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Interview with Kansei Matsuno

Japanese knifemaker Kansei Matsuno is a true master of his craft and his designs undoubtedly have a style all their own. He has been designing and manufacturing knives since 1996, and just one year later he was able to exhibit them for the first time at the Seki Outdoor Knife Show. The skilful combination of Japanese style elements with the features of modern pocket knives impressed us right away. The mostly slim design and lightweight constructions, together with the straightforward design and classic Japanese blades, make for exceedingly elegant knives for everyday use.

How did you get involved with knives? About fifty years ago, I watched the movie „Tarzan“ with my father. The main character took on the strongest animals in the jungle and I was very impressed at the time. Especially, of course, by his imposing knife!

When did you make the first knife yourself?

That was about 25 years ago, it must have been 1996.

How long have you been working as a knife maker?

That was 23 years ago, just two years after I designed my first knife.

What profession did you learn or practice in the past?

Before my career as an independent knifemaker, I worked in the textile industry, where I learned my first craft skills.

Is there anyone you would call your mentor?

The legendary custom knifemaker Koji Hara, his knives are true masterpieces. His designs are based on the aesthetics of traditional Japanese arts and crafts, which has always inspired me. Today, Koji is known around the world for his precise, detailed inlay work.

What is your greatest talent as a knifemaker?

I think I‘m pretty good at designing and making pocket knives ;)

Where do these ideas come from?

I am inspired by many things, even in everyday life. Sometimes even the design of an elegant car.

What do you like most about your job?

What makes me happiest is the satisfied smile of the new and proud owners of my knives.

What should you start with, if you want to make your first own knife?

Once you know what kind of knife you want to make, you should buy one and disassemble it into its components. Then you rebuild the individual parts as faithfully as possible and try to reassemble the knife piece by piece. In the process, you learn a lot about the functions and mechanisms of the knife. Especially in the beginning, studying a role model is always a good teacher!

What does a typical working day look like for you?

 I get up at 6:30 and have breakfast first. Then I check my office for new e-mails and answer them. At lunchtime, I eat something and rest for a while. Strengthened, I then start working on knives or manufacturing individual components in my workshop. I then end the busy day with an evening meal, after which I take a bath. I prefer a regular daily routine.

Is it easy to order an individual knife from you?

Yes, anyone can order a knife from me.

Can you give us some insights into your current projects?

I‘m currently working on a design for a new pocket knife, but I don‘t want to give too much away yet.

Do you ever get tired of knives?

Working as a knifemaker can be tiring and exhausting, and then I need some time off. But knives always fascinate me, of course.

What about your wife - does she share your passion for knives?

She likes my work, but other knives are less interesting to her.

Besides your busy work schedule, do do you have time for other things?

At the moment I have developed a passion for smoking food.

What is the best way for you to switch off in your free time?

I like to surf the Internet, especially You- Tube is a good source of some mental distraction.

Are there any hobbies that have nothing to do with knives?

I love to cook, plus my new hobby of smoking. Eating and enjoying food is very important in my life.

What can´t you do at all?

I never touch electrical wiring or defective electronic devices when I have problems. I prefer to leave that to a professional.

What would you even get up in the middle of the night for?

I can‘t think of anything exciting right now that might interest the reader :o)

Is there anything else you would like to share with our customers?

I am happy about every customer who is satisfied with my knife. And I am very happy that my designs inspire so many people around the world.

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