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Kitchen Knives
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Japan

Niwa Megumi

< 07, Aug, 2016 >

It is strongly considered that making something is just like an idiom. Idiom means a group of words which has a special meaning that is different from the ordinary meaning of each separate word. Manufacturing kitchen knives is also. Through several processes, lumps of useless steel turn into “Kitchen Knives.”

As confirmed by the anchor man in a relay team, the last part must take on responsibility more than early ones. In manufacturing kitchen knives, the part of the heaviest responsibility is “Blade Edging.” The process gives the blade necessary structure by processing like sanding.

“Blade Edging” is, in other words, the point of an idiom, ”Kitchen Knives.” For kind of karma, I interviewed with Niwa Megumi, the greatest “Blade Edging” artisan in Seki Factory of “Zwilling J.A. Henckels Japan” who are a German kitchenware company with a high reputation. Supposed that this interview brings us to the right place to get their meaning of the idiom…



Niwa Megumi I did not head for being a blade edging artisan. When I was 18, I found this job by high school mediation. Therefore, I graduated from high school and got to work in this factory that was not Zwilling’s yet. I have worked 12 years now. Originally, I longed to get the job to make something while being a student. Seki city, then, is popular for blade manufacture.


Seki city in Gifu is well-known as a place of good blade manufacturing, and their factory is standing within. “People in Seki may be sterner in knives than other areas” said Niwa. In other words, they are very proud of their own history and individuality. So it was probably natural she obtained a position in kitchen knife manufacture.

Zwilling purchased the factory in 2004 because they longed to manufacture high-quality kitchen knives by themselves, although they had originally entrusted with making knives. To know the fact of Zwilling, namely, we have to ask her how it was before Zwilling bought the factory up.


Niwa When I entered, it was rare women worked in kitchen knife manufacture, of course including “Blade Edging.” Women were in charge of miscellaneous business like toilet cleaning. Now we have the specialty cleaners. The same job, moreover, brought the different salary by gender clearly.



An hour before this interview, a director gave me a tour of the factory. As far as I saw, it looked 20 – 30% of the workers were female. Of course, gender is not important on making something good. I can hardly deny that most must think of some male craftsmen, however, hearing “Knife Artisan.” “There are many situations that women can play active parts because kitchen knife manufacturing includes a lot of delicate processes” said the director.



We often use “optimization” in the information engineering field. The word means the selection of the best element from several set of available alternatives. It seems Zwilling have spirit of optimization. It means they can improve the situations as necessary. Women could play active parts in that field, which made them rebuild the adequate environment for females.

Niwa I suppose people seldom follow those old rules which look out-of-date. So I believe our surroundings have been improved a lot.





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