歴史が生んだ職人の技、「堺包丁」 A Historic Craft, “Sakai Knives”

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そのむかし、大阪 堺は、日本でも有数の港町として栄えた。海からの荷物が上がり大坂(大阪)へ、京へと運ばれて行った。堺の港から大坂の道修町や北浜までの街道が、いまの大阪の南北を走る幹線道路、堺筋である。
当時貿易港として栄えた堺にはモノが集まっていたことから「モノの始まりは堺から」とよく言われていたようだ。その名残でいまも堺には数々の伝統産業が息づいている。その代表的なのが「金物」や「包丁」である。

A long time ago, Sakai, Osaka prospered as one of Japan’s leading port towns. Goods brought in by sea passed through Sakai on their way to Osaka and Kyoto. The road from the Port of Sakai to Doshomachi and Kitahama in Osaka is called Sakaisuji, and it is still the main road running from South to North Osaka today. Since so many different products came into Japan via Sakai, there was a saying that “Everything begins in Sakai”. Many traditional industries still exist in Sakai, but it is perhaps most well-known for its metalwork and knives.

その包丁は「堺打刃物(さかいうちはもの)」としてブランドになっている。包丁、といえば堺、という認識は高いようである。堺打刃物の起源は古く、資料によると、堺にある世界最大の前方後円墳で、昨年、世界遺産に登録された仁徳天皇陵築造の頃にさかのぼる。当時、この大規模な工事のために必要な土木器具のクワや鋤が大量に必要になり、それらを生産するために全国から鍛冶職人が集められ、集落をつくり住みついた。その後、ポルトガルからタバコが伝来し人々の間で広まりそれに伴いタバコの葉をきざむ包丁の需要が高まり、鍛冶職人達がその製造に着手。その製品の優秀さが当時の江戸幕府に認められ、これを幕府専売品として“堺極(さかいきわめ)”と刻印され全国に広まったようである。

Knives made in Sakai are branded “Sakai-uchimono” and are widely recognised for their high-quality. The origin of Sakai-uchimono dates back many centuries, according to research, to the time of Emperor Nintoku and the construction of the world’s largest keyhole-shaped burial mound in the Sakai area sometime between the 3rd and 6th century AD, which last year was recognised as a world heritage side. At the time, a lot of tools and equipment was needed for the construction of the burial mound, so blacksmiths from around the country gathered in Sakai where they settled and built villages. A few centuries later, in the 16th century, tobacco was imported from Portugal and became widely popular amongst the population of Japan. Responding to the increased need to cut tobacco leaves, the blacksmiths in Sakai began to manufacture knives for the first time. The excellence of these tobacco knives was recognised by the Edo Shogunate at the time and they were given a special hallmark called “Sakai-kiwame” before being sold around the country.

パンフレットには「打刃物」とか、「刃付け」という風に表記されている。「包丁」という表現があまり使われてない。尋ねてみると、堺の包丁は「分業制」になっている、という。鉄と鋼を叩く鍛冶屋作業を「打刃物」という。刃付けというのは「研ぐ」作業のこと。そして柄付けや販売をする「問屋」に分かれている。

In the pamphlet, the knives are often referred to as a “cutting tool” or “blade” as opposed to a “kitchen knife”. When I asked about this, I was told that the process of creating the knives is divided into stages. The work of the blacksmith, who heats and hammers the iron and steel, is called “forging”. Next is the “sharpening” stage, in which the edge of the blade is sharpened and perfected. Finally, the blades are attached to handles and sent to wholesalers to be sold.

この3つの作業の製作がすべて堺で行われているものを”堺ブランド”という。しかし、いま一般では「堺包丁」として売られているほとんどは純粋の”堺ブランド”ではない。まして一本一本丹精こめて叩いて研いで造られている包丁も少なくなっている。

These three stages make up the “Sakai brand” and all take place within Sakai. However, many knives that are sold today which claim to be Sakai knives are not actually genuine “Sakai brand” products. In fact, fewer and fewer knifes are being made using Sakai’s step-by-step forging and sharpening process.

今回、訪れたところは「榎並製作所」という打刃物専用の鍛冶屋さん。現在は榎並正さん(写真)が一人でコツコツと造りあげている。正さんで4代目になる。先代の父親の姿をみて、小学生のときから鍛冶屋になる、と決めていたという。大学を卒業しそのまま父親に弟子入りし、それから40年近くが経つ。

This time, I was also able to visit a blacksmith’s workshop called Enami Blade Factory, which specialises in cutting tools for personal use. Right now, Tadashi Enami (pictured) is working hard alone at the workshop. Tadashi is a fourth-generation blacksmith. He told me that he decided to become a blacksmith whilst he was still in elementary school after watching his father. It has now been 40 years since Tadashi graduated and followed in his father’s footsteps.

榎並さんが造ったモノはすべて東京で売られている。釜でコークスが燃え盛る中に細長い鉄を入れて焼く。真っ赤になった細長い鉄棒の先に鋼を重ねて再び釜の中へ。その鋼が刃の部分になる。鉄と鋼の燃える色合いをみる。叩く(打接)のにベストの温度が1100度くらい。

All of Tadashi Enami’s products are sold in Tokyo. Whilst the coke is burning in the forge, a long iron rod is inserted and heated to around 700 degrees centigrade. Once the iron begins to glow bright red, the steel is placed at the end of the iron bar and it is placed back into the forge. This steel will eventually become the blade. The ideal temperature is reached at around 1100 degrees centigrade.

釜から取り出すタイミングは長年の経験によりわかるという。この温度を間違えるといい包丁はできない。取り出してすばやく自動の叩く機械にはさむ。速度や間隔は足で踏むペダルで調整する。見る見るうちに長く伸びていく。そして叩くことによって鉄と鋼の間の不純物が取り除かれ、くっついていく。この一瞬の作業がものの見事に進むのは、長い経験の賜物だろう。

It is said that knowing when to remove the steel from the forge is an art perfected through years of experience. If the blacksmith misjudges the temperature, then the quality of the knife will suffer. Once the steel has been heated to the ideal temperature, it is removed from the forge and placed into the hydraulic forging press. The speed and intervals of this press are adjusted by a foot pedal. Before your eyes the steel grows longer as it is struck by the press. Also, through this process of striking the iron and steel, the impurities are removed and the two are joined. This moment is the result of years of hard work and experience.

今では、子供たちの授業の一環として見学に訪れたり、実際に包丁を作ったりもする。「堺市にはこんな伝統産業があるのだ」ということだけを学ぶのではなくて、モノづくりの大変さを学んでほしい、と榎並さんはいう。それが、モノを大切にする気持ちへとつながっていくはずだ、と力説する。

Nowadays, classes of school children visit the workshop on educational visits and experience making knives for themselves. Enami says that he does not only want children to know that Sakai is home to this traditional industry, but he also wants them to experience the high-level of craftsmanship that goes into making a single Sakai kitchen knife. He hopes that this will help to emphasise to the children the importance of valuing things.

レポート & 写真 / 渡邉雄二

Article and photos by Yuji Watanabe