The Story Behind Sakai Kyuba’s Bugeisha Illustration

Ah, the evolution of Sakai Kyuba knives and the design of our decorative box! Since first time we released our signature Sakai Kyuba back in 2019, lots of things have changed – not only our name (Japana to Oishya). Almost everything, from design and materials of our knife handles, to decorative boxes, to leaflet paper choice, to packaging, we’ve been striving for simplicity and quality at its finest.

We’ve removed all artificial unnecessary materials like PVC protective foam and, 11 weeks and 84 iterations later, we arrived at a specially shaped wooden form, that keeps knives intact, even when some evil couriers decide to play football with our parcels. We made our wooden boxes lighter to save on that C02 during transit.

The only thing we haven’t changed were the blades.

They were perfect to begin with. The 600 years of Japanese craftsmanship tradition was long enough to master a beautiful and functional piece of art that can last for generations and serve just as great, when properly taken for.

When designing the illustration for our knife box sleeves, we wanted to pay tribute to the rich history and culture behind our blades. The onna-bugeisha, fierce female samurai warriors, embodied the same dedication to their craft, precision and bravery that we pour into each Sakai Kyuba and Seki Kyuba knives.

 

Onna-bugeisha, the highly skilled female fighters of feudal Japan, are often overlooked in common depictions of samurai. At Oishya, we wanted to pay tribute to their bravery and the rich tapestry of Japanese art and culture that informs our own craftsmanship. We commissioned an illustration from a promising up-and-coming artist Eva to capture the essence of these warriors and the spirit of Sakai Kyuba knives.

The artist masterfully incorporated iconic elements of Japanese art, such as the powerful waves of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” and symbols like the phoenix, representing resilience and renewal. Our Oishya kamon pattern, subtly woven into the onna-bugeisha’s armour, creates a visual link between our brand and the enduring legacy of Japanese craftsmanship.

This was the first version she created for us:

Version 1

first version oishya illustration sakai kyuba

Oishya Sakai Kyuba boxes range on white

Sakai Kyuba knife box on restaurant counter

The choice to center our company kamon (Japanese family crest from Edo’s period) in the composition further reinforces the authentic Japanese origins of Sakai Kyuba and Seki Kyuba knives. Discerning customers can immediately recognise these are not mass-produced imitations, but true works of functional art, handcrafted by masters.

our kamon armoury logotype
Japanese samurai armour featuring kamon which Oishya holds in our logo – displaying three geisha fans.
logotype japana london
Oishya’s logo

 

As you unbox your Sakai Kyuba knife and behold the onna-bugeisha illustration, take a moment to appreciate all that it represents. The artistry, the symbolism, the centuries of tradition distilled into a single, striking image. Then let that appreciation infuse your every slice, knowing that you are now part of an enduring legacy of strength, skill, and storytelling.

This is the essence of Sakai Kyuba, and the heart of our onna-bugeisha illustration. A testament to the power of art to inspire, to connect, and to endure, as timeless and indomitable as the blades themselves.

Version 2

As we refined the packaging, we also streamlined the colour scheme of the illustration to create a more striking, luxurious feel. The black and gold palette is timeless and allows the dynamic movement of the scene to really pop. It also coordinates beautifully with the elegant wooden box and the carefully selected handle materials.

Version 3

Sakai Kyuba Japanese Kitchen Knife Set by Oishya: The Gift Box

oishya illustration box featuring onna bugeisha

 

 

Indeed, every element of Sakai Kyuba, from the packaging to the leaflet detailing our story, is designed to create an immersive experience for our customers. Opening their knife box for the first time, they are transported to another world – one of samurai, traditional Japanese craftsmanship, and unrivalled quality.

The substantial feel of the knife in hand, the perfect balance, the razor-sharp blade – all of these details demonstrate our obsessive commitment to getting it right. You can feel the generations of skill and artistry in every slice, knowing they are now part of a long and proud history.

Some may call us perfectionists (and we’d have to agree). But that dedication is what elevates Sakai Kyuba beyond just another kitchen tool.

Our knives are a statement piece, a work of art, and an extension of the user’s own passion for cooking and excellence. So when you ask how we like the end result, there is only one answer – we love it! And we know you will too, whether you are a professional chef or an avid home cook.

Sakai Kyuba and Seki Kyuba are more than just a knives – it is an experience, one that we are honoured to share with the world.

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