Okinawa Tourism Information:Givingnewlifetoironscrap-Blacksmith’sshopKanimanKajiKobo

Giving new life to iron scrap - Blacksmith’s shop Kaniman Kaji Kobo

post : 2016.11.10 09:00


“Everyone carried a pocket knife,” he said, reminding me of the young River Phoenix in the movie Stand by Me.


After the war people ate to survive and had to make things to sell for money. “Boys used to pick up all kinds of scraps from wherever they could find them and made them into toys, musical instrumentals whatever would be us use,” said Teijun China  who was one of these boys.


“Some junior high school kids had army knives when I was a little,” China said. “I was so jealous.” Indeed, China has been fond of knives since childhood and has since visited many of knife museums and blacksmith’s shops all over Japan.


“Look at the sharp, curved point,” China said. “The shape is great to cut fish or meat and you can use the curved part as a lever to make easier to cut hard tree roots. You can use the flat part as a cutting board”


When China was a boy, iron was very precious in Okinawa. A single knife had to be used for all cutting jobs. Later, people started using different knives for specific purposes.


Old bicycle springs, claws from agrimotors and cutters from sugarcane harvest trucks can all be reshaped into knives by Mr. China. He explains that there are many kinds of iron and each has its own characteristics. He first must identify the type of iron then determine the best tool to create with it. According to China, springs are great for hatchets and cutters are perfect for making grass cutting tools.

China checks the color of heated iron to determine its type and best characteristics. After his six years of observations and experiences with fire and iron, he can now recognize the differences.


“Nowadays, knives are made by machine,” China says. “Mine may not look great compared to machine made knives, but cut really well.”


Iron needs to be pounded repeatedly to achieve harmony in its consistency. This is the key for sharpness in a blade. People recognize the importance of sticking to old ways and traditions like China's knife-making because it is obvious that some handmade items are still better than hi-tech ones.


The pattern on the handle is to prevent hand slippage and it is a unique idea in Okinawa. These easy-to-grip handles are popular with older people or people who suffer from weak eyesight. China seems understandably proud of his knives – and he should be because his handmade items are popular among people who appreciate the tradition and technique behind his work. Please visit him and find a special handmade knife.


*China's knives can also be purchased at Matsuda shop or Mirai Ginoza near his studio.

* Ryukyu pine (oily and strong), Yanabuu (used for canoes in Okinawa) and Adeku (white trunk) are all local woods used for the handles.


Kaniman Kaji Kobo

Address: 2629-10 Matsuda, Ginoza Village, Okinawa

電話/ 098(968)8459

Tel: 098-968-8459


Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Noriya Fukuda