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The Best Japanese Knives

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Buyer's Guide

Japanese vs. Western-Style Knives – Blade Bevel

Bevel refers to the way a knife’s edge is formed. It can taper on both sides, or one side can be straight while the other is tapered.

Double-Bevel Knives

Double-bevel knives have typical western-style blades, but famous Japanese knives utilize the double bevel too (for example, the gyuto, a Japanese chef's knife). Since both sides are sharpened to create an angle, double-beveled blades are versatile and excel at making straight cuts.

Single-Bevel Knives

Japanese single-bevel knives have one straight edge and an angled side that forms the cutting surface. The single bevel makes cutting down straight difficult, but these knives are unmatched at slicing diagonally. Simply, nothing can beat a Japanese blade at specialty tasks like filleting fish.

Types of Japanese Knives

All kitchen knives are designed to perform specific tasks, and Japanese knives are no exception. In this guide, I’ll talk about the types of Japanese knives that you may want to have in your kitchen and what they're used for.

Gyuto

Both home and professional chefs need a high-quality chef's knife - ready to cut just about anything. In Japan, a kitchen cannot function without a gyuto knife, as it is likely the most versatile type of blade. Often called Japanese chef knives, gyuto knives come with double-bevel edges. At 7-12 inches in length, a Japanese chef's knife can come in handy for almost any task that may be required during cooking.

Santoku

With a name meaning “three virtues,” the Japanese santoku knife provides three different options for preparing food. In addition to cutting vegetables, this blade is excellent at slicing meat and fish.

Though a santoku knife looks like a gyuto at first glance, they have some key distinctions - Santoku knives typically come with a flat profile as opposed to a gyuto's curved blade. This makes santokus ideal for chopping and push cutting but not suitable for rock cutting. Santoku knives are double-beveled and their sizes range between 5” and 8.”

Paring

The short Japanese paring knife was designed to help with handling precision tasks that require a compact blade. At 3" to 4" long, the paring knife is essentially a tiny chef knife and it'll turn out to be useful in any kitchen.

Petty

The petty is a size bigger than a paring knife. It has a small, double-beveled blade (between 4" and 7") with a sharp point for precision slicing and chopping. It can be used to peel, trim, slice, shape, and chop - and it lets you complete all kitchen tasks nimbly and quickly as it gives you a lot of control.

Deba

If you regularly prepare fish at home, it’s time to purchase a knife that excels at filleting - the Japanese Deba. This heavy-weight, curved knife has a super sharp point. Like other traditional Japanese knives, it has a single beveled blade that is designed for diagonal cuts. These thick-spined knives are typically between 5" and 13" long.

Nakiri

A nakiri knife is a type of specialized vegetable knife. Its rectangular and flat design is similar to a cleaver, but it rocks a rounded tip. The double-beveled knives typically range between 5” and 7”, and they're excellent at slicing through long vegetables such as zucchini and carrots.

Handle

The handle determines how comfortable the knife feels in your hand, and by extension, the pressure and precision of your cuts and slices. Japanese knives come with either Western-style or traditional Japanese handles.

Western-style handles

Western-style handles probably feel familiar in your hand. The angular, ergonomic shape feels comfortable for both right and left-handed users. The handle is heavier since the metal blade passes all the way through it - plus they often come with metal rivets in the handle that increase the weight of the handle.

Japanese handles

Japanese handles are traditionally made of wood, and they typically come in a cylindrical or octagonal shape. The symmetrical shape is great for both left- and right-handed users, unlike a Japanese D-shaped handle that's designed primarily for righties. Due to the materials used, Japanese handles are lightweight - which gives you a unique blade-handle balance that increases agility.

Materials

Don't just pick any old metal for your next kitchen knife. When it comes to Japanese knives, you get to choose between two main types of blade material: carbon steel and stainless steel.

  • Stainless steel is easy to maintain - all you need to do is wash the knife and let it dry - it will never go rusty. Although stainless steel knives may be less likely to chip and corrode, they do not stay as sharp and retain their edge as well as carbon steel knives do. Ultimately, a stainless steel knife has a shorter lifespan because you need to sharpen it more often.
  • Most Japanese knives are made of high-carbon steel. This type of steel is tougher and sharper than stainless steel, but the downside is it can easily corrode and thus requires meticulous maintenance. Always dry your high-carbon steel knives after washing and don't put them in a dishwasher. These knives have incredibly resilient edges, so high-carbon knives require sharpening less frequently. They do chip on hard fish bones though.

Japanese knives are well known for their sharpness and durability. Their unmatched quality stems from the centuries-old knife-forging tradition that many Japanese brands nurture to this day.

But what exactly makes a Japanese knife so great? This blog post discusses the best Japanese knives in detail, including how to choose the right one and reviews of some popular models. Whether you're looking for your first quality knife or have been cooking for years, this article is sure to give you some useful guidance on finding the perfect blade.

Our Top Picks For Japanese Knives

Reviews Of The Best Japanese Knives From Our Research

1. Shun Cutlery Premier 8” Chef’s Knife

Sale
Shun Cutlery Premier 8” Chef’s Knife; Lightweight, Agile, Extremely Comfortable Grip, Perfect...
  • Premier 8-inch Chef’s knife will quickly become the most used knife in the kitchen; lightweight, agile and offering an...
  • Razor-sharp edge of blade is perfect for slicing, dicing and chopping a full range of fruits, vegetables and other...
  • Contoured, walnut-colored PakkaWood handle rests comfortably in any hand; hammered tsuchime finish helps release food...
  • Shun Cutlery knives make prep work fun and takes a typically mundane task from boring to exciting; Shun’s knives are...

Every kitchen needs a quality chef's knife. The Shun Premier gyuto is a versatile knife that can be used for slicing, dicing, and chopping. It's lightweight and comes with an extremely comfortable Pakkawood grip, which will help bring your cutting to the next level.

This chef's knife features a hand-hammered tsuchime blade finish, which doesn't let produce stick to the surface of the blade when you cut. The Shun Premier line is the pinnacle of cutlery craftsmanship and represents the highest expression of Shuns legendary Japanese blade-making heritage.

The blades are forged from VG-MAX super steel to form a super precise edge, then ice tempered for strength in the tradition of master Japanese swordsmiths to create an elegant, long-lasting cutting tool. Once you use it, you will understand why chefs all over the world praise Shun knives, and especially their Premier line.

You can get this knife in several sizes, including 6", 8", and 10".

2. Misono Swedish Carbon Steel Gyutou 9.4"

Misono Swedish Carbon Steel Gyutou 9.4" (24cm)
  • HIGHEST GRADE CARBON STEEL ✅: Misono uses Swedish carbon steel, considered to be one of the purest form of carbon...
  • HAND FORGED ✅: Misono has professionals in Sakai city hammer the carbon steel sheets to strengthened the steel exactly...
  • RAZOR SHARP BUT ONE MUST TAKE CARE OF THEIR KNIVES ✅: Carbon knives are non stain resistant
  • MULTI-PURPOSE ✅: The gyutou is a versatile chef's knife. It can be used for cutting meat, fish and vegetables, making...

Whether you're a professional chef or just like cooking at home, you need a knife that is razor-sharp and easy to sharpen. This Misono knife is the ultimate blade for those who insist on quality, versatility, and ease of use.

This model by Misono is a gyuto knife, which is a Japanese chef's knife. This type of knife can be used for any task in the kitchen from cutting fish to chopping vegetables, meats, and herbs. This particular model rocks a Western-style handle with metal rivets, so it's somewhat heavier.

The unique feature of this gyuto knife is its 70:30 asymmetrical bevel which gives you a supreme cut both straight down and diagonally.

Misono knives are made using high-quality Swedish steel that can be sharpened to a super sharp edge with ease. Swedish steel, one of the purest kinds of high-carbon steel, is used in professional kitchens across the world and it's respected for its strength.

This beautiful gyuto knife comes in three sizes - 8.2", 9.4", and 10.5".

3. DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 8" - Phantom Series

DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 8" - Phantom Series - Japanese High-Carbon - AUS8 Steel - Pakkawood Handle -...
  • Powerhouse Knife. Masterfully elegant, perfectly balanced, razor sharp and with exceptional performance, the Phantom...
  • Peak Performance: Mercilessly sharp, the Phantom Series edge is painstakingly honed by experts craftsman to 13-15° and...
  • The Dalstrong Touch: Full tang and precision forged from a single piece of ice tempered, high-carbon, Japanese AUS-8...
  • Design Perfection: A velvety rich black Spanish pakkawood handle is hand polished and laminated to ensure a heaven like...

While it's not one of the best Japanese chef knives on the market, Dalstrong's gyuto is a perfect budget pick that gives you great performance and doesn't break the bank.

Dalstrong is one of the most popular Japanese knife brands in the world. Their Phantom Series Chef Knife is an excellent choice for both newbies and experienced cooks that are looking for a high-quality blade with unique features, all at an affordable price point. The Dalstrong knives have gained their reputation by combining top-quality materials with modernized forging technologies.

The traditional Japanese D-shaped handle is made from black pakkawood, which offers increased stability and balance. The blade itself is made of Japanese high-carbon AUS8 Steel with high levels of chromium added. This gives you a knife with high stain resistance and superior sharpness retention.

This Dalstrong gyuto comes with a double bevel that's honed to 13-15° angle for an extra sharp blade edge. This 8" knife is comfortable to hold and it's well suited for cutting meat, fish, and vegetables.

4. Shun Classic Blonde 7” Santoku Knife

Shun Classic Blonde 7” Santoku Knife, Blonde PakkaWood Handle, Full Tang VG-MAX Blade
  • Shun's premium Classic Blonde Santoku Knife features our signature VG-MAX high carbon steel and layered Damascus...
  • The beautifully modern, D-shaped, blonde PakkaWood handle encases the full composite tang blade for balance, reducing...
  • A multi-purpose knife for virtually every cutting task in the kitchen, our Classic Blonde Santoku's 7-inch length and...
  • Handcrafted in Japan, this kitchen knife is ground and honed to a razor sharp 16-degree edge out of the box. It’s...

Shun is one of the most popular Japanese knife brands on the market. Here we have a classic 7"-long Santoku knife made by this legendary brand.

It features a beautiful VG-MAX high carbon steel blade with layered Damascus cladding. Shun’s VG-MAX high carbon steel is one of their most famous blade materials due to its toughness, sharpness, and edge retention, but you should carefully take care of the blade to prevent corrosion.

The handle is made of beautiful blonde Pakkawood in the traditional Japanese-style D-shape which gives it excellent stability and balance but also makes it a bit uncomfortable for left-handed users. It has the perfect weight for regular use in the kitchen, and its lighter weight prevents fatigue.

The edge of this double-bevel Santoku is sharpened at a 16° angle, giving you a razor-sharp edge. It excels at slicing, dicing, and chopping, but just as any Santoku knife doesn't perform well when rock-cutting.

5. DALSTRONG Santoku Knife - 7" - Gladiator Series

DALSTRONG Santoku Knife - 7" - Gladiator Series - German HC Steel - Sheath Included - NSF Certified
  • Outstanding craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, stunning design elements, and premium materials. Peak performance...
  • Incredibly razor sharp, full-tang, imported high-carbon German steel with a hand polished edge at 16-18 degrees per...
  • The premium black G10 Garolite handle is triple-riveted, with a grip that ensures comfort and maneuverability. Laminated...
  • Engineered to perfection at 56+ Rockwell hardness and hand polished to a satin finish. Carefully tapered for improved...

If you want to make your knife collection richer with a versatile Japanese knife but don't want to invest upwards of $100 into it, here's a great alternative. Here we have a high-quality, durable Dalsong Santoku knife that will do everything an expensive knife would for half the price.

The blade is made from high-carbon Damascus steel imported from Germany which has a long-lasting sharp edge and cuts through food with ease. The knife's double bevel is achieved by sharpening to 16-18 degrees per side. The tip of the blade curves down a bit further than traditional Santoku knives, which will give you seamlessly straight cuts.

Near the edge, this blade features oval-shaped hollow divots. Their purpose is to reduce suction and let slices fall off the knife easily, resulting in cleaner and more efficient slicing.

This Santoku rocks a western-style laminated pakkawood handle with three metal rivets and a heavy stainless-steel end cap for a great weight balance.

6. Yoshihiro 5.3'' Damascus Stainless Steel Petty Utility Knife

Yoshihiro VG-10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Stainless Steel Petty Utility Knife (5.3'' (135mm))
  • Forged and hammered with 16 layers of steel in the Damascus tradition with a VG-10 Core, the VG-10 Hammered Damascus...
  • Sometimes called a utility knife, the Petty is a smaller version of a chefs knife but is bigger than a Paring knife. The...
  • Proudly made in Japan. This knife is complimented with a premium Western Style Handle that extends to the full tang of...
  • The difference will be felt right away when a hand-forged Japanese Petty knife of incomparable sharpness is used for...

Yoshihiro is one of the famous Japanese knife brands, and if you're in search of a fantastic petty knife, this model might just be what you seek.

The Yoshihiro Japanese knife is a great choice for cooks of any level. Its weight and ease of use make it perfect for chopping or dicing vegetables, fruits, and even meat to varying thicknesses in record time. Not only does this Japanese knife cut quicker than an average blade can, but its durable and easy-to-use design makes it a great choice for both professionals and novice cooks.

The knife is forged and hammered with 16 layers of Damascus steel. The VG-10 Core provides a sturdy foundation while offering exceptional edge retention. In total, this petty knife is only 5.3" long, so it's an amazing knife for nimble hand movements.

This Japanese knife is equipped with a premium western-style handle that extends to the full tang of the knife (the blade metal is integrated in the handle). This gives the knife a familiar weight balance with a sturdy mahogany handle.

7. Shun Premier Nakiri Knife, 5.5" Tsuchime Finished Blade

Sale
Shun Premier Nakiri Knife, 5.5 Inch Tsuchime Finished Blade, Wood Handle, TDM0742, Walnut
  • Premier 5. 5-inch nakiri knife by shun
  • Featuring a thin blade perfect for cutting vegetables
  • Features layered damascus steel with a striking, hand-hammered finish (known as 'tsuchime' in japanese)
  • Hand-hammered finish reduces drag when cutting, keeping foods from sticking to the knife blade

Next up, we have another amazing knife made by Shun. This time, it's a traditional Japanese Nakiri knife, specially designed to cut through veggies with ease.

Nakiri knives resemble small cleavers, but they're actually not that good at cutting through meat. A Nakiri is designed for cutting vegetables, and it performs amazingly if you need to cut long produce (like cucumbers and carrots) lengthwise.

This Shun Nakiri is 5.5" long, and it features a thin blade that excels at precision cutting. The blade is made of layered Damascus steel, and the blade was hand-hammered to create a Tsuchime texture that doesn't let slices cling to the blade. This feature will make your food prep faster and easier.

The Pakkawood handle is a symmetrical oval shape, which makes it easy to use in either hand. The metal goes all the way through the hand (full composite tang), which makes the handle heavier and your cuts more precise. At the tip of the handle, Shun incorporated an embossed endcap that adds to the handle weight and makes the knife well-balanced and easy to use.

Final Thoughts

Japanese knives are expensive, but they’re worth the investment. In fact, many chefs and culinary experts consider them to be essential kitchen tools that will last a lifetime.

You want to get the most bang for your buck, so it’s worth investing some time into researching what type of knife best suits your needs before you buy one from Amazon or go to a store that specializes in them.

If you're still not sold on these wonderful blades, or if have any other questions about them, feel free to reach out! Our team of experts would love to help with anything from product selection to cooking advice!

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