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Best Japanese Knives

Japanese knives have been around for centuries and have a long history of fine craftsmanship. They have become very popular in our modern society, and for good reason. They are very sharp, with excellent cutting performance. They are fast becoming a staple in today’s kitchen.

Let’s find out about some of the most popular brands of Japanese knives on the market today.

Shun Premier 8″ Chef’s Knife with Custom Engraving

This Chef’s knife is made in Japan and has a premier eight inch blade. It has a beautifully layered Damascus steel blade with a hammered finish. It is super sharp and versatile – the perfect knife for cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing, and it looks great hanging on your knife rack. You can even get it custom engraved!

The hammered finish is not just pretty – it has a practical purpose, too. The uneven surface has hollows that keep food from sticking to the blade. This blade is made of 34 layers of stainless Damascus cladding on each side.

The engraving is done on the bolster. This is done with traditional rotary engraving, not just a black laser print. This engraving will not wear off. All you have to do is choose the symbol you prefer from the chart provided online. It will create a lasting heirloom.

The handle is very comfortable to hold in your hand. It has an effortless grip. The knife is also lightweight, which makes it easy to control.

This knife is dishwasher safe but it is best if you hand wash it instead, as with all good knives. This will keep your knife in top condition for a long time.

One drawback is it may be prone to chipping. Also, it is rather expensive.

Pros

  • Beautifully layered, eight inch Damascus steel blade with hammered finish
  • Super sharp and versatile – ideal for chopping, cutting, slicing, and dicing
  • Custom rotary engraving available, which will make this knife an heirloom
  • Blade surface has hollows to keep food from sticking
  • Knife is lightweight, which makes it easy to control
  • Handle is comfortable to hold, with effortless grip

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Blade may be prone to chipping

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Kessaku Santoku Knife – Samurai Series, 7-Inch

This affordable and attractive Japanese-designed Santoku knife has a seven inch blade that comes very sharp out of the box. The knife cuts meats accurately and smoothly, ‘like butter.’ It works for someone who has a tighter budget.

This knife has a blade made of high carbon tempered stainless steel, with a shiny finish. The blade has a Granton edge, meaning it has dimples and indents all the way along the blade, which stop food from sticking. The blade is also rust- and corrosion-resistant.

It is a full tang knife, which gives it superior strength, and it is very well balanced.

The blade is precision forged and razor sharp. It is sharpened by hand to an angle of 16 degrees on each side, which makes the blade edge very durable. This blade has a Rockwell hardness of 58 which adds to its strength and durability.

The pakka wood handle is strong and comfortable to hold. The ergonomic grip helps reduce any fatigue your hands might feel while cutting. The seamless build makes sure no debris or dirt collects on the knife. The handle is moisture-, heat-, and cold-resistant.

It has a plastic sheath for protection, and you can store this knife in the box included. The knife also comes with a Kessaku cleaning cloth to polish the blade.

This knife should not be washed in the dishwasher.

One drawback is some users have mentioned the blade tends to get dull over time.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Full tang for strength and balance
  • Super sharp seven inch blade is made of high carbon tempered stainless steel
  • Has dimples and indents along the blade to stop food from sticking
  • Rust- and corrosion-resistant
  • Ergonomic pakka wood handle is comfortable to hold and reduces fatigue

Cons

  • Blade gets dull over time

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KUMA Professional Damascus Chef Knife

This eight inch Japanese Chef knife has a thin blade and yet is super sturdy. It is perfect for slicing vegetables or delicate cuts of meat. It is made with 67 layers of high carbon steel, for the ultimate in strength, longevity, and chip-resistance.

The blade is put through eight engineering processes and finished by hand with a special sharpening technology. Because it is sharpened by hand, there is some variation of the blade angle between 15 and 20 degrees. You will be able to cut through roasts, other meats, and veggies like butter. This blade is stain- and corrosion-resistant.

This knife is full tang, which makes it extra strong, and it has good balance.

The slightly beveled handle feels sturdy in your hand. The handle is ergonomic, comfortable to hold, high quality, and lightweight.

The knife has a small bolster that is exquisitely designed and allows for smooth and thorough cutting. It comes with a high quality sheath for protection and also has a knife guard. And you can store this knife in its custom box.

It is easy to clean by washing by hand with a soapy cloth and drying immediately. Do not put this knife in the dishwasher as it may damage the steel over time.

Pros

  • Eight inch blade, thin yet super sturdy
  • Made with 67 layers of high carbon steel, for the ultimate in strength and longevity
  • Blade is made with eight engineering processes and hand sharpened
  • Cuts through roasts, other meats, and veggies like butter
  • Stain-, corrosion-, and chip-resistant
  • Ergonomic handle, high quality sheath for protection, and custom box for storage

Cons

  • None mentioned by users

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MAC MIGHTY Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8 Inch

This is a top notch, well balanced, quality knife. It has a thin, 2.5 mm blade that is great for cutting vegetables. This high carbon, aluminum alloy blade is lightweight and ultra-sharp. The blade has dimples along the edge which help it to easily slice through sticky food like potatoes and squash.

The blade is eight inches long and the knife itself is 12.6 inches in length.

This knife makes slices that are consistent and paper thin. The high quality of the blade helps you slice faster, and without hand or wrist fatigue. Because the knife is super sharp, you may want to purchase some cut resistant gloves for use with it.

The ergonomic handle is made of gorgeous pakka wood. It feels comfortable in your hand.

This knife should be hand washed – right away if you are working with citrus items – and dried immediately, to prevent rusting of the blade.

One drawback is the handle is not great for large hands. Also, it does not come with a sheath or other form of storage protection. Be careful when storing it so people do not cut their fingers on it.

Pros

  • Top notch, well balanced, quality knife
  • Thin, 2.5 mm blade is great for cutting vegetables
  • High carbon, aluminum alloy blade is lightweight and ultra-sharp
  • Makes consistent, paper thin slices
  • Ergonomic pakka wood handle fits well in your hand

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Handle is not great for large hands
  • Does not come with a sheath or other form of storage protection – be careful when storing

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Vos Ceramic Knife Set – 7 Piece Paring and Utility Knives

This affordable, seven piece knife set is a bit different from the others in this list in that they are ceramic. The blades are made of zirconium oxide. These types of blades are super sharp and maintain that sharpness for a very long time – 10 times longer than steel. They are great for making thin, precise slices.

The blades have a hardness rating of 8.5, compared to 4.5 for normal steel and 7.5 to eight for hardened steel.

The set includes three knives of different blade lengths (three inches, four inches, and six inches), with matching storage sheaths for each one, and a vegetable peeler. The sheaths come in handy so you won’t damage your fingers while reaching for one of these knives in your drawer.

The knives are very sharp, lightweight, and easy to hold, with a well-balanced and controlled grip. They make it easy to slice meat, boneless chicken, veggies, and fruits.

They are rust- and stain-proof, and easy to clean with some water. They do not accumulate odors, and they don’t pit or leave a metallic taste.

When you are done using and cleaning these knives, you can store them away in the beautiful, elegant box included.

One drawback is the knives are prone to breakage if dropped on the floor.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Seven piece ceramic knife set with rust- and stain-proof zirconium oxide blades
  • Blades are super sharp and maintain sharpness 10 times longer than steel
  • Blades have hardness of 8.5, more than normal steel or hardened steel
  • Easy to hold, with well-balanced and controlled grip
  • Includes beautiful, elegant storage box

Cons

  • Blades are prone to breakage if dropped

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Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife 7 Inch – Alpha-Royal Series

This Santoku knife is great for those who are new to Japanese knives. It has a gently curved blade, similar to American blades that rock back and forth. It is made of 67 layers of strong stainless steel. It has an attractive Damascus pattern that makes it unique.

The blade is razor sharp, with an edge varying from 12 to 15 degrees, and it maintains its sharp edge for a long time. It is hollow ground, which means it is non-stick. It is also stain- and rust-resistant.

This knife is well-balanced and full tang, and the handle is attached with three rivets, for extra stability and strength. It also has a satisfying heft.

The round handle is easy to hold and protects your hand and wrist from fatigue, regardless of how much cutting you have to do.

One drawback is the knife may be too heavy for some people. Also, the blade is more curved than a traditional Santoku knife, which some users might not like.

Pros

  • Well-balanced, full tang knife is extra strong and stable
  • Made of 67 layers of strong stainless steel with attractive Damascus pattern
  • Razor sharp blade, with edge angle varying from 12 to 15 degrees
  • Maintains sharpness for a very long time
  • Stain- and rust-resistant
  • Easy-grip handle is attached with three rivets

Cons

  • Knife may be too heavy for some people
  • Blade is more curved than a traditional Santoku knife, which some might not like

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Choosing a Japanese knife

Now that you have seen some of the most popular Japanese knives available on the market today, let’s find out what particular features to look for if you are searching for one of your own. Here are a few suggestions.

Sharpness and thinness of the blade

The two most important things to look for in a knife are its ability to cut things well, and for a long time before it needs resharpening. Japanese knives are great at doing both. In addition to being ultra-sharp for a long time, they can make thin, precise cuts for beautiful presentation.

Blades made or designed by the Japanese are incredibly hard, due to their high quality steel. The harder the material, the better and longer it will hold its shape. If it can hold its shape for a long time, the blade can be ground thinner, which makes it sharper.

There is one caveat to hard steel, though. The harder the steel, the more brittle it can be. This means if you handle the knife roughly, the blade could chip. Whatever you do, make sure not to use these knives on bones or frozen foods, as your knife could snap.

Blade material

While most knives on the market are made of stainless steel, it is not necessarily the superior material. Carbon steel is preferred by knife manufacturers that forge knives by hand. Carbon steel is harder than stainless steel, and it holds a sharper edge for much longer.

Handle

The handle is also important. Look for one that is ergonomic and comfortable to hold, yet sturdy. If the handle is attached to the blade with three rivets, that is ideal. Keep in mind most handles are made for right handed people. If you are left handed, consider choosing a handle that is oval-, octagononal-, or D-shaped.

Other features

There are other features to consider, such as how well balanced the knife is, and how aesthetically pleasing it is. Most Japanese knives are gorgeous, since they are often handcrafted.

Through comparing the most popular brands available today, and considering important features such as sharpness, thinness, blade material, handle, balance, and aesthetics, you are sure to find the Japanese knife that suits you best. Just remember to be careful as they are super sharp!

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