Sharpening Your Knives in New York

It may look like a real sword, but no, I have not taken up swordfighting.

What you’re seeing is a very special tuna knife! This specialized knife is used to cut up an entire tuna fish, which can grow up to six feet long!

This past weekend I took a wonderful (but short) trip to New York City. Bryan and I enjoyed a lot of Japanese culture this time, everything from visiting a Japanese knife shop to eating our favorite sushi and trying handmade soba noodles.

One of the highlights of our trip was a special visit to the Korin Japanese Trading Company (a place that sells to the likes of Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, and Masaharu Morimoto) in downtown where I got my special Japanese knives sharpened by the greatest knife sharpening master in the US.
Meet Chiharu Sugai, the master knife sharpener at Korin. Sugai is of a rare breed, one of very few people who has been trained in the art of Japanese knife sharpening. Sugai studied knife sharpening in Sakai City, the hub of samurai sword and knife making since the 1300’s. Yearning to learn more, Sugai sought out the great Shouzou Mizuyama, an 84-year old knife sharpening master known as one of the top knife sharpeners in Japan.

Until Sugai, Mizuyama had never fully revealed all his hidden techniques to anyone. After some persistence (Sugai showed up at Mizuyama’s workshop everyday for three years), Mizuyama agreed to take Sugai under his wing as his first ever true apprentice. Sugai is the only person ever to have been given free access to observe, study, and train under Mizuyama.
Sugai continues to travel to Japan multiple times a year, honing his skills in the art of knife sharpening under his master. He sharpens knives for some of the top Japanese chefs in New York, such as Nobu and Morimoto.
Although Sugai is already an expert at what he does (and is even training up his own apprentice here in New York), he still reverently refers to Mizuyama as a “genius” when it comes to knife sharpening.
This past weekend, I had the unique opportunity to watch Sugai in action as he sharpened my knives in New York. He let me follow him into the basement of the store – his workshop where he does his magic.
It’s pretty incredible to see the number of steps that go into sharpening a knife.
My words don’t do it justice. Check out this video I made instead, where you can watch him in action!

This month is the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. Korin Trading Company is donating all proceeds from knife sharpening services this month to benefit Japan. If you are in New York and have some knives that need to be sharpened, definitely consider Mr. Sugai. It’s hard to find someone else who has trained for so long in the art of knife sharpening to sharpen your knives!

I seriously consider it a privilege to have my knives sharpened by him!

Korin Japanese Trading Company
57 Warren Street
New York, New York

Disclaimer – Korin provided the knife sharpening services to me at no charge

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