History of Masamoto Knives

History of kitchen knives

History of Masamoto Knives

Japanese knives are among the most valuable cutleries that have similar significance to that of Katanas used by Samurais. Back in the early years, Japan and the production of cutleries have implemented the traditional knife-forging techniques which have been used and applied up until today, highlighting the important of Japanese knives in the preparation processes of crafting Japanese delicacies.

Masamoto-Sohonten Ltd. is the number one maker of sushi chef knives in Japan. This family-owned company has roots dating back 150 years, making it one of Japan’s oldest knife manufacturers. The company has a rich history of creating top-quality knives and most of its customers are professional chefs.

The company was established by Minosuke Matsuzawa, born in 1845 in Osawa, Kanto Region. Throughout his youth, Minosuke travelled across Japan and visited knife manufacturers to learn as many knives crafting techniques as he could. In 1866, Minosuke returned to Osawa to start making knives, and began selling them in 1872 with the trade name of Masamoto later being registered in 1883. Minosuke devoted his entire life developing crafting techniques and producing consistent, high-quality knives as he wanted Masamoto to be remembered throughout the ages for being a high-quality knife manufacturer.

Since Minosuke’s death at the age of 47, each following generation of the family has continued to refine his techniques and contributed to his vision and aim to produce durable, top-quality knives. Today, Masamoto is not only one of Japan’s oldest knife manufacturers, but also one of the most respected and now the premier brand for professional chef knives. Minosuke’s spirit and vision lives through Masamoto’s current craftsmen, and Masahiro Hirano, the current president of the company and a direct descent of Minosuke, says, “I believe our tradition and the passion of our craftsmen live in each knife we produce, and that through the hands of the people who use them, it will reach the hearts of the people who enjoy the dishes that they make.”

Masamoto-Sohonten knives feature 3 unique characteristics:

Sharpness Masamoto-Sohonten knives are extremely sharp and cutting with them feels effortless and unlike any blade you’ve used before. The level of sharpness is achieved with a strong blade, forged through a tempering process.
Durability The sharpened knives undergo an extreme hardening process, giving the knives excellent durability and long usable life. When properly maintained and sharpened, Masamoto knives can be used for years.
Ease of Sharpening Masamoto knives are made with a high-grade carbon steel that when polished, and extremely easy to sharpen.

Masamoto-Sohonten products are divided to 3 groups:

Japanese Knives

Japanese cuisines focus heavily on presentation, therefore Masamoto’s Japanese knives come in many varieties based on how various seasonal ingredients and ingredients are prepared and cut. The knives are typically single-edged, and the blade enters the food at an acute angle.

Western-style Knives

Masamoto’s Western-style knives are built tough as these knives can be used to cut, peel, chop or prepare a wide range of foods and ingredients including meat, fish, and vegetables. These knives are versatile, easy to use for regular households, low maintenance, and extremely sharp.


Masamoto-Sohonten also carries a wide range of non-knife products including graters, peelers, chopsticks, knife sharpeners, and more.

Masamoto-Sohonten is the receiver of multiple awards:

  1. Awarded gold and bronze prizes at The Tokyo Industrial Exhibition in 1907
  2. Japanese Knife — Awarded silver prize at Exampla’71
  3. Hyper Molybdenum Steel Western-style Knife — No. 1 in Usage Tests in 2009 Cook’s Illustrated Annual
  4. Hon-Kasumi Japanese Knife + Hyper Molybdenum Steel Western-style Knife — Certified as Sumida Modern Brand in 2010
  5. Hyper Molybdenum Steel Western-style Knife — The Wall Street Journal in 2011

Today, Masamoto-Sohonten is one of Japan’s most well-known and respected knife manufacturers. They’re also the No. 1 sushi knife maker in Japan, and throughout its 150-year history, the company has won numerous awards. Their knives are high-quality, durable, and perfect for commercial kitchen use, making them the number one choice for professional chefs. Masamoto’s flagship store opened in Tokyo in 1890, and is still open and welcoming visitors today, so be sure to stop by if you’re in Japan.

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