"When I forge a blade, I always try to improve upon the previous blade. The damascus always surprises me with a new response. What kind of face will the best blade I will forge someday show me?"

Meet The Makers

Shoichi Hashimoto - Japan

It was many years into his love of edged objects that Shoichi Hashimoto discovered the existence of commercially made knives available for sale. By this point, around the time of junior high school, Shoichi had been making and testing his own creations since early childhood. The first foray involved a shuriken cut from paper, made and thrown as his father taught him. Enthusiastic for this new direction in life, he made and threw “large quantities of them.” Next, tree branches whose shapes resembled swords become the focus, forming them as needed to ward off various imaginary foe. Curved sabre and dagger-like profiles excited Shoichi most. The monsters from his favorite video games, were their paths to cross, would be in for a fierce battle.

By elementary school Shoichi graduated to metals, cutting his first metallic blade from a thin sheet of copper with a pair of scissors. When he used it to challenge the nearest monster…or, paper box as the case may have been (no one knows for sure)…the blade bent sideways with little effort. The copper’s reddish luster had captured his heart, though, and this first experiment would lead to many more. 

Limited by his age and the conscientious shop owners who would not sell a child the blades Shoichi desired most, he was inspired by the sounds and flying sparks of a metalworking studio he passed on the street, and a new spark was lit. Shoichi knew that if he could source an iron bar, certainly more accessible to this young man than an oversized knife, he could himself shape it and give it an edge. So, he did. Throughout the experiments that followed, Shoichi learned about grinding, hardened steel vs soft iron, stainless vs carbon, casting and melting lead, and even hardening and drying gelatin.

In 2001 Shoichi entered university in his hometown at the Faculty of Arts at Hiroshima City University where, after a year studying a wide variety of design and traditional craft disciplines, he joined a laboratory teaching metal crafts, and the rest is history. In addition to learning about copper sheet metal techniques, silversmithing, and basic blacksmithing in his early years of formal training, Shoichi was given the opportunity to meet the master swordsmith Sadanao Mikami. As regular meetings with Mikami fueled his passion and knowledge of traditional Japanese sword making techniques, through this community Shoichi was introduced to another artist, Mendel Jonkers of the Netherlands, who was on campus to lecture on damascus steel making. Shoichi was 20 years old in 2002 when this magical and life-changing experience occurred, and he spent the following decade, including five years as a student, one year as a freelance research assistant, and four more years as a part-time assistant to laboratory staff, studying blacksmithing and damascus techniques.

Shoichi’s love of ornamental and sculptural forms was informed by the art that is damascus steel, and his first creation began as a petal shape, transforming into a tornado, and finally, a wing-like plate sprouting from the base of the blade. It was in graduate school when Shoichi was invited by product designer Shimada Hidetugu to attend the Seki Outdoors Knife Show, the first time he presented his work to an audience outside of school. Showing first a sculptural work with little utility to accompany the artful form, Shoichi was inspired and went on to exhibit his more functional pieces for which he received much positive feedback. Continuing with the university as a part-time staff member until 2012 and honing his craft along the way, Shoichi was ready for the next phase of his journey and quit his job to set up a small workshop of his own. Crediting Yamashita Hamono, a local knife store run by Mr. Yamashita, with the opportunity to expand and present his art more widely, Shoichi began exhibiting internationally in 2016, showing his work in Taiwan, France, and then in 2019 in New York City where he met Eatingtools’ founder Abe Shaw.

Today, Shoichi Hashimoto gives all of his being to the creation of damascus steel and damascus blades, feeling an otherworldly attraction to the mystique of this storied material. With deep etches, many alloys of steel in fine layers to create patterns with depth and character and resulting finished pieces worthy of the aesthetic nature of pattern-welded steel, Shoichi’s blades are made to be enjoyed from afar, up-close, and of course, in the hand. Influenced heavily by Japanese swords to this day, Shoichi’s culinary pieces are extraordinary, thoughtful, and full of the soul of a man who lives for his craft.