Shoichi Hashimoto calls himself a “Modelling Knifemaker” (造形刃物作家). At first you might wonder WTH does this mean, but once you go through some of his work, it suddenly makes perfect sense: Shoichi is an artist, a sculptor, and a knifemaker. Shoichi always design his work from scratch, then makes all the niecessary components, forges the Damascus steel himself and even sharpen the knife: a 100% one-man work.
(A complex, detachable Damascus dagger, 双葉フタバFutaba (Double Leaves), by Shoichi Hashimoto, with matching saya.)
Born in the city of Hiroshima in 1982, Shoichi finished his arts degree in design and modelling from the Hiroshima City University and continued as a research assistant in metal arts and design.
Under the direction of his master Takanori Mikami, Shoichi has been actively making crazily beautiful Damacus knives and won multiple awards over the years.
You might be wondering, why I never heard this Hashimoto guy. Interestingly, at the same age as me (80s) who grow up with all the electrical gadgets and iPhone, he is a guy that is still using an old (non-smart) flip phone, takes orders via fax, and communicates via email. As a result, he is not on social media and has little presence online (contrary to the social network trend).
Shoichi does often attend knife shows, including the Seki Knife Show, Tokyo Knife Show and even the New York Custom Knife Show. So the next time around if you see Shoichi at a knife show, do check out his work and say hi.
(Shoichi Hashmoto is a regular attendee of the Seki Knife Show)
(The original draft artwork, which would eventually be realized into an actual knives by Shoichi, this particular artwook is on display at Knives and Stones' Sydney showroom)
Knives by Shoichi Hashimoto
If you ask me to summarize Shoichi’s work? Creative, bold, sophisticated and extravagant.
Take this “Suigetu” hunter as an example: while the tang on most knives are arguably the “ignored” part, Shoichi took a huge effort to craft out the ripple details. This resulted in a seamless integration between the handle and the saya, which is also crafted by him. This is a vast contrast to most knife makers who will pair their knife with a generic leather sheath.
(酔月スイゲツ Suigetu, the “Drunk Moon” by Shoichi Hashimoto, the creative grooves design seamlessly integrates the knife with the sheath)
The Lance of Longinus
If you happen to be into a bit of Japanese anime, you probably have at least heard of the title “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, which has a very cool weapon “Lance of Longinus”. (Sidenote: The “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is a culturally significant anime of Japan, if you love anything Japan related, you should probably watch the original TV series, I absolutely LOVE this title).
(EVA Unit 02 pierced through by the Lance of Longinus, Copyright: Gainax)
In 2012, together with his master Mikami Takanori (who is a highly regarded sword maker) replicated of the Lance of Longinus, emphasizing the high level of detail with the pronounced effect of Tamahagane & Damascus. Weights over 22 kg and 3.3 meters, the artwork received a lot of media coverage and even had a tour around Japan.
(The Lance of Longinus, a symbolic artifact of the animne Neon Genesis Evangelion, was replicated by Shoichi Hashimoto and his master Takanori Mikami. Image credit: livedoor.com, air-nifty.com)
If you think a few thousand layers of Damascus, comprised of more than half a dozen materials can be classified as “Sophisticated”, then check out the pizza cutter below.
The main cutter is in exotic sanmai construction, with the sides made from his signature Damascus cladding and a high carbon core (GO5 steel); and most importantly each individual component is made entirely by himself using his own materials ((information provided by Shohichi Hashimoto):
- Cutter: 2589-layer clad, GO5 core (0.7% carbon)
- Shaft: Mokume 63 layers
- Bolt / others : Mokume 44 layers
- Handle: exhibition grade hardwood timber
I call this, SOPHISTICATED
(The Pizza Cutter by Shoichi Hashimoto, Image credit: Tomo Hasegawa)
(This sophisticated pizza cutter is one of Shoichi’s signature pieces)
Some of Shoichi’s work can only be described as extravagant. Able to come with such bold designs is one thing, executing it to such a high level of detail and finish is just mind blowing.
Take this flower knife as an example, I am sure you are as impressed as I am :)
(The Lotus 練華レンゲ Renge , where extravagant design meets highly detailed execution)
Now I am sure you are pretty impressed by Shoichi’s knife design and his ability to forge great blades, but how about kitchen knives? Please continued to Part 2: Kitchen knives by Shoichi Hashimoto (TBC).