I spent the day surrounded by Japanese men and women wielding pointy stabby things. Interestingly, they actually trusted ME with the pointy stabby things.
About a hundred years ago when I was in graduate school, I developed an interest in cooking, which, for a while, was code for “mess making in kitchen” and “no, officer, despite appearances, that smoke does not require that many fire trucks”. Eventually, as I am wont to do, I became as interested in the tools and extras associated with cooking as I was in the actual cooking. This meant I spent a lot of time studying and acquiring different types of kitchen gadgets and cooking knives. That interest faded away along with a hefty chunk of my income.
After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, I suddenly found myself assembling earthquake kits and bug out bags–yes, I can also be hired to close your barn doors after your horses escape–and this led me back to my interest in knives.
The first knives I remember owning were an Air Force Survival Knife I got from my uncle and a Boy Scout folding knife. I may still have one of those somewhere in the USA. I also still have a couple of knives I bought when I was interested in cooking and cooking tools and a Swiss Army Knife I bought right before I headed off to Albania with the US Peace Corps. Last year, as a form of tithing, I bought knives from relatively new knife makers in the USA and New Zealand. Finally, I acquired a mess of knives from a Japanese friend who was cleaning out his collection of hunting and camping knives, I now find myself in possession of way more knives than I’ll ever need or ever be able to use for barter in a serious crisis.
It was therefore only natural that I would spend the day at the Tokyo Folding Knife Show. I dragged along a Canadian friend who is one of the only other foreigners I know in Japan with an interest in knives after persuading him to buy two of the knives I’d just acquired.
We then found ourselves the only foreign men in a room of Japanese and knives. We both were impressed with the friendliness of everyone at the show, both customers and knife makers. Some practiced their English; some were very patient with our Japanese; and none had problems handing us the pointy stabby things. That included a $6,600 knife which I was happy I neither dropped nor damaged. (The Canadian, it should be noted, refused to touch it.)
In the end, we each acquired a damaged factory second from a maker who, in a move that seems backwards from usual business practices, offered DISCOUNTS when he saw our interest in his knives.
We were also impressed with the fact that the show existed. Japan has strict knife laws and much of what was being sold could only be carried if we had a “legitimate reason” for carrying it. Otherwise it could only be used at home.
There’s another show at the end of March. I suspect I’ll be there as it’s nice to be around people with similar interests. If I’m not, there, look for the Canadian.