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An overview


Tanegashima Island lies south of the main islands of Japan, at an intersection of winds and currents that over the centuries delivered new people, technologies and commodities to its shores. Bread, tobacco, scissors, guns - all were first introduced to Japan through Tanegashima. 

Some historians believe that Japan's first iron-making may have occurred on Tanegashima, the technology having arrived from the west or south or both independently, and that it was the island's plentiful sa-tetsu iron-sand that went into making Japan's first iron. 

In any case the technology of manufacturing hagane jewel-steel was central to the island's culture and prosperity for many centuries. Tens of generations of craftsmen passed on the time-honored methods and skills required for the forging of Tanegashima's knives and scissors, 'tane-bocho' and 'tane-basami'.

See here for more about Tanegashima's fascinating history.

Tanegashima's edge tools are renowned for their beauty, utility and craftsmanship. Since 2010 Tanegashima Hamono has delivered these wonderful knives, scissors and shears to customers all over the world.

'Hamono' is the Japanese term for 'edge tool', hence 'Tanegashima Hamono' as our business name. The 'tanebocho' in our domain name is the Japanese for a knife made on the island. 

See our contact page for more information about us.

We accept all major credit cards through our PayPal credit-card payment facility. PayPal members may also choose to pay with their PayPal account balance. Payment data is secure, private and is not shared with the owners of this website.

To make a purchase, add the product to your shopping cart and proceed to checkout. On confirming your order and entering your shipping details you will be guided through the payment process on PayPal's secure payments page. When you have completed payment you will be returned to the Tanegashima Hamono website.

We will send a confirmation of your order to you by email, followed by an email advising of your shipping details for tracking purposes.

Please refer to our ordering and shipping page for more info about purchasing from Tanegashima Hamono.

We use Japan Post's EMS international express service to deliver products quickly and efficiently worldwide. It's the most cost-effective way to send your insured, trackable shipment from Japan.

Please refer to our ordering and shipping page for full details.

We have a generous returns policy. If things don't work out you may choose a replacement item, a store credit, or a full refund.

Our full returns policy is explained here. 

All 'kataha' single-bevel knives are available for order in left-handed configuration, but not all items are available ex-stock at all times.

We may need to have your knife made for you, which will mean a (short) delay in delivery. If this is the case we will let you know straight away and keep you informed about the status of your order at every stage.

We have a page for left-handers here.

Our technically-minded customers may be interested in the properties of the high carbon steel in the knives sold on this website. 

One empirical guide to the properties of a steel is the Rockwell Hardness C rating. All products are rated '60+', which experienced buyers may feel is a bit vague. Sorry about that. In the absence of mechanical testing the description will remain as is. 

Not that we haven't tried to find this information, or divine it. We know the firing and quenching temperatures/agents used on Tanegashima. We know the raw steel properties and we have the tables from Hitachi. We have even met with a representative of Hitachi Materials Magic (supplier of the Shirogami and Aogami cutlery steels used in the products we sell), but we are still reluctant to be specific about what hardness ratings we can assign to each knife. Too many variables.

But we'll go out on a limb and tell you what the charts tell us.

Our black-forged knives, tanebasami scissors and some knives in our high-grade range are manufactured from Shirogami ichi-go (white#1). These may have a rating of up to 65~66 HRC, which is in the high range. However, they are easy to sharpen at home. 

Many of our high-grade knives as well as our bonsai and flower shears are forged from Aogami ni-go (blue#2). These may be rated at around 63~64 HRC. This steel is very hard and slow to sharpen, but takes an exceptional edge that will stay sharp for a long time. Professional sharpening is recommended.

Our HSS/stainless knives feature a high speed steel edge. We can tell you that if anything it is a little slower to sharpen than Aogami #2, with similar edge characteristics. As with all our products, knives made with this steel have a beautiful cutting feel.

Sharp-eyed visitors will have spotted the Kagoshima Prefecture 'Dentou Kougei' mark on our product photographs. What's that about?

Dentou Kougei translates to 'Traditional Industrial Art'. Japan as a nation is very proud of its long heritage in hand-made industrial products and has the Dentou Kougei system of recognition and certification for true traditionalists. It's a means of identifying and supporting the shokunin master craftsmen and craftswomen who preserve this aspect of Japanese culture.

Products must be truly hand-made and not machine fabricated. In addition to methods employed in manufacture, makers that qualify must have a certain continuous history of production and the guild to which they belong must meet certain requirements pertaining to membership, length of establishment and turnover. 

The rigorous Dentou Kougei certification process guarantees a product is among 'best of breed' and truly hand-crafted. 

'Dentou Kougei' certification is not specific to knives. Products that bear this mark might be kimono sashes, chopsticks, lacquerware, jewellery, fountain pens, leather accessories, archery bows, cricket cages - it is a long and wonderful list and for lovers of Japanese culture well worth investigation. It was in part our enthusiasm for Dentou Kougei that led to the creation of the Tanegashima Hamono business and website.

If there's something you'd like to know and we haven't covered it please contact us by email, we'll most likely get back to you on the same day, if not immediately.

Please use the enquiry form on this page.

If it can't wait you can call or message us on +81 80 4267 0766, but please bear in mind we're on Japan time and may not be awake when you are. There's voice mail in the event we're not available, in which case you can leave your number and a short message and we will return your call.