In the early 2000s, Kikuchiyo was invited by master craftsman of Sakai to join them as a blacksmith. The art of blacksmithing is physical, the rough working environment of fire and iron takes a toll on the body and many of the masters' abilities begin to wane in their forties and fifties. As Kikuchiyo started earlier in life, he has gained most of the knowledge and skill of fine forging and quenching, before his physical abilities deteriorate.
Kikuchiyo proactively experimented with new steels not generally used by Sakai’s blacksmith, steels such as stainless. His experience and skill have made his Ginsan (Silver 3) knives popular among Japanese cuisine chef’s, many stating “If you use Kikuchiyo’s Ginsan once, you will never replace it”.
Kikuchiyo is also known for fine Honyaki quenching, beautiful Hamon and the correct hardness and gumminess are only achievable by experienced masters achieving the correct temperature. His Honyaki is supported by many of Sakai’s sharpeners and finishers, professionals who know what makes a good kitchen knife.
When Kikuchiyo joined as a blacksmith, he dreamed of success and becoming a great man. He continues to develop his skills as a craftsman, modelling each of his knives on the image of his master’s forge.
Kyuzo’s father Heihachi is one of the busiest sharpeners in Sakai. Heihachi’s workshop room and corridor were always filled with knives waiting to be sharpened. Although Kyuzo initially worked under his father to learn the foundation of rough sharpening, eventually he became a student of Kambei, known as one of the best sharpeners in Sakai because he knew best how to sharpen wide double bevel knives. After a few years of training, he built his style based on both his father and Kambei’s respective styles. Today, Kyuzo is one of only a few people who can sharpen wide double bevel with really good Shinogi-line in Sakai, one of the most challenging techniques in sharpening.