Blacksmiths of Japan Part 3

   Yes thats right Part 3.  What happened to parts 1&2 you ask?  Well why not :).   

   This will be my third trip to Japan to photograph a number blacksmiths across Japan.  This project started back in late 2015 with my good friend Kevin Kent of The Knifewear Stores across Canada, and by early spring of 2016 I headed over to Japan to start photographing these craftsman.  With a second trip just six months later.

   I write this blog on my phone.  My computer left at home as I had no place to carry it along with all my photo gear.  The following photographs will most likely be representative grab shots from my phone and not the actual images I have captured.  Those will come later when I am able to sort through and process the images I need. 

   This trip will be the last in the blacksmith series. But not my last trip Japan.  The photos from these three trips will be put together in a collaborative book with a planned release on fall 2018.   

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my traveling kit.

More to come.  Boarding time now...

June 21th 

The first day arriving in Japan (June 20th) is always a long one.  My traveling companion, Naoto and I spent our first 24hrs awake and traveling to get to Echizen on the west side of the country.  

  Today is the first day and we will be spending it with the Blacksmiths of Takefu Knife Village.  

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   Getting my gear ready.  

  For all my blacksmith photography I use Pentax's 645z medium format system with the Pentax K1 full frame 35mm as my alternate camera.   

My kit for this trip includes: 

- Pentax 645z & K1 bodies

- Pentax A 645 35mm

- Pentax FA 645 45-85m

- Pentax FA 80-160mm

- Pentax D FA 645 55mm

- Pentax D FA f2.8 24-70mm

- Laowa Zero-D 12mm

And on this trip a Nikon FE2 with a 50mm f1.2 loaded with some Cinestill 800. Just because.

June 21 cont.

   A full day was spent at Takefu Knife Village on the work floor exploring all the nooks and crannies of this working blacksmith shop. These places are dirty, greasy, and full of amazing things and people.  I'm my element! (One note all current photos are phone photos)

 The Pentax 645z at work.

The Pentax 645z at work.

  Thank you to the UV filter gods! From my first trip to Japan

 Thank you to the UV filter gods! From my first trip to Japan

 Getting up close and personal with the camera as Kato San works the spring hammer.

Getting up close and personal with the camera as Kato San works the spring hammer.

 June 22-24th - Tokyo  

  After having spent another great time with the blacksmiths at Knife Villiage (my third time there)  we heading off to Tokyo a little early to spend some extra time exploring.  

  June 23rd was an early day compared to most days.  A short taxi ride at 7am took us to the Fujiwara Hamono where Master Blacksmith Fujiwara San took us out to his workshop about 2hrs out of town.  Luckily his GS-F was a comfortable ride.  

 Fujiwara San at The Helm.

Fujiwara San at The Helm.

  This was my second time at Fujiwara's workshop. The first time, it was late and dark very dark! as everything was lit by the glow of the forge or a dim single light bulb. 

  The first trip I photographed him going through his heat treating process, applying Yakiba tsuchi, heating, then quenching the knife blank.  This, was hot photography! Let me explain.  When in these blacksmith shops things are pretty tight and shooting angles are very limited.  To get a different perspective I had to straddle the opening to one forge and lean over it to get the shot I wanted.  Talk about a hot crotch! I was soaked through from sweat after this shoot.

 One of the images taken from my first visit.  Fujiwara San closely watching the temperature changes in the knife blanks just prior to the quench.

One of the images taken from my first visit.  Fujiwara San closely watching the temperature changes in the knife blanks just prior to the quench.

   On this past trip back to the workshop I was hoping shooting in daylight hours would make things a little easier.  Nope not at all!  This is just a very dark workshop, the darkest I have had the pleasure to work in.

 Light from a single open bulb.

Light from a single open bulb.

  This time I was able to photograph Fujiwara San hand hammering knifes which was a real treat being able to watch this master at work.

   The 24th Naoto and I took an early walk through a rainy Tokyo, visiting the Meiji Jingu Shrine.  A beautiful place set within tall lush green natural forest.  A perfect walk before the 6hr-ish Shinkansen ride to Niimi to visit Takeda San.

June 24-27th

  Early evening in the 24th Naoto and I get off the Shinkansen and get on a slow hot little train that rattles it's way up into the mountains to Niimi.  Niimi is a small town set along the Takahashi River.  One of the main industries in the area is mining the carbonate rich mountains to produce concrete. 

  Takeda San picked us up at the train station and took us for a wonderful local meal before calling it a night.  Up early I took a stroll along the river to photograph the town as the early morning fog lifts up the mountain sides.  A simple breakfast before walking through the town to meet Takeda San at his workshop.  

   Takada San forge's each blade numerous times to create an amazingly thin blade.  Always striving to be better Takeda San continuously refines his skills to make his blades better.  He is a true Master Blacksmith.