About UbukeyaOur history began in 1783 when the 1st generation master Kinosuke, an edged tool artisan who handled processes ranging from forging to grinding, opened an edged tool shop in Hashizume, Shinmachibashi, Osaka. The shop’s name, Ubukeya, was taken from its reputation for“ tools that can shave (knives and razors), cut (scissors and shears) and pull (tweezers) even an ubuke (soft, fine baby hair).”
The shop was founded in the Edo period, when the ruling Tokugawa clan facilitated a long-lasting period of peace celebrated as Pax Tokugawana. However, during this peaceful time the highly skilled swordsmiths and gunsmiths began losing work.
People had previously used tosu-gata (small, all purpose) knives to cut everything, but as culinary culture prospered, people began using different tools, such as deba knives to cut fish, nakiri knives to cut vegetables and yanagiba knives to prepare sashimi. As tea and gardening grew in popularity, sales of related edged tools soared and weaponsmiths began making tools for everyday use. During this time, Ubukeya, led by the 2nd generation master, began to work as an artisan-merchant, entrusting the forging process to skillful artisans and concentrating on grinding, finishing and selling.
The making of katana (swords) requires both craftsmanship and artistry. While the production of katana originated in the Kyoto-Osaka region, the main area of consumption later shifted to Edo (present-day Tokyo). By the 1800s, Ubukeya, now led by the 3rd generation master, had expanded its business operations to Edo. In addition to the Osaka headquarters (which closed in the 1960s), an Edo branch was opened in Hasegawacho (now known as Horidomecho). The present-day Ubukeya is the descendant of the Edo branch and is overseen by Yutaka Yazaki, the 8t h generation master. The shop moved to Ningyocho around the Meiji Restoration and has remained there to this day. The building’s appearance has barely changed since being renovated in 1927, providing a rare insight into the cityscape of past eras.
Even during the post-war era of mass production and consumption, Ubukeya never deviated from its core beliefs. Even though we have occasionally taken the opportunity to expand our business, we have always tried to remain practical and faithful. As people reconsider their lifestyles and seek long-lasting products, we continue to maintain close relationships with our customers and make products with the utmost care, studying the art of grinding and never neglecting our training when making quality tools.
In recent years, science and technology have advanced and materials with improved sharpness and durability are now being created. Despite this, products made from such materials are not yet affordable enough for everyday use. The edged tools that Ubukeya grind and sell are not works of art, they are tools for everyday use. They are made to be beautiful and sharp, but will eventually lose their sharpness through use. We can grind and burnish them to restore their beauty and sharpness, yet eventually they will become unusable and will have to be replaced. We continue to deliver more than 300 products ̶ including knives, scissors, tweezers and paper knives ̶ that stand somewhere between art, craft and everyday tools.