CIBI welcomes you into the inspiring studio of Takeshi-san, sole craftsperson and owner of Otsuki knives. Follow the river north from Okayama City to Takahashi City in the beautiful countryside of Okayama prefecture is home to Otsuki. Takeshi-san meticulously transforms blocks of solid metal into refined blades, forging, sharpening, and assembling each knife by hand. These pieces offer intuitive beauty, form, and functionality designed for purpose.

Otsuki-san also specialises in making farming tools such as sickles & spears for Gobo (Japanese burdock), lotus root, peeling wild nuts, and pruning stone fruit trees in winter.


Okayama Fest
Meet the Maker Q&A
CIBI recently undertook a road trip across the beautiful landscape of Okayama Prefecture, Japan to Meet the Maker of our favourite Okayama designers, craftspeople and manufacturers to reveal the stories behind the products we are proud to share at Okayama Fest.

Otsuki knife owner Takeshi-san and CIBI sit down for a chat


CIBI How long have you been crafting Japanese knives?

Takeshi-san It will be 54 years this year.


CIBI The tradition of Japanese knives is very rich, how is this tradition passed down from one generation to the next?

Takeshi-san In the past, there was an apprenticeship system where people would become apprentices to craftsmen and learn techniques while sharing clothing, food and housing. I didn't have a manual, so I looked, tried, failed, and honed my skills. Nowadays, people who want to become blacksmiths are rare, and the number is very small. I want to pass on this Japanese culture to future generations.


CIBI How did you acquire and develop your skills, and did you complete an apprenticeship or work alongside a mentor or master?

Takeshi-san I became an apprentice at the age of 23, and after 12 years of training, I became independent. My master was a strict man but blacksmithing suited my personality, so I never disliked it. It's fun and rewarding to make not only knives but also various products according to customers’ requests.


CIBI What is a typical day look like for you in the workshop/studio?

Takeshi-san In the morning, I perform a forging process called fire making. Put the iron in the fire and hit it with a hammer to adjust the shape and thickness. I often do sharpening work in the afternoon.


CIBI How long does it take to craft a single knife from beginning to end?

Takeshi-san In the case of kitchen knives, I make about 50 at a time and it takes about 5 days due to heat treatment.


CIBI What temperatures are required when forging metal to create a knife?

Takeshi-san 800-900 degrees Celsius.


CIBI Japanese knives are very popular outside of Japan, why do you think this is the case?

Takeshi-san After all, isn't it the best sharpness and longevity


CIBI What type of Japanese knife would you recommend for a home cook who has never owned one?

Takeshi-san I would recommend a Bunka Knife (Santoku Knife). It is an almighty kitchen knife that can process all kinds of ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables with one knife.