Ichiro Hattori (Born 1939- 服部 維知郎)is a renowned knife maker in the city of Seki, Gifu Prefecture Japan. Seki is the most internationally well known of several cities famous in Japan for it’s history of cutlery and craftsmen going back some 800 years. He was born into a knife maker family and began his craft at the age of 18 in his father’s factory “Masahiro”, founded in 1932 and still one of Japan’s largest makers of culinary knives as one of the well known “3M”s (Masahiro, Masamoto, Misono). In 1971, Ichiro Hattori started his own business Hattori Hamono K.K. (Hattori Cutlery Co., Ltd.) to pursue his interest in sporting knives.
Ichiro Hattori’s name is well known among those in the knife industry for his OEM work for major U.S. Knife companies starting in the 1970s when Peter Kershaw contracted with him to produce the 10×0 series of fixed blades such as the Deerhunter, Elkhunter, Moosehunter series as well as the classic 1050 Folding Field, and the Model 1070 Trooper and Special Agent daggers as well. Browning also had Hattori make their classic Sportsman series of fixed and folding hunting knives such as the 3718 and 506. In 1983 Browning planned to create a limited edition damascus knife and Ichiro Hattori was involved in the creation of a knife made using Stainless Steel and Nickel Silver forge welded in layers. This was designated Browning model 3816 Double Edged Damascus Hunter and was produced for a mere two years 1984/85 before rising costs forced it’s termination in 1986/87.
Perhaps the most well known knives made by Hattori are the fighting bowies for SOG Specialty Knives of Santa Monica California, which were reproductions of a design originally created by Conrad Ben Baker for MACV-CISO Special Forces operations during the Vietnam war. Hattori made the S1 and S2 bowies from 1986 until 2005 when SOG Knives moved their production from Seki Japan to Taiwan. These along with other Seki made SOGs are in high demand as collectibles. Hattori also made four Vietnam commemorative knives for Boker of Germany which were marketed only in Europe. Hattori also made a number of models for many other companies such as Parker, Beretta, Al Mar Knives, Katz, Junglee, Jet-Aer Corp (G96 brand), Tekna, Valor Corp Miami, and The Cutlery Shoppe’s Gryphon brand.
Hattori only manufactured the high end quality models for his overseas customers, a practice still continued to this day. While most of his OEM work is now historical, Hattori still manufactures all of the fixed blade knives for Fallkniven of Boden Sweden, and several of the larger Sanmai Mai III knives for Cold Steel Inc. of Ventura California. Hattori has also provided his Cowry-X damascus blades for use by the custom knife maker Anthony L Marfione (Microtech) as well.
(Fallkniven Northern Lights NL1 THOR and Cold Steel Trail Master Sanmai III)
(Fallkniven Northern Lights NL5 IDUN in Cowry-X)
(A.Marfione “Troodon” using a Cowry-X Sanmai Damascus Blade by Hattori.)
As word of the quality and fit and finish of Hattori made knives increased, he began marketing knives under his own brand in 1993 which are in high demand by collectors from around the world. And as he only produces occasional limited runs Hattori knives are invariably always difficult to acquire. Hattori has made knives using a wide variety of steels both Carbon and Stainless over the last 45 years, but in recent years his work has centered around laminates using VG10 and high performance powder steels like 3G(SGPS) and Cowry-X. Ichiro Hattori developed the Nickel Stainless Damascus and holds a patent on the Laminated Steel Product. While he refrained from making culinary knives for many years so as not to conflict with his family business he now makes three lines of cooking knives as well.
(KD Series Cowry-X Nickel Stainless Damascus)
(HD Series VG10 Nickel Stainless 63 layer damascus)
FH Series VG10 Special Cocobolo
Ichiro Hattori’s skilled craftsmanship is respected not just in Japan but by many knife makers around the world. Well known for his dedication to achieving perfection, willingness to face countless sessions of trial and error, each knife he makes is subject to the most severe control and his motto of “No Compromise” earned him the title of “World’s Best Knife Craftsman”, and he was given the “Excellent Skilled Craftsman Award” by the Seki City Cutlery Association. In 2010 he also received the “Contemporary Master Craftsman” and “Outstanding Knife Making Technician” awards from the Government of Japan Ministry of Health.