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Meiji was the era when Japan discovered Western culture, values, commerce, science and… European cuisine. Only the most talented tableware and cutlery manufacturers were suitable enough to become suppliers to the Imperial Palace. Upper class Japanese people were longing to relinquish the kimono and chopsticks and wanted to quickly master the use of a metal knife and fork. They wanted to demonstrate their cultural savvy and exquisite taste to the emperor and his Western guests. For many centuries, Japanese smiths honed their skills by producing sharp, fast and deadly samurai weapons: katana, wakizashi and tanto. In the "enlightened" era of Meiji, when personal weapons were almost taboo, the Japanese masters and artists were creating a special new kind of weapon, aesthetically pleasing as well as functional; Western in style, but truly Japanese in their design and implementation.