5. Origins of KAI Craftsmanship
KAI is a company that currently manufactures, sells, exports and imports more than 10,000 different kinds of cutlery and cutting tools, ranging from kitchen utensils to cosmetic accessories and surgical implements. The firm is headed by Koji Endo, the grandson of the founder and the company's third president.
KAI started in 1908 as a small pocket-knife factory in the city of Seki, which is known in Japan as the City of Good Swordsmen. The innovative first president of the company introduced pocket knives (then unknown in Japan) and replaceable razor blades. The second president, nicknamed the king of razors, began diversifying into other products and expanding to overseas markets.
Even though the company has become quite large, one principle has been consistently upheld by KAI: Providing the finest craftsmanship together with warm hospitality. For Koji Endo this is the spirit of the nokaji (blacksmith) which is at the heart of his work: "The nokaji strives to make blades that are suited to the daily lives of people by bringing to bear on the task all his craftsmanship and all his heart. In my collaboration with Mr. Bras, I would like to find an answer to the question: how can we bring the spirit of the nokaji into the 21st century?"
The ideal of producing high-quality knives for everyday use lives on today in the third generation as KAI embarks on its collaboration with Michel Bras.