How many different knives do you have in your kitchen at home. If you are in Japan, it could be up to 50 including knives specifically for fish bleeding, roe and preparation, for salmon, for squid, for crab, for eel, for the pike conger eel, for noodles, for fish cake, for lettuce and, one of the largest, for spring onions.
The Japan Centre London’s second exhibition ‘Biology of Metal: Metal Craftsmanship in Tsubame-Sanjo’ provides a fascinating insight into metalwork crafts in the Tsubama-Sanjo region of Japan, combining traditions going back several centuries with contemporary skills and craftsmanship, looking to the future of metalwork for a wide variety of tools, knives, kitchen implements, tableware, smoking pipes and metal screens, not just in aluminium and steel but also in copper.
Inspired by the Tsubame-Sanjo Factory Festival (Kouba no Saiten), an annual ‘open house’ held at the beginning of October in Tsubame-Sanjo, the displays are placed in front of videos of the craftspeople who sweat alongside the fiery furnaces and flames that are so much part of the manufacturing process.
Contemporary Japanese iron crafts were also on show at the London Design Fair in Truman’s Brewery last month, again combining old traditions with modern design.