Featured image by Gary Todd. Originally posted on Oct. 23rd, ’20. Updated on: Oct 23rd, ’22.
Is Kamikoto a Japanese Owned and Operated Company?
Kamikoto knives are made in China, and they are a Chinese company out of Hong Kong. The parent company is Galton Voysey. So, no, they are not a Japanese owned or operated brand, and if you search “Kamikoto knives fake,” you will come across a number of articles also calling out their deceptive practices.
Kamikoto claims to use Japanese steel, which somehow makes them a Japanese company/product, or maybe it is their “Tokyo, Japan” office. If you believe that logic, American cars are partially Chinese, and the iPhone is South Korean, Taiwanese, European, and Japanese. Oh, and Irish if you consider Apple’s Cork campus.These progressive brands are like sooooooo origin fluid, like yea, but the “made in” part is sort of on the spectrum in this instance tho.
I also had to revise this article because of all the bloggers they are paying/compensating with counter articles. All of which do not strictly speak of the product, but they are constantly defending the brand – try naming a good or even decent brand where that is their primary focus of their marketing dollar? Apple is like “what, no headphone jack? We dun cuuur, GTFO.”
|Organization name:||Galton Voysey|
|Location:||17/A, Grandion Plaza, 932 Cheung Sha Wan Rd, Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong|
|Chairwoman and co-founder||Marine Aubrée Antikainen|
|Co-founder and Chairman:||William Wolfram (also founder and CEO of DealDash)|
|Number of brands:||“We currently have 5 DTC brands that we own 100%” (just do not expect to see them openly promoting those direct-to-consumer brands, and they keep that information on the DL).|
|Their values (laughable):||• Be vocally self critical.|
• Follow up every business day.
• You have the right and responsibility to make sense of things.
• Be fast and nimble.
• Disagree openly.
(they need to add “be cool with deceit and culturally appropriating)
|Articles on Galton Voysey||BusinessWire, Galton Voysey Celebrates 3 Years of Business|
Life in Motion, Galton Voysey & DealDash.com – A Conflict of Interest
Lifestyle Asia, 27 Questions: Kimberley Woo, CEO of Galton Voysey
Truth in Advertising, Class Action Lawsuit against DealDash
Reviews on Kamikoto:
|I really do love these sites and individuals (I do not know any of them personally) who produced this amazing work/content, and you can call it confirmation bias or a consensus substantiated and backed by data:|
Blades Power, Kamikoto Knives review: Are they real or fake? (one of the best reviews of the Kamikoto brand and Kenzo killed it).
Prudent Review: Are Kamikoto Knives Any Good? An In-Depth Review (just when I thought nobody could do better, along comes Andrew Palermo with some major flex, wow. All of these are must reads).
Shadiversity (YouTuber): Are KAMIKOTO knives a SCAM? Yea, and the dude’s, Japanese imitation is on-point, along with his actual product review where a free knife giveaway outperformed the Kamikoto. His content deserves a like and subscribe (I did), g’day mate.
Owner’s Mag (EDIT: added on Nov 10) Kamikoto Knives Review: another impressive review, and this is how it is done while maintaining your integrity by Kaytie Cayton. She doesn’t sell out to the Kamikoto narrative, yet she is still able to promote their product, wow (this is how the pro’s do it and I am a fan).
Chinese cutlery companies spend a tremendous amount of time and effort to market their knives as Japanese and this is how they do it.
I had written about this before through two others posts “Japanese Knives and Which Brands are Out to Deceive You” and “More Deceptive Chinese Cutlery Brands Marketed as Japanese Which Is Like Dating in the 80s.” These posts gave an overall perspective of the market at-large, but this post will focus on the online marketing tactics of only Kamikoto knives.
Kamikoto is all about fooling their buyer because they treat Americans as stupid (except you are not being fooled because you are here reading this). That might be true because there are countless others who buy the knife thinking they are made in Japan.That’s unfortunate because if they had truthfully branded their product as Chinese, they might have a successful brand.
It is also the reason why founder and co-founder of DealDash/Galton Voysey had a class action lawsuit against them for (partial reason/the relevant reason):
- “Misleadingly markets certain products as expensive, luxury, brand name products when they are actually cheap, generic brands that are not worth the advertised value;”
If You Google Search Any of These Words or Questions
You will most likely come across Chinese knife brands marketed as Japanese because this is their primary tactic, online marketing via content marketing (paid articles) and Google ads (btw, I’m only listing the top 3 otherwise the list would go on and on).
Keywords by Monthly Volume
- “Japanese knives” roughly 13,700.
- “Japanese chef knives” roughly 8,400.
- “Japanese kitchen knives” roughly 6,400.
Questions by Monthly Volume
- “Which japanese knives are the best” roughly 100.
- “How to care for Japanese carbon steel knives” roughly 100.
- “At what are Japanese knives sharpened” roughly 100.
You Will Most Likely Click on 1 of 76 Paid Keywords for Kamikoto.com
If you search using “Japanese knives” or any number of “Japanese” related keywords, you will most likely come across a number of paid ads by Kamikoto that is a long, long, long list which is why I will post their top 5:
- “Japanese knife set”
- “Japanese kitchen knife”
- “Chef knifes”
- “Japanese cooking knives”
- “Japanese chef knife”
The people (the founders, a Finnish dude and a French chick) behind the Kamikoto brand are very embarrassed to be associating their product with being Chinese, yet China has a long history of sword making, like a 1,000 years.Unlike Cangshan Cutlery which is successfully marketing themselves as Chinese (owned by a Chinese American dude and based in the US), you got to love that.
Kamikoto Wants You to Believe You Are Buying a Japanese Knife
If you are looking for a Japanese knife, you will most likely come across Kamikoto which most buyers will assume is Japanese for good reason. The last thought they would have is “are Kamikoto knives made in China,” and if that was you, do not feel bad (I say “was” because you’re here now).
This Is Who Kamikoto Says They Are
“Japanese Steel Knives — A Thousand Years of Craftsmanship. Tokyo, Japan.”– Kamikoto.com
If you’re a pro at marketing, everything you say will be based on fact, and in the case of Kamikoto to avoid any potential lawsuits, they do just that although let me break it down for you:
- “Japanese steel knives” they use 420J2 which is an economical steel for budget conscious cutlery (corrosion resistant) although SLD is a Japanese steel by Hitachi that is fairly highly regarded.
- “A thousand years of craftsmanship” Yanjiang, China – a town with over 1,000 years of knife and sword making heritage.
- “Tokyo, Japan” anybody can open an office anywhere in the world but it doesn’t mean you’re a Japanese company as much as Apple is an Irish company.
What Kind of Steel Does Kamikoto Use
“420J2 steel for the Genten Series or SLD steel for the Ganjo Series. The 420J2 steel gives the Genten Series blades an HRC of rough 53″– Kamikoto.com
The pitch by Kamikoto is “high-quality steel from Honshu 本州, Japan – a steel with high corrosion resistance and durability.” Whoever is doing their marketing knows how to dance around with facts to market their knives because it is “high-quality” although it’s an economical stainless steel.
If Kamikoto is so deceitful about where their product is produced, can you really trust what sort of steel they claim to use? Also, no Japanese cites “Honshu,” because that would be like an American marketing salsa from the mainland US (that’s vague).You get what I am saying, touting a region like the Westcoast vs the Eastcoast (80% of the US population is in the Midwest/Eastcoast) is the Kamikoto equivalent. Honshu has a population of 104 million as of 2017, constituting 81.3% of the entire population of Japan,
Try looking for information about the type of steel they use, it will be a struggle.
“420A (420J1) and 420B ( 420J2 ) are economical, highly corrosion resistant stainless steel grades. Knife manufacturers use this material in budget knives, also in diving knives due to its high resistance to corrosion.”– Wikipedia.org
What they think of 420J2 on BladeForums.com
According the Hitachi-metals or Yasugi Specialty Steel (YSS), SLD is “cold work die steel with high abrasion resistance for general use, excellent harden-ability and minimal quench stress.”– Hitachi-metals (aka YSS)
A Lot of People Are in on It (Paid Media Collaborators)
Not only do they pay chefs in the U.S., but they also have paid media collaborators such as Medium.com to Reviewed.com (many of you will see paid ads on YouTube).
“My husband is a chef, and the only thing he’s asked for this year is the Kanpeki Knife set. A favorite of sushi chefs, these knives have handcrafted Japanese steel blades”– Reviewed.com
Yes, “sushi chefs,” sure. They will imply anything and everything such as mentioning Japanese cuisine, sushi, chefs, to sushi chefs, but to cut through all the marketing hype put out by Reviewed, I will let Kamikoto say it in their own words:
“Fully versed in traditional blade-making practices, Kamikoto’s blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Niigata, Japan, where blacksmithing can be traced back to before the Edo period, as well as in Yanjiang, China – a town with over 1,000 years of knife and sword making heritage. Today, Yanjiang is the leading center of Japanese-style knife forging, polishing and balancing – where the Japanese legacy is preserved, and carried on, with reverence for the skill of the knifesmiths who evolved this craft centuries ago.”– Kamikoto.com
On their other Canadian website:
“Our blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Yanjiang, China – a town with over 1,000 years of knife and sword making heritage, and today, the leading center of Japanese-style knife forging”– CA.Kamikoto.com
A key aspect of Japanese blades is the Japanese blacksmiths, who can work with the various alloys with high carbon content (for high edge retention). The Rockwell rating (HRC) is a hardness scale, and it matters because you can sharpen a 2-dollar butter knife to cut razor-thin slices, but if it does not hold its edge, you’ve got a 2-dollar butter knife.This sums up why Japanese knives are sought after and why cheap knives are cheap.
One Hack and One Legit Blog That Typically Produces Great Content
I am shocked at how bad this article is on the legit blog, and they do not cite who wrote it, but it is so bad, which is probably why they did not cite the writer which I do not fault them for. Although, for the other blog, I will leave their name in the imagery because of how bad and blatantly obvious their Kamikoto puff piece is (come on my fellow cohort, really dude).
Kitchen Ambitions ambition sounds like it is solely only out to make a buck by any means necessary because what they wrote is the worst of the worst.
The first part, how is Kamikoto Japanese cutlery? Just because you call your large a “venti,” that does not make your product Italian or the “real deal.”
Except this is the dumbest of the dumbest thing they said here “better yet, they’re resistant to corrosion in a way most Japanese knives are not.” Well, Mr./Mrs. Kitchen Ambition, you cannot have “exceptionally durable and corrosion resistant” because that would mean a high carbon content, which makes it not so resistant to corrosion. Also they claim to be a Japanese knife, yet they outdo “most Japanese knives,” huh?
So the Japanese have high-end knives that cost several thousand, yet Kamikoto can deliver a set of HIGH-END QUALITY knives for only $279? So the other Japanese brands must rip everybody off because Kamikoto, Sakai Takayuki (a real Japanese craftsmen), to Masamoto (what sushi chefs really use), are all the same to this writer, all “high-end quality.” BTW, a Honda Accord has a high build quality over a McLaren costing 8-9x’s more which is something the Japanese are known for, a quality product at any price point.
I like this blog, so I covered up their name because people need to make a living, and I just cannot believe they took the money to write such bad content (although I do not fault them for that either).
The parts that are BAD is giving such a bad blanket statement of “…any other high-end brand” is eff’n ridiculous. That would be like saying “hey, this VW Jetta is made of the same steel as this Lamborghini Aventador, so that makes them quite comparable to cars from the Volkswagen Group AG or any other high-end car brand, like Bentley. Also to further reinforce this point, go read my blog post on steels.
Compare the top and the bottom (same website), but look at how their tune has completely changed 180 degrees.
Yes, you can be Finnish or French and set up a company in Japan, and at least this source which typically does good content said “Japanese-style knives,” which I expect from them (their content is typically very good). Except for this part, I am most amused by is that they are constantly pushing Yoshihiro knives out of Beverly Hills/eChefKnife. Throughout their copy, they are like, “hey, these Kamikoto knives are great, but if you trip and fall and it falls down the gutter, just re-order another one, and while you are at it, pick up a Yoshihiro knife too.”
Narcissistic Social Media Influencers Willing to Do Anything for Free Product and Instafame
If you want to see how many people want to be instafamous as “influencers” for a free set of Chinese knives (worth $9? to $36?) or whatever compensation they are being provided, take a look at them (below image). Not to mention this dude (@bent_fork_wearables) who goes by his feelings which is why he touts “he loves them,” so the fact they are not Japanese does not matter anymore because they’re Japanese if you go by his feelings.”
If you want to look like a successful “influencer,” you take any handout offered. There are all too many who are willing to provide you with a deceitful product, especially during the holiday months, November and December. This page will get a +471-525% increase in traffic.During the holidays they will do anything to whore out Kamikoto (the saddest ones are the ones who are Asian or Japanese American). So to combat this issue, please share this or any others content, it will make a difference.
The irony is unfortunately lost on individuals who are so invested into a company because they got a free knife or some other compensation (imagine what dude would do for a free set of forks).
What Actual Blade Enthusiasts and Chefs Really Think
In the automotive industry to cutlery, forums are some of the best, if not the best places to go to get as much unbiased feedback as possible to get online, which is also why you need to check out these two sources:
- BladeForums.com – “what knife steel does kamikoto use?”
- ChefTalk – “Kamikoto knives.”
Why Does This Matter? It Matters if You Are Looking for a Japanese Knife
Yea it should not matter where something is produced, but the point is that these Chinese companies think you’re stupid. On top of that, they idolize the Japanese, so they pretend to be Japanese even though the Chinese have been producing knives for over a 1,000 years.
So the issue with all these companies is that they make no investment into building a Chinese brand which is ridiculous since there are well-known Chinese based brands growing by the day (one such brand that I love is Anker, out of Shenzhen Guangdong, China – Steven Yang is gangsta. A brand that focuses on product quality and customer service with minimal packaging).
How They Try to Convince You That Going Through a Trusted Retailer Does Not Matter
Kamikoto says it and illustrates it the best:
Kamikoto says they are direct-to-consumer (D-T-C), so they save you a 5-6x (markup) and they tout that other brands have a retail store markup, staff cost, operation cost, logistics, middleman, wholesalers, and importers.– Kamikoto
Although this is silly because Kamikoto also has equivalent costs, and anybody who knows anything will know that this comparison is grossly distorted. Everything they listed is all under one umbrella of “retail store markup,” such as staff cost, operational cost, to a leased space. Not to mention, they throw in logistics as an aspect on its own, but it is once again part of the “middlemen, wholesalers, and importers.”
What they fail to communicate is that the chain of retailers/importers, etc. are people who are committed to and stand behind the products that they are selling and servicing. So, if you have all these other individuals invested in your product, I think you can consider that company, individual, and product to be properly vetted.
Forget the “Kamikoto name brand (hahaha),” just buy a similar or better product wholesale on AliExpress for $27.55-$35.46. Yet Kamikoto sells for $279?!?! (I guess to pay for that box it comes in).You can name your company KamiKiki or Knife Finnish for that Finnish knife brand with left-handed knives called the Matti Kurki line made in China (I joke, but that might do well).
For $22 a Knife, You Can Start Your Own Company
From AliExpress.com to MadeinChina.com, you can start your own company because there are a ton of companies willing to sell you a “Japanese” or “damascus” style knife. One such company on Made in China is Yangjiang Jingchuan Industrial Co., Ltd, which will sell you an 8″ inch “Japanese damascus” chef knife for $22.
If You Are Buying Online, You Will Most Likely Come Across a Company Like Kamikoto
The reason why that will more than likely happen is because most Japanese typically don’t do marketing/online advertising (yet alone sell things based upon it being on sale).
Galton Voysey is a talented bunch of people, so it is a shame that they continue to take the DealDash approach of using the business model of getting something perceived as expensive for cheap. Except, with these individuals, they could easily produce a GREAT BRAND because they have the right components, minus an understanding of branding.A brand simply manages expectations which is why Galton Voysey does not understand branding, but they do get deceit: “the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.”
Most Japanese companies are oblivious to online marketing, and they rely heavily on word of mouth, reputation, and their partners (relationships) such as retailers to sell and service their product. Retailers and cutlery experts with decades of experience selling European to Japanese cutlery.
If you are looking for a Japanese knife/knives, please support your local businesses, and you can find the leading Japanese Authorized knife dealers here.
Kamikoto vs. Japanese Knife Brands
I finally produced a direct comparison, and I was shocked at the margins which were larger than I thought they would be (5 Japanese brands, 1 German brand vs. Kamikoto).
There are numerous Japanese brands that start under $100 (starting at $49), and they are what line cooks and sushi chefs really use because if you were to show up with a Kamikoto to a restaurants BOH, it’s like showing up with a chop-o-matic, embarrassing.
Thanks for reading