Content - Swiss design meets Edo craftsmanship

  • September 22, 2017

Swiss design meets Edo craftsmanship

Osaka (SCCIJ) – Pocket knives are not just a handy tool, but can also fascinate their users with the beauty of their design and materials. They can also easily be personalized. Accordingly, Japanese customers of Victorinox, the world’s largest manufacturer of pocket knives, can receive for a fee an individual engraving which is produced on the spot. At the Grand Front Osaka Victorinox store, this concept was taken to the extreme with the offer of ordering an urushi lacquer calligraphy executed by a Japanese master calligrapher. At the most recent Chamber’s Kansai event, members and guests of the SCCIJ had the chance to experience this special and unique offer at a one-off event.

Victorinox at Grand Front Osaka

Evowood pocket knives

Enjoying Swiss wines and appetizers, participants of the event ordered their custom-made Victorinox “Evowood” pocket knife with an engraved personal message or statement in Japanese kanji and optionally also with their name. The calligrapher Unokichi Tachibana who would write the Japanese letters on the handle within two months was personally present and introduced to the guests by Ms. Mamiko Tanaka, Representative Director of Victorinox Japan.  

Unokichi Tachibana is a former student of Ukon Tachibana, a deceased calligrapher who evolved the edomoji writing style into the yosemoji writing style. The general term ‘edomoji’ describes the lettering styles that were developed and frequently used during the Edo period for publicity and programs for arts like kabuki and rakugo.  

In 1969, the old master gave his student Hideo Yoshida the alias name "Unokichi Tachibana", under which he went on to found his own company in order to modernize the Edo writing traditions. Until today, the now 67-year-old artist has been creating handwritten posters for Kabuki theater performances. Another of his specialties is to translate Western names into Japanese kanji by taking into account the meaning of the Western name.

SCCIJ Kansai event at Grand Front Osaka Victorinox store (click to enlarge)

SCCIJ Kansai event at Grand Front Osaka Victorinox store (click to enlarge)

Calligrapher Unokichi Tachibana at the SCCIJ Kansai event (click to enlarge)

Calligrapher Unokichi Tachibana at the SCCIJ Kansai event (click to enlarge)

Proverb drawn in urushi lacquer

The drawings on the Victorinox "Evowood" knives are executed in urushi lacquer on top of the knife handles made of Swiss walnut wood. Urushi is a precious natural lacquer collected by hand from the urushi trees. The Swiss walnut wood of these particular Victorinox knives is a perfect match for urushi. "It cannot be applied to every type of wood, but it happily matches with this Swiss wood," Tachibana explained at the event.  

One event participant ordered as an engraving the four kanji proverb stating "treasure every meeting, for it will never recur". Similarly, the SCCIJ Kansai event was a unique opportunity to experience the match of Swiss design and craftsmanship of Edo culture. These special, custom-made knives come in two sizes with a starting price of JPY 18,300 (plus tax). The service is currently not available at the Osaka store anymore. Please contact Victorinox Japan, if you would like to have your special customized pocket knife.    


Text: Martin Fritz with input by Mr. Christian Schaufelbühl (SCCIJ Kansai) and Victorinox Japan; Photos: SCCIJ Kansai (middle, low) and Victorinox Japan (top)

Our Sponsors