orihei(森平) is a knife and whetstone supplier located in Asakusabashi, Tokyo. They have been apart of the industry for over 100 years, including the predecessor of Morihei “Oguro-Morihei-Shouten (小黒森平商店)“. At one point in time, more than 20 groups of blacksmiths and sharpeners were working exclusively under Morihei. They are one of the only companies in Japan with a long-standing history of relationships with blacksmiths and whetstone and natural stone makers today. Mr. Akimitsu Oguro, the president of Morihei is the advisor for natural stone researchers from universities and government groups. People who visit Morihei for technical information from Mr. Oguro include researchers, blacksmiths, sharpeners, chefs, and craftsmen and knife shop employees. Morihei is like a school for the industry people.
The start of Mr. Oguro’s career began at a traditional knife sharpening shop, the kind that doesn’t exist in Japan anymore. It consisted of four to five sharpening stations where the sharpeners were working independently. If the sharpener had good skills, people were waiting in his/her line. New sharpeners were in charge of flattening other sharpeners stones if nobody stood in their line.
Mr. Oguro has mentioned that these were grueling days for him, but fundamental to where he is at today. After two years in the shop, he quit with the longest line in the store.
Back in the old days of Morihei, blacksmiths and sharpeners would have disputes in regards to their work, and the pride that they would put into their work. Morihei were the peacemakers and the decision makers of the final results, so they developed a better understanding and eye for quality than which the craftspeople had.
t the age of 23, Mr. Ogura hand-delivered natural stones for Morihei. One of their customers was a Japanese sword polisher who then offered him the opportunity of a placement as a sword polishing disciple. He experimented and tested out each of the stones before his deliveries, providing detailed information about the products for Morihei's customers. Normally a student of a sword polisher would graduate after 5-6 years of daily training, living in-house. He had given Mr. Oguro the exception of a part-time student since he had the other job at Morihei. After 15 years of weekend training, he graduated as a sword polisher. These are some examples of the depth of history, experience, knowledge, and skills of Mr. Oguro and Morihei.
Some synthetic and natural whetstones from Morhei have serial numbers on them that are traceable from the beginning of when they were mined and made to the people who currently own them.
Morihei’s exclusive and in-house brands include: Hisamoto(久元), Kiyomitsu(清光), Yoshitomo(義友), Kisaku(喜作), Kunihide(國秀), Kikuyu(菊勇), Seppu(雪峰), Edomitsu(江戸光), Sukefusa(助房), Hakuraku(博楽), Hatsutora(初虎), Chiyomasa(千代正), Hisahiro(久弘), Kikumitsu(喜久光), Setsugetsu(雪月), Honkunihide(本國秀), Gousaku(豪作), Shigezoku(重族), Munetsugu(宗次), Unsen(雲仙), Koshiro(幸四郎), Kesa(ケサ), Kikumitsu(菊光), Korenobu(是信), Azuma Hisamoto(東久元) and Korehisa(是久). Mr. Oguro has set aside some knives and tools for the next generation of blacksmithing and sharpening. If you are lucky, you may be able to see his gallery.
Tosho Knife Arts and Ai & Om Knives are exclusive cooperators in Canada, so you can find Morihei products at our shops. If you are in Tokyo, we recommend that you visit Morihei’s showroom in Asakusa-bashi, so that Mr. Oguro can pick stones or knives together with you.
1-28-6, Asakusa-bashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0053, Japan
Business hours：10：00 - 17:45 （Weelend and holidays close）
→ Morihei's products
Tosho Knife Arts (Canada, Toronto)
Ai and Om (Canada, Vancouver)
Photographed, documented and written by: Hokuto Aizawa（Hitohira）
Edited by: Olivia Go (Tosho Knife Arts)