Japanese knives are in a class of their own in terms of quality and price. Japanese knives are the best knives in the world. A good Japanese knife can last you up to two lifetimes, it is that strong. Japanese knives are hand-sharpened daily with whetstones to keep their edge at an angle between 16°-17° on each side. The better the whetstones the sharper your knife gets, and it will stay sharp longer.
The Japanese knives can be categorized into two groups:
-Kasumi-Gami -Forge cladding construction with a different type of alloy on each side of the blade to get a hard cutting edge and a softer body.
-Gendai – Blades in modern construction with soft steel on both sides of the cutting edge which makes them easier to sharpen, but they will lose their sharpness faster than Kasumi blades.
The first thing is to know what you want to do with it…sharp edges slice through stuff better than dull ones and the thickness and weight (and sometimes flexibility) of the blade will affect what you can do with it. A thinner, lighter knife with a razor-sharp edge is going to be better suited to filleting fish, for example.
Sharpness: How well a knife stays sharp and how easily it gets dull are very important features – cheaper knives tend to need “sharpening” more often while high-end knives hold a fine edge
Material: The best metal for a knife is something that will take and hold an edge well, resist rusting and reacting with food, be tough enough to stand up to repeated hard use, and be easy to reshape when it does get dull. In Japan, this means carbon steel, and the top knives are made from a laminate of softer iron for flexibility with a thin, hard carbon steel exterior.
Weight: Good Japanese knives should be well-balanced to feel nimble in use – solid at the handle end but not too heavy towards the tip where lighter weight makes it easier to cut around bones. They should feel comfortable in use over time, well-balanced, and just the right weight.
Flexibility: Yokote (the point where the blade meets the handle) should be thin, fine, and well-tapered – if it’s thick or clumsy then you can’t move it precisely enough to fillet fish for example. The shape of the blade is important too, with a slightly curved belly that allows you to rock gently when using the knife.
Serrated Edges: Some of the best Japanese knives feature serrated edges at the base of the blade – these saw through hard material like crusty bread or thick bone without needing to apply much additional pressure and keep their sharp edge for a long time.
Handle: Bone, wood, or rubber used to be the norm for Japanese knives but now handle materials can be mixed and matched across different blades – good handles are well shaped (no straight edges poking into your palm), easy to clean, and keep clean (not excessively absorbent) and stay cool under pressure.
Here’s our list of top Japanese knives currently available.
Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Shun is a division of Kai Corporation. They are one of the best manufacturers of kitchen knives in Japan, and their products are pretty much legendary for high quality and sharpness. Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is one of the best Japanese knives, and it is an ideal choice for anyone looking to buy their first Japanese kitchen knife.
The blade length of this product is eight (8) inches, with overall measurements of 14-1/2 by 3-1/2 by 1-7/8 inches. It has a serrated edge that makes cutting through tough stuff like crusty bread, thick bones etc. easy and effortless.
This Japanese knife is made with Classic design that gives it a simple yet elegant look. The blade material of this product is made of VG-10 steel which is composed of carbon, chromium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, and vanadium. The latter is the only element that gets in touch with your food, but it makes up for that flaw by being extremely resistant to corrosion and rusting.
It has a full tang design which promises durability and easy maintenance. In addition, there is a dimpled bolster that you can use as an anchor while sharpening or honing the blade.
Shun DM0706 has a hollow handle which is one of the most comfortable to use in this price range, and it also provides lightweight construction.
In short, Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is affordable, sharp, and durable. It may not have all the features that expensive knives have, but it will get the job done.
● Affordable price
● Great for everyday use and also a good choice as a gift item
● Very sharp
● A versatile blade allows you to do a wide range of cutting tasks with ease
● The handle is made out of Micarta which can get slippery when wet
Global Knives Cooks Knife 20 cm
Global Knives Cooks Knife 20 cm is considered one of the best Japanese knives for professional cooks. It features a hollow handle, and it is made out of stainless steel with 16 layers on each side.
The blade material is made of high-carbon stainless steel so you won’t have to worry about rust or corrosion. The handle design allows for easy, slip-free use – it has a hole in the middle and two dimples on each side to make it non-slip.
In terms of sharpness, this knife is second only to Masamoto VG. It’s made from one single piece of stainless steel which ensures durability and easy sharpening. In addition, the blade doesn’t rust, corrode, stain, chip, or bend easily.
In short Global Knives, Cooks Knife 20 cm is a great choice for a number of reasons: it’s affordable, very sharp, and durable. However there are a couple of minor issues that have to do with product design – the handle could be more comfortable and it doesn’t have a full tang blade.
● Extremely sharp, second only to Masamoto VG.
● Cuts through tough meat easily and effortless
● Stainless steel blade makes it easy to maintain and clean
● Made from one single piece of stainless steel which ensures durability and easy sharpening
● The handle is made out of hollow material which can be slippery when wet
● A bit expensive
MIYABI 8″ Birchwood Chef’s/Gyutoh Knife
MIYABI 8″ Birchwood Chef’s/Gyutoh Knife – 5000MCD-B is another high-end knife that is made out of stainless steel and has a hollow handle that makes it very easy to use and maintain. The blade is 8 inches long, which is quite standard.
The handle is made of Birchwood, which makes it more comfortable to hold, but it’s also really easy to clean and maintain. It’s non-slippery thanks to its dimpled design (there are no ridges or grooves on the sides).
This knife will come in handy if you like to do precision cutting. It’s excellent for slicing, dicing, mincing, or chopping vegetables.
In short, Miyabi 8″ Birchwood Chef’s/Gyutoh Knife 5000MCD-B is sharp, lightweight, and comfortable to use thanks to its handle design – it can’t get much better than that!
● Lightweight yet very durable
● Extremely sharp blade (comes with a factory edge)
● Easy to clean and maintain since the handle is made of Birchwood
● A bit expensive
KUMA Professional Damascus Steel 8-inch Chef Knife
KUMA Professional Damascus Steel 8-inch Chef Knife is a traditional Japanese knife, made out of Damascus steel and featuring a wooden handle. Kuma comes in 4 different sizes – 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″.
This knife is the traditional Japanese design, with a solid wood handle that feels comfortable in your hand. It comes pre-sharpened but it doesn’t have a full tang blade which means that you cannot use it to cut heavy-duty items such as bones or frozen food – two things that all good chef’s knives should be able to handle.
In short, KUMA Professional Damascus Steel 8-inch Chef Knife is a great choice if you want something lightweight and sharp. It’s the traditional Japanese design that will come in handy when slicing meat or vegetables.
● Single piece Damascus steel built
● Durable, corrosion-resistant, and strong
● Lightweight as compared to Western knives.
● Modern design that is comfortable to use
● The absence of a full tang blade – doesn’t allow to cut bones or frozen food
● The handle isn’t comfortable
Shun Premier 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (Silver)
Shun Premier 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (Silver) is another Japanese knife that is made out of stainless steel. It’s got a beautiful modern design thanks to its silver-grey color and octagon-shaped handle. The blade is 8 inches long, which is more than enough for most home cooks.
The one thing that makes this knife stand out from the competition is its handle. It has an octagon shape, which means it’s very comfortable to hold and use – there are no ridges or grooves for your fingers. The handle also features a notch on each side so you can easily pick the knife up from the cutting board.
Shun Premier 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (Silver) is not so expensive, but it’s still more than what most Western knives cost.
● Lightweight yet strong stainless steel
● Octagon shaped handle for added comfort when in use
● Modern design that looks attractive on any kitchen countertop
● Not full tang blade – not suitable to cut frozen food or bones
● No finger grooves – uncomfortable to hold the handle
On a concluding note, all the knives reviewed above are great choices depending on your needs and preferences. If you’re not into traditional Japanese design, then we recommend KUMA or Shun Premier 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (Silver) – both modern and affordable. On the other hand, if you prefer something more traditional and authentic, then Miyabi will be a perfect choice.