Nubatama 240mm Wa-Gyuto. This custom knife comes with a handle made by Isaiah Schroeder. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the highest level of Nubatama knives is the use of Black Steel. Indeed, the entire line of knives is named based on this fact - and the stones as well.
Nubatama is a word that means 'Black' It is a subtle word, implying a beautiful black and also implying a characteristic of hardness. This word has ancient origins, being used in the earliest existing works of Japanese poetry. The Manyoshu a collection of poems compiled around 759 AD, includes several poems going back to 347 AD. You can find references using the word 'nubatama' in several tanka or short poems in this collection. There is also the association of the beautiful jet black hair of a beautiful woman. So these characteristics accurately describe the intentions of the knifemaker - a knife made of black steel, a deep sense and respect for ancient Japanese traditions, a sense of beauty and hardness describing the characteristics of this steel. A 'Black beauty'.
The knives are made by a knifemaker whose family has been making knives for generations. While the details are a closely guarded secret, the steel itself is considerably more expensive than the blue or white steels and more difficult to work, yet produces a superb result. It is the highest quality of steel that the knifemaker uses. These knives are individually made. In addition, he also uses both white and blue steels, which are less expensive. Even here, his white steel forging processes are distinctive to optimize the steel's characteristics. He makes both single and double beveled knives, including ryobas or gyutos, santoku, yanagis, debas, usubas, and other custom designs. Knives with blade lengths to 330 mm are available (longer are also available up to more than 400mm on special request). Left handed blades are also available for an extra 20%, far more reasonable than most smiths, probably because he is left handed. At the time the knife is made (before exporting them), the knife can also be custom engraved in Kanji. Before shipping, the knives are sharpened by a sword polisher (another individual). At the time of purchase, either a white or blue Ho saya can be ordered. These are only done at that time, custom fitted to the individual knife for a perfect fit. Knives can be requested without handles for those wishing to put on their own custom handles (or sayas).
The double beveled knives are clad, which allows the steel to be tempered to a harder level. Edge retention is outstanding. This has been the opinion of chefs both here in the USA and in Kyoto. Touchups are easy and rarely needed compared to most other knives I've used.
This Gyutos shape has flatter profile. Here are some specs on this knife: