I have mentioned KnifeWear, the Canadian importer/retailer of high-end Japanese kitchen cutlery in light of their advertising struggles with Facebook. I am pleased to bring you a more positive post. KnifeWear CEO Kevin Kent produced an amazing documentary on Japanese blademaking, Springhammer, and it is now available for free via their website and YouTube channel.
I haven’t yet watched the whole thing. I am about 10 minutes in and wanted to get this post written before kicking back on the couch and watching the rest.
At the end of WWII, Japan was faced with a burdensome repurposing of many industries. With military swords no longer in demand, despite a tradition carried on since the samurai, the industry turned to the kitchen. Craftsmen applying ancient trade skills of blade making to cookery, went largely unnoticed in the domestic market, and have had to find a new place in the world for their craft. Thankfully, the world seems to be listening. Springhammer is a documentary about Japanese blacksmiths who are dedicating their lives to making culinary knives. Through fire, sparks, hammers, anvils and interviews Springhammer looks at the past, present and future of Japanese blacksmithing.
In 2013, Kent, Kossowan, and Knifewear’s “Cultural Ambassador” Naoto Fujimoto, traveled across Japan to visit their blacksmith partners, filming them as they went. The plan was to create a series of shorts. This plan changed while trapped on a train that had been rendered immobile by typhoon damage. They found that their footage had turned out even better than they had hoped. It looked like they had the makings of what could be a fascinating documentary, so editing began right there on the train. Kossowan completed the job when he got back to his home in Edmonton.
What they ended up creating is a love letter to Japan and their blacksmithing tradition. The stunning visuals show not just the blacksmiths with whom Knifewear collaborates, but also stunning vignettes of the Japanese countryside as well as explanations of the Japanese knife making process and history.
It is really great. I am going to sign off now and watch the rest.
Part of why they are releasing this for free is because they have released Springhammer 2: The making of a knife. It is a paid stream at Vimeo, but here is the trailer: