Furaibo Kakugata Usuba Shirogami #2 180mm
Furaibo 風来坊 - vagabond, wanderer
Just like a vagabond wanders the earth without rest, seasons flow into each other and bring change on their way. The sun shines and turns to rain, wind blows past us and we weather the storms, nature perpetuating itself. And in the same steady flow, tradition and convention progress slowly and either give way to new ideas and inventions or reinforce the established status quo.
Centuries of Japanese tradition of sword and blade manufacturing have allowed for such natural processes to play out and birthed many iterations of different blade shapes, sizes and materials they forged them from. Japanese kitchen knives serve as a sort of time capsule, preserving this spirit of excellence and tradition, and the blacksmiths, acting as amber around fossilized remnants of history, passing them to the next generations to keep them alive.
With our previous designs and collaborations with Japanese blacksmiths, we focused heavily on multi-purpose knives to fit the needs of the contemporary chef. We felt that the next move should be a step in the opposite direction, focusing instead on the truly quintessential knives that showcase both the masterful craftsmanship and a rich culinary tradition those contemporary knife shapes were later built on.
Furaibo Usuba, ever wandering from recipe to recipe, is forged from Shirogami #2, one of the purest and most traditional steels used in Japanese knife manufacturing. Birthed from fire in the historic Tsubame-Sanjo region in Niigata prefecture, and fitted with colorful handles to commemorate the passing of seasons that gave way for this beautiful craft to evolve and thrive. The blade’s finish was kept within the confines of the Japanese concept of negative space (ma 間)* and given a sleek polished migaki look, and a kasumi finish on the kireha. Adorned with a hand-chiseled kanji, three symbols, one word – vagabond.
*the Japanese concept of ma or negative space is a philosophy that guides their approach to design, as well as other, everyday things – the core belief being that absence can be just as important as presence.
Usuba in Japanese means thin, which is an appropriate description of this knife designed for preparing vegetables, where a thin blade is very important. When cutting firm vegetables such as carrots, it is important that the blade cuts, not split, as can often happen with thicker knives.
Kakugata refers to the specific rectangular shape of this knife - kaku means square in Japanese. The single bevel blade enables precise chopping of vegetables on the kitchen board, and due to its height and straight edge, it can also be used for peeling larger tuberous vegetables, such as daikon, into long and thin slices. This process is called “katsuramuki” and is one of the most difficult and complex Japanese cutting techniques.
Shirogami #2 is a traditional high-carbon steel in Japanese knife manufacturing, and #2 is the most frequently used Shirogami steel. Due to its high carbon content, it can reach a hardness of over 60 HRC, which means that blades forged from it will have excellent edge retention. The blades will sharpen easily and will be able to achieve a very fine sharpness, owing to the steel’s very pure composition. For the same reason, the steel isn’t corrosion resistant and the blade will develop a protective patina over time. Therefore, it’s recommended you wipe the blade dry between and after use and oil it regularly.
→ Learn more about knife maintenance here.
Ni-mai lamination method is used on single-bevel knives, where a sheet of softer metal is forge-welded onto the shinogi (front) side of the blade’s hard core. This reinforces the blade’s structural integrity and consequently makes it tougher.
It has a single bevel blade and a concave primary angle (the surface below the shinogi line).
This knife sports a minimalistic migaki finish, meaning the blade has been polished. The kireha, or “blade road” is adorned with a matte kasumi finish that marks the transition between the jigane (softer outer layer of steel) and hagane or the blade’s hard core.
Handles are made of natural maple wood, which undergoes a special procedure of stabilization with resin. This ensures a long service life of the handle. During this process of stabilization, a color pigment is added which penetrates the wood in different ways, creating unique patterns. This makes every handle one-of-a-kind.
Steel type: Shirogami #2
Hardness (HRC scale): 61
Overall length: 325mm (12.8")
Blade length: 175mm (6.9")
Blade height: 50mm (2")
Spine thickness: 3.9mm (0.15")
Weight: 250g (8.8 oz)
Handle length: 139mm (5.5")
Handle type / wood: Japanese (Wa) / Custom
Kanji on the blade:
Location of the smithy: TSUBAME-SANJO / Niigata Prefecture / Japan
→ Use a wooden, plastic or rubber cutting board. On no account don’t use them on glass, ceramics, marble or steel.
→ Don’t leave your knives in the sink. Wash each knife by hand.
→ Don’t wash your knives in the dishwasher. The heat can damage the handles, edges can chip, and humidity inside the dishwasher can corrode the blade.
→ After use, wash the knives and wipe them dry.
→ When not in use, blades should always be protected so they don’t come into contact with other kitchen utensils. We recommend using a magnetic rack, knife blocks, especially designed drawers or using protective sheaths or sayas made of wood or leather.
→ A knife is a tool intended for specific use. Don’t use it for any other purpose: it’s not a can opener, screwdriver, trowel, wire cutter, hammer etc.
→ Kitchen knives are meant for preparing food. Use the right knife for the task at hand – a small paring knife intended for delicate work won’t do well if you’ll try to chop bones with it.
Knife sharpening is not a difficult task. We are big supporters of the idea that everyone should learn how to sharpen a knife. Check out our step-by-step Knife Sharpening Video Guide for Beginners.
REGULAR BLADE STRAIGHTENING - HONING ROD!
Contrary to common belief, a honing rod or butcher’s steel is not used to sharpen the blade, but to straighten it. It straightens the tip of the blade for microscopic realignment and removal of blade deformations.
→ Read our comprehensive guide on proper Maintenance of Kitchen Knives.
MAINTENANCE OF CARBON STEEL KNIVES
Traditional Japanese steels can, due to their low chromium (Cr) content, discolor and take a patina through use as they oxidize. The knife is the most sensitive when it is still new and a patina had not developed yet, but later patina will protect it and make it more resistant. These types of knives require a touch more care and we recommend you follow the steps below:
→ Wipe it regularly with a clean and dry cloth (you can also do this during use).
→ After use, make sure you rinse it with lukewarm water and wipe it dry.
→ Gently coat it in Ballistol or Camellia oil or plain refined sunflower oil.
→ You can store the knife by wrapping it in paper which will absorb moisture and protect the blade.
A patina is a thin layer that forms on the surface of oxidized steel and protects it from further oxidation. The patina should not be confused with rust as the former protects the blade, while the latter causes corrosion and deterioration of material. It is produced by the oxidation of steel surface and this process is even quicker if a knife comes into contact with various acids. You can recognize a patina by its characteristic colors: first you see golden yellow that changes to deep blue, which then transforms to purple and, in the end, to gray that darkens over time. If you notice red dots of rust, you should remove them.
→ For an in-depth information about patina, read our dedicated post on patina.
We paired this blade with our traditional custom-made maple burl handles in four different colors
select your favorite
→ TOKYO NIGHT: The color of these handles varies from light to dark grey, with soft or deep hues of red and swirls of cream.
→ OKINAWA REEF: A soothing, emerald green color named Okinawa Reef. It feels like immersing your hand in shimmering coastal waters during summer.
→ KYOTO SUNSET: It feels like holding something smooth and warm in your hand – a glow in the sky at sunset or a burst of bright autumn color.
→ TOTTORI SAND: A sandy brown color named Tottori Sand. Inspired by the infinitely swirly Tottori sand dunes found in the western part of Japan.
If you like a particular color hue, please contact us before placing an order.
Still doubting which type of Japanese knife should best fit your needs?
We created a quick, 5-steps quiz to help you find the perfect knife based on your cooking skills and the type of food you prepare.
KNIFE SHARPENING & REPAIRS
Your knives deserve some care and a new edge. Head over to our knife sharpening service KnifeSOS.com and place the order (minimum 3 knives). We’ll take care of everything else.
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