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  • City of Knives and Swords: Seki City

  • Good morning!

  • I traveled all the way from Tokyo

  • to this spot

  • Seki City in Gifu Prefecture for

  • thehamono festivalor the Cutlery Festival

  • held on a weekend in October.

  • Japan makes some of the best knives all over the world

  • and today we're going to get a chance to see some of them

  • because Seki is the center of knives

  • and swords

  • and apple peelers ...

  • and scissors

  • and razor blades

  • and where exactly is Seki you may ask?

  • It's down there in Central Japan's Gifu Prefecture

  • a short trip from Nagoya, Japan's fourth largest city.

  • It's at the base of many mountains giving it loads of clean, fresh water.

  • Spreading out from the city center

  • are a lot of things to see and do.

  • Welcome to Seki.

  • Let's have a quick look around.

  • Seki is a charming place.

  • Mino is a town nearby known for paper.

  • It has an old well preserved village area.

  • This is Monet's Pond

  • because it really does look like a painting,

  • carp swimming through water color.

  • The rivers are pristine

  • and famous for Ayu sweet fish.

  • This countryside restaurant

  • prepares Ayu fish in so many different ways.

  • Seki also has fantastic river unagi, chargrilled eel!

  • One of my favorite dishes,

  • don't miss out on unagi,

  • with that slightly sweet and salty soy taste that spreads

  • deliciousness over the eel and rice

  • and this smile on my face.

  • We've come here for the HAMONO MATSURI

  • Seki's cutlery festival

  • where it's world famous knife makers show off and sell their goods

  • often at discounted prices.

  • This is the Seki Hamono Matsuri or Cutlery Festival.

  • There are 43 stands here so

  • if you're in the market for a knife

  • This is the place to be!

  • It's a showcase of knives.

  • Seki is one of the most famous historical sites

  • for samurai swords

  • but after World War Two, the industry shifted to cutlery

  • and they take pride in the many different products they produce.

  • The Seki name is a brand in itself.

  • At this festival, you'll find rare and unique stock from vendors,

  • the craftsmanship without question some of the best in the world.

  • The events at the Hamono Festival spill out all over the city.

  • You'll find knives made from all kinds of strong materials.

  • These knives are made from stone

  • and cut like a champ.

  • I was looking to buy an all-purpose knife

  • 15 to 18 centimetres long.

  • I have one question

  • Aren't they expensive?

  • 20,000 to 23,000 yen! (US$200 to $230)

  • They're expensive, right?

  • Well, for people who do not cook much

  • it may seem expensive

  • but the materials used are special

  • professional grade materials.

  • Even the handle is polished by hand.

  • It's more of a work of art than a knife.

  • Is it like a samurai sword at all?

  • Not so much as a katana,

  • but much of the process is close to it.

  • The thing that really stands out to me is

  • the pattern of the knife

  • That's right.

  • This is called Damascus Steel,

  • abd the material is unique to Japan.

  • It is really popular overseas.

  • It has 67 layers.

  • What does the pattern mean?

  • There are different types of Damascus Steel.

  • The one here is called pattern-weld steel.

  • This is not a print, but each of them is layered.

  • 67 layers in total.

  • Modifying that gives it a different design.

  • The brand is Mcusta.

  • Yes.

  • Why is Mcusta in Seki?

  • Seki City has a long history with the katana.

  • Going back to the Kamakura Era (1185 to 1330).

  • It has continued until now.

  • After the World War 2, the knife industry boomed.

  • So for scissors, pocket knives,

  • kitchen knives and razors,

  • we have the biggest share in Japan.

  • So from the history of the samurai sword

  • That's right. Started way back from there.

  • So, Seki is known for its knives now

  • because of its history with samurai swords.

  • And you see the quality in what they make today

  • it's the same kind of quality that they made

  • hundreds of years ago when the samurai were still in existence

  • and that's why Seki thrives as

  • a knife making centre today.

  • I'm looking for an all-purpose knife

  • that can do it all but also beautiful.

  • What do you recommend?

  • What you often see in a household is

  • the Santoku size. This one is most popular.

  • This was made to be able to cut

  • meat, fish or vegetables

  • This is the one I recommend the most.

  • I loved the handle and the balance.

  • The weight was perfect.

  • Never in all my life did I ever think

  • I was going to spend about $180

  • on one knife, but

  • The quality, the workmanship, the history

  • eventhing makes this such

  • a really valuable thing

  • I'll have for all of my life.

  • I'm definitely going to buy it at this Hamono Festival.

  • I brought my knife to a high end restaurant in Seki

  • that served the area's top wagyu beef.

  • I wanted my knife to sink its teeth into something beautiful right away.

  • This is Hida Gyu.

  • Gifu Prefecture's premium wagyu beef.

  • This is a generous cut.

  • And this

  • Seki-made knife.

  • Hida Beef is a top Japanese beef brand

  • from Gifu that rivals Kobe and Matsuzaka beef.

  • Although not a challenge to cut,

  • it seems the perfect compliment to my Seki knife.

  • My new knife is beautiful.

  • The handle is red wood,

  • the three rivets look great.

  • The handle made for crushing garlic.

  • The Damascus steel pattern

  • a combination of steel that makes it light, strong and razor sharp.

  • Knife in paradise.

  • Now it's my turn to sink my teeth into that steak.

  • Hida gyu just melts in your mouth,

  • not as oily as Kobe beef, even more tender

  • and more than satisfying after a day of knife shopping.

  • No need to say another word.

  • SAMURAI SWORDS!

  • A performance at center stage during Seki's hamono festival

  • showed the discipline and skill of the samurai

  • and the importance of their sword.

  • In the Seki Sword Tradition Museum,

  • you can see many of their swords on display.

  • Seki has been a center for swords for over 700 years

  • and they are very proud of that history.

  • This is a real samurai sword. Weight: 1.0 -1.3 kilograms.

  • They are dedicated to the materials and the craft,

  • and it shows in their skill

  • a focus on perfection with acute attention to every detail.

  • You can see a Traditional Japanese Sword Forging Demonstration

  • at least 4 times a year here

  • and during the Hamono Festival.

  • Air is pumped into the fire to make it very hot.

  • Temperatures reach about 1350 Celsius

  • which makes the steel soft without melting.

  • It's needs to be soft for this:

  • Hammering it flattens it out so that it can be cut and folded over

  • which strengthens the steel.

  • It's put back in the fire then the process is repeated,

  • each time making the steel stronger.

  • It's cut and bent back then folded.

  • It's folded front to back and then side to side

  • to create a cross pattern for strength

  • and this also eliminate any voids in the metal.

  • A typical samurai sword is folded 10-15 times.

  • This not only makes it stronger, folding the steel removes impurities