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Collecting the Best Japanese Knives for Your Kitchen

The Japanese have a legendary swordmaking tradition that spans hundreds of years. To this day, their continuing devotion to craftsmanship, beauty, and efficiency is well-known among knifemakers. The best Japanese knives have their own sense of function and aesthetics, and you may even find these types of knives manufacturedby US and European brands.

There are of course several different types of Japanese knives, just as there are different types of western knives. However, Japanese knives are a little bit different because they are intended for a different set of typical dishes to prepare. 

For the most part, Japanese chefs require knives that are designed for more delicate cutting, and because of the delicacy of the cuts, the knives they use are much lighter.Japanese knives are also designed to be sharper, so they are generally made from tougher steel so that they don’t lose their sharpness over the course of a single day.

So how do you come up with the best Japanese knives for your kitchen? Take a look at our top picks so you can say sayonara to any sort of problems when you make sushi—or any type of gourmet dish at home. 

9 Best Japanese Knives - Comparisons

Image

Product Name

Blade Material

Blade Length

Price

Misono UX10 Gyutou

Swedish Steel

8.2"

YOSHIHIRO Ice Hardened

Carbon Stainless Steel

9.5"

Kershaw Pure Komachi 2

Carbon Stainless Steel

6.5"

Shun Classic Nakiri Knife

Stainless-Steel

6-1/2"

Tojiro DP Sujihiki Slicer

Stain-Resistant Steel

9.4"-10.5"

Yoshihiro Aoko

Stain Resistance Steel

5.3"

Masamoto Kasumi Yanagi

Stainless Steel

10.5"

Ginsu Gourmet Chikara

420J Stainless Steel

3.5"-7"

Enso HD 6-piece Steak Knife

VG-10 Steel

5.5"

Best Japanese Knives - Reviews

1. Misono UX10 Gyutou Chef’s Knife

Misono UX10 Gyutou Chef’s Knife

The Gyutou resembles a western chef’s knife quite a bit, and just like a chef’s knife, this one is also a multi-purpose tool. You can use it slice your meat and fish, as well as your vegetables. It has a long and thin blade, which offers a lot of agility. It’s best suited for precision work such as mincing, rather than cutting through bone and cartilage or through larger pieces of meat.

This knife is available in several different lengths, ranging from 7 and 8.2 inches up to 9.4 and 10.5 inches. The UX10 is the top of the line knife model from Misono, no wonder it’s a favorite among professional chefs all over the world.

The knife’s blade is made from Swedish stain-resistant steel with a hardness rating of 59-60 on the Rockwell scale, and it’s sharper because of its asymmetrical edge. It comes to you sharp right at the get-go and you can make very thin slices with this, with the slices falling easily from the blade. It’s triple-riveted to the handle, which is made of composite wood.

What we liked

  • The blade can be so sharp it’s actually scary. It also holds its edge very well and it’s easy to sharpen.
  • The handle sits comfortably in your hand, and it works well with your standard rocking motion. It’s made in the western style, so it should feel familiar in your hand.
  • It’s much lighter than European kitchen knives, and it’s got a great balance for the weight. 
  • You can polish this blade to a mirror finish. 
  • It’s very reassuring to know that many executive chefs in restaurants with Michelin stars use this model. 

What we didn't like

  • Where’s the sheath? You better figure out where you’re going to put this knife safely, as you can’t just have it lying around. It’s so sharp that accidents can happen without proper storage.

2. Yoshihiro Ice Hardened Japanese Chef’s Knife

Yoshihiro Ice Hardened Japanese Chef’s Knife

What if you prefer a Japanese “Wa” handle on your Gyuto knife? If that’s the case, then you may want to take a look at this Yoshihiro knife. It has an octagon-shaped handle made from natural magnolia, and it also features a water buffalo horn bolster. 

Of course, the whole knife itself is a marvel. That’s unsurprising when you find out that the Yoshiro Cutlery brand has more than a century of history, and they only started offering their knives to the world outside Japan in 2008. Their artisan craftsmen use techniques originatingfrom 14th-century Japanese sword making.

The blade of this thin knife is made from AUS-8 Inox molybdenum stainless steel and it is incredibly sharp. Just don’t use it on bones and frozen foods, and you’re good. 

What we liked

  • It’s quite nimble, especially for a long knife. 
  • The blade arrives to you sharp right out of the box, and it’s very easy to resharpen. It’s also stain-resistant.
  • With this knife, you can make really thin slices. 
  • It comes with a nice sheath. 

What we didn't like

  • The thing with the stainless steel used for this blade is that it’s not that great at retaining its sharp edge, so you may have to sharpen it more frequently.

3. Kershaw Pure Komachi 2 Hollow Ground Santoku

Kershaw Pure Komachi 2 Hollow Ground Santoku

The Santoku knife is another great multipurpose Japanese knife. Now you can try out the Misono UX10 Santoku, which it’s excellent, though a bit pricey.But what if you want to get an extremely affordable Japanese knife that’s made by a US-brand? If that’s the case, then this Kershaw Santoku knife is a great option. 

The price may startle you at first—because it’s so low. You may not realize how affordable this knife is, especially when you just take a look at it. It’s distinctive with its black overall look (that includes the blade), and it sure doesn’t look cheap.

The blade is 6.5 inches long, and it’s made of stainless steel with high carbon content for extra toughness. It’s extremely sharp, and the carbon content allows the blade to retain that sharp edge for a longer period of time.

And don’t worry about the resin on the blade—it’s food-grade and approved by the FDA. But not just it’s there for the looks,it also gives the blade a non-stick capability.Its color will remind you about cross-contamination, so you won’t use the knife on meat and then follow it up by using it on your veggies.

The blade design features the typical hollow indentations around the edge of the blade that helps with food release and easier cutting. It’s a very nimble Santoku knife due to the light weight and shorter length of the blade, but be careful, the blade comes with a 16-degree cutting angle on each side, and it’s very sharp indeed. This comes with a nicely ergonomic handle along with a sheath.

What we liked

  • The sharpness of this knife is terrific, and you won’t have trouble cutting stuff in the kitchen. It’s also great at retaining its sharp edge. 
  • The resin on the blade makes it much easier to clean.
  • The design allows you to cut without drag. 
  • It comes with a handle that’s very comfortable to hold. 
  • The overall value for the money is unbelievable. 
  • It also comes with a sheath.

What we didn't like

  • This isn’t a full-tang knife, and the plastic handle is hollow, so you may need to get used to the weight distribution a bit before you can use this knife with agility.

4. Shun Classic 6-1/2-Inch Stainless-Steel Nakiri

Shun Classic 6-12-Inch Stainless-Steel Nakiri

Shun is one of the premier knife brands among Japanese knives, and they combine exquisite designs with ruthless functional efficiency. If you have the budget for it, you can solve your collection problem simply by getting a set of Shun kitchen knives and call it a day. 

This knife is a superb example of Shun craftsmanship. This is a nakiriknife, and its traditional use is for chopping, dicing, and slicing vegetables. Nakiris tend to resemble a short cleaver. The nakiri form measures 11 inches long overall with a 2-inch width, and the blade is 6.5 inches long. 

You will certainly notice the wavy lines on the blade characteristic of the Damascus look. That’s due to the 16 layers of stainless steel around the blade on each side. These layers add to the strength and flexibility of the blade, while they also boost the blade’s resistance to corrosion.

The blade core itself is made from premium VG-10 stainless steel with high amounts of carbon to make sure that the blade retains its sharp edge for a long time. It sure is sharp, and that’s also due to the 16-degree cutting angle. Slicing with this knife is much easier thanks to the microscopic air pockets that minimize the friction when you slice.

The wooden handle is just as beautiful, as it’s made from resin-impregnated pakkawood. It’s NSF-certified for use in commercial establishments, so it’s certainly suitable for home use. It’s available in the standard D-shaped handle, but you can get it in reverse if you’re left-handed. 

What we liked

  • The whole knife looks absolutely stunning. 
  • The blade is super sharp and it says that way for a very long while. 
  • Its handle is durable and easy to hold. 
  • There’s a comfortable offset steel bolster for greater safety. 

What we didn't like

  • Just this one knife is a bit expensive, which can make it rather a pricey proposition to collect just Shun Japanese knives for your kitchen knife collection.

5. Tojiro DP Sujihiki Slicer

Tojiro DP Sujihiki Slicer

This one is also available at 9.4 inches, but you may want to go with the 10.5-inch version instead. The Sujihiki is expressly suited for slicing boneless protein such as meat, fish, and poultry. The blade is long and narrow, and its short height reduces the friction you encounter so can make really thin slices. You can even use this knife for some fruits such as watermelons.

The blade of this Tojiro model is made fromVG-10 stain-resistant steel. It is double-edged so it can be used by both left and right-handed chefs. They come to you sharp right out of the box, and with its60 Rockwell hardness rating it will stay sharp for a long time. The handle is made from composite wood, and it’s shaped to fit your fingers better.

What we liked

  • The VG-10 steel also holds its sharpness very well. It will take a long time before you need to resharpen this knife. When it is time for resharpening, you will find that it’s very easy to bring the edge back to its previous sharp state. 
  • This steel is truly stain-resistant. You can use this every day for an entire year and you still won’t find any stains at all. 
  • The high carbon amount in the steel gives the blade more toughness than your usual Japanese slicer. In case you do encounter bone in your meat when you make your slice, the blade won’t chip as a result. 
  • The western-style triple-riveted handle fits comfortably in your hands. 
  • The price to performance ratio is outstanding. It’s one of the reasons why many people collect Tojiro knives for their Japanese kitchen knife collection. 

What we didn't like

  • Tojiro is a Japanese company, and perhaps they haven’t really thought about how they’re selling to non-Japanese customers. The manual is just horrible, as though the translator didn’t quite know their job. 
  • The saya sheath is a separate purchase. 

6. Yoshihiro Aoko Japanese Utility Chef’s Knife

Yoshihiro Aoko Japanese Utility Chef’s Knife

A Japanese petty knife can range from 3.5 to 8 inches in length, though you may want to go for something in the middle. In terms of function, it’s basically used like western utility or paring knives. The Yoshihiro version looks gorgeous, but its main selling point is its undeniable effectiveness.

The blade core is made from high carbon Blue Steel #2 that has a Rockwell rating of 62 to 63. The edge can get really sharp, and with its hardness you can be sure that it stays sharp for a very long time.

The core is then sandwiched between 2 layers of softer stainless steel. This cladding process gives the knife its distinctively elegant look, but there’s more to it than just aesthetics. The cladding layers increase the blade’s resistance to corrosion, plus they reduce the friction you feel when you make your cuts. These layers also prevent the food bits from sticking to the blade.

The handle is made from classy pakkawood and it extends to the full tang of the blade. It’s been shaped ergonomically so that it fits your hand nicely for effortless and comfortable use. 

What we liked

  • This is a great-looking knife with the hammered texture and pakkawood handle. 
  • The blade is extremely sharp, and it will remain sharp for a very long while. 
  • The handle is easy to hold and control. It’s full-tang and triple-riveted, so there’s no possibility of a wobbly handle. 
  • This knife, especially with its 5.3-inch length, can be used for meal preparation and for jobs such as carving fruits for a stylish presentation. 
  • The purchase includes a great saya cover as well as a small container of Tsubaki knife oil and rust eraser set. 

What we didn't like

  • Despite the cladding, there is still a chance of staining. You’ll need to keep this knife as dry as you can, and you may want to use the Tsubaki knife oil on it before putting it away.

7. Masamoto 27 cm.(10.5") Kasumi Yanagi w

Masamoto 27 cm.(10.5) Kasumi Yanagi w

This sashimi knife has long been available in Japan exclusively, and before chefs had to make a pilgrimage to the country of they wanted to buy it. And those who did have it, babied this particular knife for many years because it’s outstanding at what it does. Now it’s available for international buyers online.

The blade of this knife is made from an extremely hard type steel with a high carbon content that pushes its Rockwell rating all the way to 62 to 63. This shiro-ko (white iron) material is not stainless steel, which explains the need for coddling for the knife. The knife also comes with a wooden handle, a water buffalo horn bolster, and a wooden knife cover too. 

What we liked

  • The carbon steel edge for the blade is super-sharp, and it can remain that way for an extremely long time due to the hardness. Chefs can use this knife to slice up hundreds of fish for many years to come. 
  • The balance of the weight is excellent, and coupled with the nicely molded handle you’ll be able to use and control this knife with no issues whatsoever. 
  • The length of the blade is great, and it delivers terrific results. 
  • It comes with a nice wooden cover. 

What we didn't like

  • You will really need to pamper this blade with meticulous maintenance, because it doesn’t use stainless steel. Any sort of neglect when it comes to cleaning and drying this knife could result in staining.

8. Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged Japanese Knife 

Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Forged Japanese Knife

Many premium Japanese knives also have premium prices, and sometimes the price of an entire set is hefty enough to give you a heart attack. But that doesn’t mean that those with a limited budget can’t have their own Japanese kitchen knives. This set from Ginsu is a prime example, as the price of the whole thing is only half the price of a single premium Japanese knife.

This set doesn’t look cheap, however. All of the knives look great, and you get 8 different knives at one go. There’s the 8-inch chef’s knife, a 7-inch Santoku, a 5-inch utility knife and another 5-inch utility knife with a serrated edge, a 3.5-inch paring knife, and even kitchen shears. The set comes with a honing rod to maintain the sharp edges of the knives, and they’re all contained in an elegant bamboo-finish block.

These are all forged knives, with their blades made from 420J2 Japanese stainless-steel. The blade, bolster, and tang are all made from a single piece of steel, which makes these knives strong and well-balanced. They have traditional Japanese handles that are resistant to heat and water. 

What we liked

  • The set offers just about everything you need for food preparation. Just in case it’s not enough, Ginsu does offer 12-piece and even 19-piece sets. 
  • These knives are all really sharp, and they will remain sharp for a long time. In fact, the serrated knife in the set performs like a fine-edge knife—and it will never need to be sharpened again. 
  • The price is very friendly so even college students can afford this set. 
  • The knives don’t really need much in terms of maintenance. You just need to use them on the honing rod each time you use a knife, and wash them by hand afterwards. 
  • It’s been called a “best buy” by consumer reports 5 times, and it even comes with a lifetime limited warranty. 
  • The bamboo block is gorgeous too. 

What we didn't like

  • If you don’t wipe them down very carefully after you wash them, these knives will rust. That includes wiping the honing rod!

9. Enso HD 6-piece Steak Knife Set

Enso HD 6-piece Steak Knife Set

Japanese knives aren’t just about food preparation. They also have exceptional steak knives that can rival their western counterparts in effectiveness and beauty. The Enso knives are a good example of that. Available in sets of 2 to 6, these Enso steak knives can really mark a special occasion and impress your dinner guests.

The blade is 5.5 inches long, and the edge is plain and isn’t serrated. This results in very clean cuts, and it also makes resharpening the blade easier. Not that you’ll need to sharpen these any time soon—with their VG-10 blade core you will have a sharp edge that stays that way for a long while. Their hardness rating comes in at 61 on the Rockwell scale.

That blade core has been clad with 37 layers of stainless steel, and this gives you that hammered finish Damascus look that will enchant you and your guests. The double-bevel edge also allows both left and right-handed people to use these knives. The black handle is made from Micarta, which resembles the look and feel of wood—only with Micarta, you won’t need to worry about cracking.

What we liked

  • Enso has been in the business of using both well-trained craftsmen and advanced technology to make knives since 1932. 
  • The blade is extremely sharp, and it will deliver effortless cuts without having to shred the meat. 
  • The handle is very comfortable to hold, yet it’s durable too. 
  • These knives are gorgeous, and they will sure impress anyone who uses them. 

What we didn't like

  • With the pointy end, extreme sharpness, and elegant beauty, it’s not exactly a knife that you’ll feel comfortable letting your children use.

Final Verdict

There are very good reasons why Japanese knives are becoming much more popular these days. They deliver amazing results, and they can offer an aesthetic that’s quite entrancing. Yet the price range can vary so that even those with limited budgets can avail them. Try out some of the best Japanese knives listed here, and don’t be surprised when they become your favorite go-to knives instead of western ones. Buy one, and you may end up with a bunch them in the end!

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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