There are a limited number of meals that are cooked without the use of a knife. A knife is a chef’s lifetime companion in the kitchen. A Japanese knife is an indispensable kitchen tool.
A Japanese knife is worth investing in, especially if you spend more time in the kitchen. It is perfect for delicate cuts, but must not be used for frozen ingredients to avoid damaging the blade.
Japanese knives are renowned for their outstanding craftsmanship, premium quality, and exceptional cutting performance. They offer precision cuts without you applying pressure or force. Even an amateur can start chopping like a professional with the best Japanese knife in his or her hand.
Without further delay, we will be reviewing the different Japanese knife brands and the top 9 best Japanese knives.
Types of Japanese Knife Brands
There are tons of Japanese knife makers in Japan, and there are others outside Japan. The brands outside Japan make use of either Japanese craftsmen or materials or techniques in producing their blades. Every brand has a unique quality that differentiates their knives from others.
We will be looking at the major brands that manufacture Japanese knives both within and outside the shores of Japan. Here are the names of some top Japanese knives brands
They are located in one of the well-known cities for cutlery makers, Seki city. Shun is a Japanese word for something that delivers the best service or taste.
Kai corporation is the manufacturer of Shun cutlery. They are renowned for producing quality kitchen knives and blades with a history that has spanned for over a hundred years.
Dalstrong is a new brand that was founded in 2012. They combine both ancient crafts and modern technology in crafting out beautiful kitchen knives that stand out on every countertop. Dalstrong utilizes a Cryo tempering process in hardening the blades.
Dalstrong offers outstanding customer services and has a collection of beautiful knife designs such as Gladiator series, Shogun series, Infinity series, and Phantom series. They guarantee user satisfaction and has several free shipping facilities in the USA
Wusthof started manufacturing Japanese knives in 1814. It has been a family business for over 700 years and still counting. They operate in other countries such as Spain with a large collection of different types of Japanese knives such as classic ikon, classic series, Gourmet, and more.
Their unique forging techniques have led them to be among the best knife brands in the world.
This is one of the oldest brands in Japan that has stayed in the business for more than 7 centuries. They were known for making swords before they started making knives. Yoshihiro is a highly respected brand that utilizes quality materials in producing their blades.
They have a special formula for their blades. Yoshihiro cutlery has other factories in different countries with over 600 collections of knives.
In 1985, Yoshikin started designing and manufacturing Global knives. Komin Yamada of Yoshida Metal Industry was the first person to hand-finished and hand-polished knives for this brand. The Cromova steels are ice-hardened and tempered.
Global knives are sold in many countries. They have earned for themselves a solid reputation and have also won several awards.
Misono is also based in Seki city, just like Shun. Their knives are made out of Swedish high-carbon steel by skilled artisans. Misono creates most of their knives in western style with a mix of ancient Japanese qualities like thinner blades. They have successfully invaded the US and European markets due to their ability to craft user-friendly knives.
This brand has been in the market for over 150 years. They are highly recognized by home cooks and sushi chefs in Japan. Almost every Japanese home has a knife from this brand. They have a wide range of kitchen knives collections.
What To Look For When Buying A Japanese Knife
Knowing what to look for when buying a Japanese knife will save you ample time and help you make a better decision that will suit your budget, needs, and preference. There are certain features to look for before choosing a particular brand. Here are some of the features to consider when buying a Japanese knife.
How well does the blade retain its edge? You can only figure this out when you know the materials used, the tempering process, and the Rockwell hardness of the blade.
The sharpness of a knife is as important as every other part, such as the handle and steel. The hardness of a blade is measured in Rockwell. The higher the number, the harder the steel and less honing will be required.
Most Japanese knives have a hardness that range from 60 and above. Proper hardness enhances the steel and makes it resistant to cracking, pitting, chipping, and corrosion.
There are different types of steel used in making different types of knife blades. Ensure you choose steel with good quality. The materials utilized in constructing a Japanese knife include any of these or a combination of two materials. They are VG-MAX, VG-10, VG-2, high-carbon stainless steel, SUS410, AUS-10v, high-quality steel, Damascus steel, and pure stainless steel.
High-carbon stainless steel and premium quality steel require less honing and maintenance. They are sturdy and durable.
A Japanese knife typically has a strong, robust handle that is either full tang with riveted or half tang. Its handles are made from durable woods or composite materials. Ensure the material used in constructing the handle is non-slip, sturdy, lightweight, and durable. The handle should fit into the contour of your hands without pressure.
Some brands feature a pakkawood handle which is a mixture of synthetic resin and natural wood. And other Japanese knife brands utilize either stainless steel or polymer material in making their handles.
The length of most Japanese knives is shorter than a regular western knife because of the limited space in a Japanese kitchen. It has been designed that way for easy storage. The longer the knife, the more difficult it is to store, and the shorter the knife the less storage space it will require.
The ideal length of most Japanese knives ranges from 6 to 10 inches depending on the knife type, shape, and uses. It is advisable to choose a length suited for your personal preference, your kitchen storage space, and your need.
Japanese knives are shaped differently from the western or European knives. The straight blades are sharper, thinner, stronger, and harder. The harder the steel, the sharper the edge.
The flat shape blade assists the chefs in the chopping motion that they employ when cooking. It allows them to cut the foods precisely without drag and in one single motion. Most Japanese dishes consist more of poultry and fish than meat and require skills when handling the knife.
The final look of a Japanese knife determines its durability and performance. A hand-hammered finish such as Damascus rose finish, or tsuchime finish ensures the blade surface is non-sticky and offers a free release of foods. The fine satin finish also makes the knife easy to clean and maintain.
Review of Top 9 the Best Japanese Knives
#1. Best Nakiri Knife: Shun Premier Nakiri Knife
Shun Premier Nakiri Knife is one of the best Japanese knives for cutting vegetables on the market, with a tsuchime hand-hammered finish that creates a unique non-stick surface on the blade. The tsuchime finish helps to reduce drag when cutting your ingredients, adds beauty to the knife, and ensures a free release of food from the blade.
The handle features a pakkawood that is a mix of natural wood and a synthetic resin. It is non-slippery and offers a wide variety of secured grips, even with wet hands. The walnut pakkawood handle nestles into the curvature of your hand and allows you to hold for long periods without straining your arm.
The thin straight blade allows you to cut through large vegetables in a single motion. The thick bolster between the blade and handle offers safety to your fingers. The wide blade allows you to transfer the veggies from the cutting board to the pot.
The engraved end cap adds heft to the knife. This model comes with a limited lifetime warranty and requires cleaning with hands.
The blade is cladded with multiple stainless steel layers and a VG-MAX core for superior strength and resilience.
Ideal for all hand size
Require hand washing
#2. Best Wusthof Knife: Wusthof Santoku Knife
This 5-inch Santoku knife has indentations all over the edge that reduces friction and pushes the ingredients off the blade. Precision-forged from a single block of high-carbon stainless steel with a black polyoxymethylene handle.
The durable synthetic material used in designing the handle does not harbor moisture, resist discoloration, stain, and fading. The full bolster protects your fingers from slipping to the blade. The handle is full tang with triple rivets for stability and accurate control.
This German-made knife is constructed in Japanese style with a patented Ptec sharpening system for durability and accuracy.
This all-purpose knife is a perfect choice for a wide variety of kitchen tasks, including delicate and tough cuts. The black handle can fit into kitchen decor and ensures precise control when cutting. The straight hollow edge blade is slightly curved at the tip and is engineered to 58-degree hardness.
The blade is treated with a special precision edge technology that enhances its sharpness and retains the edge even after multiple usages. It is 20 times sharper than your regular knife. This santoku knife is easy to grip because of its lightweight.
Ptec sharpening system
#3. Best Santoku Knife: Shun Premier 5.5-inch Santoku Knife
Shun has a large collection of knives to accommodate every user’s preference. This model has a shorter length than the standard santoku knife. It is suitable for cooks with smaller hands and for medium-sized kitchen jobs such as slicing onions, cutting vegetables, and mincing delicate foods.
The tsuchime finish on the stainless steel enhances its performance and beautifies any kitchen top. The razor-sharp cutting edge ensures effortless cutting of ingredients. This option is backed against craftsmanship and material defects with free sharpening service each time the blade gets dull.
The pakkawood handle is resistant to stain, heat, moisture, and impact. It is full tang to offer balance and weight. The lightweight blade is razor-sharp and offers an excellent cutting experience to its users. The mirror polish design combined with tsuchime finish creates a unique rustic look on your countertop. It can withstand constant use. The heel bolster is embossed with a shun logo for beauty, balance, and safety.
This santoku knife is manufactured in Japan with 32 layers of high-carbon stainless steel. It is ergonomically designed to offer comfort and confidence. The handle does not cause discomfort when used for longer periods and prevents slipping from your hands.
Multiple layer construction
Ideal for only smaller hands
#4. Best Sushi Knife: Yoshihiro Sushi Sashimi Chef Knife
Yoshihiro is known for crafting swords way back to the 14th century before they started creating knives. The single bevel blade has a curved taper back with a flat rim. The blade is handcrafted by skilled artisans and honed to offer supreme cutting performance.
It slices through your sashimi or sushi with minimal damage and less friction. This product is well packaged in a convenient box and is an ideal gift item for all occasions.
The Rockwell hardness of this knife ranges from 62 to 63 which provides maximum edge retention and exceptional sharpness. This 9.5-inch knife glides through any size of fish without applying force. The pointed tip reaches the tight corners and offers precise cutting of food.
The D-shaped handle is made of Magnolia wood and does not harbor bacteria or moisture. The handle is lightweight and fits the contour of any hand size without causing finger fatigue. It comes with a protective wooden sheath that offers safety and aid storage. This product requires frequent oiling of the blade and must be hone with high-quality Japanese water stones to retain its sharp edge. Ensure to keep the blade dry when not in use to prevent rusting.
Easy to use
Requires extra care and maintenance
#5. Best Sashimi Knife: Global G-47 Sashimi Knife
The blade is constructed from a hard molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel that is resistant to stain, fading, corrosion and discoloration. This lightweight knife is face ground at an acute angle.
This Japanese style knife is different from the traditional European style slicer. It comes ultra-sharp from the box. The handle has a non-slip feel that makes the knife comfortable to hold for hours without wearing your hand or straining your wrist.
Global sashimi knives are inclined at 15 degrees. Thinner blades offer more precise cutting with less pressure. It features a lifetime warranty. Stainless Steel handle is hollow for a safe grip and built with the chef’s comfort in mind. Although the knife features no bolster, it still offers a secure, yet firm grip.
The sharp pointed tip glides through tight corners and provides a smooth clean cut of your ingredients. The blade is hardened and ice tempered to 56 -58 degrees hardness. It features a thinner blade with a sharper edge and sturdy balance.
This blade is constructed from a single piece of stainless steel without any joint. It is appropriate for all hand sizes. The handle is sanitary built to offer exceptional balance, weight, and safety.
Easy to maintain
Comfort to hold
No protective cover
#6. Best Japanese Chef Knife: Dalstrong Kiritsuke Chef Knife
This versatile chef knife is cladded with 66 layers of high-quality high-carbon stainless steel and AUS 10V cutting core for enhanced strength and hardness. The blade is treated using the traditional 3-step Honbazuke method and inclined to 8-12 degrees. It is hand-polished to a satin finish which creates a sleek design.
Nitrogen cooled for stain resistance, blade flexibility, and supreme control. The straight razor-sharp blade is slightly curved at the tip. The blade is resistant to stain, dulling, corrosion, discoloration, and fading. It is tempered to 62 + Rockwell hardness for maximum sharpness and strength.
The G-10 handle built with military-grade material offers longevity and ergonomic grip. It is impervious to impact, moisture, and heat. This product comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. The end cap is embossed with a Dalstrong logo for heft and balance.
The protective sheath allows you to cover the blade after each use to prevent it from rusting and aids storage. The Triple-riveted handle is full tang to the blade for durability, stability, and strength. This 8.5-inch chef knife is well balanced with a non-stick surface for easy release of food. Precisely tapered blade reduces friction and allows you to cut through ingredients like butter. The full bolster prevents your fingers from sliding to the blade.
Excellent edge retention
Requires frequent honing
#7. Best Japanese Knife Set: Nanfang Brothers Kitchen Damascus Knife Set
This Japanese kitchen knife set includes an 8-inch chef knife, an 8-inch slicing knife, an 8-inch bread knife, a 7-inch santoku knife, a 5.5-inch utility knife, 3.5-inch paring knife, kitchen scissors, knife sharpening rod, and knife block. It features a lifetime warranty and a refund guarantee.
Blades are designed with premium Japanese VG-10 core cutting steel with 67 layers of super Damascus steel, which enhances its durability and strength. It is engineered to 60 – 62 Rockwell hardness. You enjoy a seamless cutting experience with this knife set. This product comes with all the knives you need in preparing a complete meal. The knives serve different purposes. The knife block made with durable Beachwood securely store up the knives away from your children and keep them within your reach. It is suitable for any kitchen decor or countertop.
The sharpening steel allows you to hone your knife whenever you want. It helps you maintain the sharpness of the blades.
The kitchen shears allow you to cut through the tougher skin of meats. The curved shape handle provides confidence, stability, comfort, and support. It ensures you grip the knife with less discomfort. The blade is non-reactive to food and is sanitary built.
Easy to maintain
#8. Best Deba Knives: Misono Molybdenum Yo-Deba
This 6.4-inch knife is double bevel and suited for all hand sizes. It is a good gift item for your friends and family for all occasions. The handle is designed with a durable composite material that resists impact and heat. It is comfortable to hold for long periods even with wet or oily hands. The triple-riveted handle does not cause finger fatigue or strain your wrists or tire your arms after long use.
Yo-Deba knife is the western version of a typical Japanese Deba knife.
It is mostly used by butchers and hunters for chopping beef into smaller cuts. The bolster offers your finger safety, adds balance and weight to the knife. The blade extends into the handle with three rivets for stability and strength.
This product utilizes molybdenum steel that has a no stain propriety. It is inclined to 70:30 bevel. The wide blade allows you to transfer food from the board to your pot. It requires regular honing to maintain the razor-sharp edge of the blade. This high-carbon steel is easy to use, clean, and maintain. This knife is one of the best from the Misono collection. It is constructed with a combination of both ancient craftsmanship and advanced technology.
No heel bolster
#9. Best Japanese Kitchen Knife: Masamoto Japanese Cobalt Steel Fugu Sashimi Kitchen Knife
The last Japanese knife on this list is one of the top knives from the Masamoto collection. The thinner blade is sturdy, tougher, and sharper than most blades. The steel is formed with different elements such as vanadium and cobalt for optimum performance, exceptional edge retention, and sharpness. It resists rust, stain, fading, chipping, and cracking.
Constructed from a single piece of cobalt alloy steel by experts in the knife making industries. This kitchen knife is a must-have for every sashimi lover.
The handle is built with natural wood that does not hold up moisture. This single-bevel Japanese knife is used in cutting precise slices of Crudo, sashimi, and sushi. The blade is extremely sharp and retains its edge even after multiple uses. It requires minimal sharpening and less maintenance.
This product was designed with both traditional Japanese crafting methods and modern laser technology. It creates friction so food doesn’t stick to the blade. The ground sharp edge ensures a smooth, clean-cut, and the flat side allows you to separate the food slices. The handle stands the taste of time and offers aesthetic value to the knife.
Comfortable to grip
Not double bevel
FAQs About Japanese Knife
How do you prevent your Japanese knife from rusting?
To prevent your knife from rusting, wash the blade after each use and store in a cool, dry place or cover the blade with a sheath.
What is the difference between Japanese knives and German knives?
Both knives are built with steel, but they vary in texture. Japanese knife makers are after precision cutting, German knife makers are after versatility and durability.
Japanese knives contain more carbon that makes it hold up its razor-sharp edge for long. They are lightweight and comfortable to hold all day. Although the angle of German knives are less sharper and require frequent sharpening, the heavier blades make it easy to cut through larger and thicker ingredients.
What are the different types of Japanese knives and their uses?
There are various types of Japanese kitchen knives and each knife has a specific function. Here are the most common Japanese knife types and their functions.
Gyutou is similar to a European chef knife. It is a Japanese word for a chef knife. This an all-purpose knife that is suited for most kitchen tasks. The blades are sharper, harder, thinner, and lighter than most European knives. They have excellent edge retention and are easy to sharpen.
Santoku means a knife of three functions or purposes, which are cutting meat, dicing veggies, and mincing fishes. This Japanese knife has a flat-shaped blade with a longer length than a Gyutou knife. It allows you to chop your ingredients in an up and down motion rather than the rocking technique.
This Japanese kitchen knife is used for carving and filleting. It is a slicer and allows for a more smooth, clean cut. The blade edge is sharpened at a steeper blade angle for superior edge retention. The blade is harder and thinner.
Most Nakiri knives are double bevel with straight blades for cutting vegetables into thin shreds or slices. It is ideal for cutting through large and thick vegetables such as squash, potatoes, and pumpkin with so much ease
This is a butcher knife with a thicker spine for cutting large meats and fish. Yo-Deba has a well-balanced weight and is suitable for both hand users.
Every cook knows the value of a knife in the kitchen. A Japanese knife makes a big difference in your cutting skills and final meal. Preparing a delicious meal doesn’t only start by buying whole foodstuffs, but with using the right tools, which include a Japanese knife.