Documenting the lived experience and human condition

Portland, Oregon | Photo Stories | Yohhei Sato

Portland, Oregon | Photo Stories | Yohhei Sato

Portland, Oregon Photo Stories by Mary Anne Funk.

Meet Yohhei Sato

Location: What’s The Scoop? Portland, Oregon/July 2015

Photo © 2015 Mary Anne Funk 2015 – Yohhei Sato wets down his water stone as he prepares to sharpen the next knife. On Location: What’s The Scoop? in North Portland, Oregon

Yesterday, while taking a break from editing Artful Journey of Life, I took a walk around my neighborhood. A hot day, lead me into a local ice cream shop, What’s The Scoop? in North Portland for a cold delicious vegan sorbet. While there, I met Yohhei Sato. I noticed him standing over a table, wearing an apron with a set of knives laid out onto the table. “What are you doing?” I asked him. “Sharpening knives” he said. “I do this throughout Portland.”  Yohhei is co-owner of Sato Sharpening here in Portland, Oregon.

We continued to speak briefly about his life and what he does, including how he does theater acting, modeling and camping with friends while wearing costumes, such as camping in tuxedos.  I asked him if I could take some photographs of him sharpening the knives and if I could spend some time asking him questions when he was finished. The following images and story are just a glimpse into Yohhei’s background story.  I will be contacting him to spend time recording his story further and photographing his lived experiences.

© 2015 Mary Anne Funk. Yohhei Sato sharpening a knife. On location at What's The Scoop in North Portland.
© 2015 Mary Anne Funk. Yohhei Sato sharpening a knife. On location at What’s The Scoop? in North Portland.

Yohhei Sato is a professional knife sharpener and co-owner of Sato Sharpening in Portland, Oregon. He is also a theater actor, a model, a judo expert, and, he is an individual who enjoys experiencing new things in life.

Yohhei grew up in Niigata Japan.  It was there that he was taught how to sharpen knives by his Uncle. He was young boy when he first began learning and he continued to learn over the years by watching others and by working in various kitchens as a chef.

Yohhei moved to Portland 11 years ago, on his own, with no family or friends in the area. He is now 30. He came here without the blessing of his parents who had hoped he would pursue Judo and compete in the olympics. Instead, he followed his own calling and he left Japan and came to Portland to study Anthropology and to the United States to spend time studying Native American culture with an emphasis on the Sioux tribe in Wyoming. Yohhei began studying the Sioux tribe when he was in high school.

While taking classes at the University, Yohhei became bored and found that what he was learning was what he already knew from all the years he has been studying Native American culture. He decided it was better to pursue his studies on his own and to spend time with the Sioux in Wyoming.
Yohhei has continued to study the Native American culture and the Sioux tribe on his own.

© 2015 Mary Anne Funk. Yohhei Sato sharpens a set of knives for his client, What’s The Scoop? On Location: What’s The Scoop? in North Portland, Oregon

While in college Yohhei took a theater class, “It was something I did secretly as a child”, he said “and when I took the class, I was hooked.” he spends time acting in various plays, most recently he just finished performing in a bike ride theater. This coming September, Yohhei will be working as a stage manager for a local play. In talking with Yohhei, I learned that for him, life is about living, exploring and taking chances. “I like to have fun” he said.

© 2015 Mary Anne Funk. Yohhei Sato inspects each knife by looking at it, feeling it, and slicing with it, after he sharpens it. On Location: What’s The Scoop? in North Portland, Oregon

After we finished talking, I asked if I could spend time with him beyond this moment to document his lived experiences, for Portland, Oregon Photo Stories and yes, that will also include photographing him and his friends, which are also known as “Team Fuck Yeah Let’s Do This”, enjoying life and camping in costumes. He smiled and said, yes! I am looking forward to spending more time with you, Yohhei and getting to know you. Thank you for sharing your story and time with me.


Peace and Love,
Mary Anne Funk