Impulse buys do make up some portion of my knife collection. Although, it's a bigger portion in my fixed knives and folding knives rather than in my kitchen knives. Well, this fugubiki form Shigefusa was one of those impulse buys. Someone posted on knife forums that it was available on Aframes Tokyo, my usual spot for buying hi-end Japanese kitchen knives. I went there, saw it was the kitaeji version and bough it right away. What is more important and exciting, I was absolutely happy and satisfied with this knife. I already had two other Shigefusa kitchen knives so, I can't say I was surprised. However, I had my expectations set very high and I wasn't disappointed. Another thing was, I already had one - Aritsugu 270mm fugubiki, which is a very sexy, slender and elegant knife. I just wondered that I haven't seen fugubikis longer than 270mm very often. I think I only have seen couple of the 300mm fugubikis from Masamoto. Later, I've learned that with long fugubikis the same problem arises as with longer yanagibas, actually it's more severe problem with fugubikis, as they're thinner, the long, thin blade is much harder to make straight. In other words, there's much higher chance of the bent blade after hardening and forging. Because of that only the most experiences masters tackle the job, and Mr. Iizuka is clearly one of them.
General- This wasn't a new knife. However, as Takeshi stated it was in a very good condition. The knife arrives packed in a box, but apparently the original box from Shigefusa has been lost, so what I had in the mailing box was the blade inserted in the saya. As usual, I've carefully examined the knife and saya. The knife itself, as the other knives from Shigefusa was simply superb. Even grind lines, very nice kitaeji pattern, absolutely straight blade, and no scratches or any other damage to the blade. For a knife 20 years old, that's how Takeshi estimates its age, it is indeed in a very good shape. The handle was also perfectly fitted, slim and slender, very good match to this slender fugubiki. The only defect or a problem I found was a crack on the says, around 40mm long. That was actually the least of my worries, as I can simply glue it with a wood or super glue. Besides, I don't really need a saya, but I keep it just in case. Obviously, the knife with 300mm(12") long blade has forward balance. Even though it is quite thin and rather narrow compared to its more hefty cousin Yanagiba. Initial sharpness was very high, and overall sharpening job was pretty good, but there are some dull spots on the mirror polished parts of urasuki. Later on, I am planning to polish the back side evenly, as this knife deserves :)
Blade- By definition or by design, Fugubiki is a knife for slicing delicate flesh of blowfish, or Fugu. So, in other words it is a super Yanagiba sort of. Super as in terms of pure cutting performance. Fuhibikis, or Fuguhikis are thinner, narrower and consequently much lighter than yanagibas. For comparison this 300mm Fugubiki weighs 153.8g, and at the same time 300mm Aritsugu Honkasumi Aoko Yanagiba weighs 230g and 300mm Aritsugu Wood Pattern yanagiba weighs in at 218g. Shigefusa blades have thicker section at the handle, to be precise, blade spine thickens sharply right after the heel, which extends all the way to the handle. Watanabe kitchen knives feature the same thick section of the blade spine, and as Shinichi explained to me, this is done to increase the balde rigidity. Makes sense, and works too ;) Throughout most of the spine the blade is just shy of 2mm thick, more precisely, 1.8mm for most of the blade, and 1.6mm in first 1/3 of the blade, except for the tip which obviously is thinning down to zero. Blade is also narrower compared to Yanagibas, but not by much, this particular fugu is 31mm at the heel, while the Aritsugu Honkasumi yanagiba mentioned above is 35mm wide. Although, Aritsugu 270mm AoKo Fugubiki Knife is a little bit narrower - 27mm, but it's a shorter knife too. As mentioned above, initial sharpness was very high. edge measurement with the calipers showed around 12° angle, and that's the total edge, as the other side is flat. Thinner than the straight razor blade by the way.
The kitaeji pattern is same as on the other Shigefusa kitchen knives. Based on that, I can deduce that the pattern hasn't changed much during last 20 years :) At any rate it looks beautiful. Long, slender blades with wide kiriba are perfect showcase for both, mirror polish and damascus patterns, and this knife is a perfect example for it. One thing I really have to mention, the level and quality of the surface finishing of the Shigefusa blades. Simply put, I haven't seen damascus pattern blade with the surface so smooth and polished. It's on the level of the mirror polished blades from other makers, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at this photo of Shigefusa Fugubiki, shows the polished surface pretty well.
Handle- Actually, it is one of the rare cases when I like the original hand enough to hesitate ordering a custom handle. So, for now I am not even decided. It's the standard magnolia wood handle, but does look much darker than any other handle from the same wood I have seen, and trust me I've seen enough of those, since that wood is pretty much standard handle material for Japanese kitchen knives. May be it was processed over and over again with some oil, may be it's just aging, one thing I can't claim is that I have ever seen 20 years old magnolia wood of any kind, let alone kitchen knife handle :) But, whatever it is, it's smooth, very well made and fits this slender knife very well. It is also one of the narrowest handles I have see on the knife of this size, and on many other knives for that matter. on the other hand, I like it that thin, more inviting to delicate cutting and you don't grip it like a broadsword. In short, very nice handle and if I replace it with something, it has to be a very special handle too. I said in many other reviews, I don't really like light colored handles, and that's the only thing that might make me to change this handle. I'll see how black handles work on other Shigefusas and then decide.
Usage- I'm not into fugu sashimi, but it's still a slicer. Major use is pretty close to designed use, in that I use it for protein slicing. Fish and meat. I use it quite often, at least once a week to be more precise. I'll update this section later on. But in short, the knife performs superbly and it's a joy to use.
- Blade - 292.00mm(11.5")
- Thickness - 3.60mm
- Width - 31.00mm
- OAL - 462.00mm(18.19")
- Steel - Swedish 63-64HRC
- Handle - Ho Wood
- Weight - 153.80g(5.2oz)
- Acquired - 07/2009 Price - 755.95$
- Aritsugu 270mm AoKo Fugubiki Knife Review
- Shigefusa 270mm Kitaeji Gyuto Knife Review
- Shigefusa 240mm Kitaeji Miroshi Deba Knife Review
Last updated - 07/09/12