maintain the knife. Awase knives are generally much easier to care for, which is why the style is so popular.


To help stand out from competitors and larger brands, Baba Cutlery Works utilizes techniques and traditions handed down for over 600 years. They also strive to push the industry forward—by consulting with artisans and experts, and focusing on aspects of design, ease of use, and other factors to make their products more suitable for modern consumers. Anyone looking for a lifelong knife that is durable, easy to use, and easy to care for should definitely check out their product line.

Feel the difference by testing out ordinary knives against those made in Sakai.

It is said that this comparison in quality is difficult to explain using words alone, because it also depends on the individual’s preferences when making cuts. However, Baba Cutlery Works provides cutting experiences whereby visitors are able to experience making cuts in thick vegetables such as radishes and carrots using commercially produced knives and knives produced at their in-house workshop. Experiencing the difference is one of the best ways to understand the quality of knives made in Sakai.


The cutting experience also comes with a tour, and is also available from ¥2,500 per person. Advanced reservations are required. Knives for various different purposes such as cutting vegetables, raw fish, and all-purpose knives manufactured in their workshop are also available for purchase on-site. Prices start from ¥10,000. However, the shop owners encourage visits even if you’re only interested in window shopping.

Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum

There’s a large variety of blades and knives on display at the Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum.

For visitors who want to learn more about Sakai Blades, and to see knives from a range of workshops located in Sakai, head over to Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum. The second floor museum currently showcases over 100 different types of knives produced by over 50 workshops in the local area. Each knife has been manufactured for a specific purpose, such as cutting thin slices of raw fish without damaging cells or to create thin sheets of vegetables.


The first floor has the Square of Craftsmanship, where many types of Sakai knives are on display. The museum also runs various experiences such as sharpening and maintenance workshops on weekends. Experiences and dates vary. There is also a shop, Sakai Ichi, where a variety of traditional local goods—such as dyed yukata, kombu, rugs, blankets, incense, sweets, and more—are available for purchase. In addition, knives can be purchased as well, and prices start around ¥6,000.

Beautiful knives engraved with the Sakai seal of quality.

It is recommended to visit the museum by public transport though limited parking spaces are available on-site. It is a 20-minute walk from Sakai Station served by the Nankai Main Line or a short walk from Myokokuji-mae Station on the Hankai Tramway.


There are hands-on tours to fully enjoy Sakai. For more information, contact the Senshu Japan Concierge Team.

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