Best Japanese Knives On The Market 2021 Reviews

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Cooking involves knives – chop herbs, slice vegetables, and slice meat all with knives. It is very frustrating to have a knife that doesn’t cut in the kitchen. That’s its only function!

Knives of the highest quality must be made from quality metal and handcrafted to the highest degree. This is Japanese knives hallmark, and no nation is more renowned for it than Japan. Swords such as the Katana were wielded by Samurai warriors thousands of years ago. Knives such as the Yanagida are used by modern sashimi chefs.

Our review is dedicated to the most effective Japanese knives available. Our inventory consists of ten knives made by seven manufacturers. We are going to review some candidates to find the perfect Japanese knife for you.

Top 10 Best Japanese Knives Reviews

  1. Shun Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife
  2. Yoshihiro 8 inch Gyuto
  3. MAC 6 ½ inch Santoku
  4. Yoshihiro 7 inch Santoku
  5. Miyabi 10 inch Chef’s Knife
  6. Enso 10 inch Gyuto
  7. Global 8 inch Chef’s Knife
  8. Miyabi 6 inch Birchwood Chef’s Knife
  9. Dalstrong 7 inch Shogun Series Santoku
  10. Yoshihiro 10 ½ inch Sujihiki Knife

1. Shun Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife

Best Classic Japanese Knife

Shun Classic Chef’s Knife

An 8-inch Shun chef’s knife is first on our list. The word is derived from a Japanese word that means perfectly ripe fruit. Making knives perfectly suited for their intended use is their aim. Each Shun knife is handcrafted in Japan’s three knife capitals, including Seki city. After that, they are shipped throughout the world.

Cobalt, chromium, tungsten, and carbon are all contained in VG Max. Its strength is a combination of carbon and cobalt, while its sharpness is a combination of tungsten and chromium. Consequently, you obtain a knife with a sharp edge that won’t corrode over time.

A total of 34 layers of Damascus steel are installed on both sides of the blade. The blade is protected against corrosion and stress by this. It not only makes the product longer-lasting but also looks stylish.

A wood and resin composite, Pakkawood is made from wood and resin. As a result of its construction, it is resistant to water. Can you explain what that means for you? Those nasty kitchen microbes, such as bacteria and germs, will not find a home in your handle. Wooden handles of low quality can absorb water and lead to bacteria growth in your knife. Pakkawood handles avoid this problem.

Also, it is contoured to perfectly fit your hand. It has a D-shaped holder that allows your fingers to wrap around it. Because of this, it’s a right-handed knife, which may turn off left-handed people.

There is a complaint about chipping with this knife. Since the steel is VG-MAX, the blade is somewhat brittle. If you’re used to caring for your knives, it won’t be a problem, but if you want a knife that will survive the rough and tumble of a family kitchen, this is a drawback.

Pros
  • Beautiful Damascus finish.
  • Pakkawood handle.
  • Contoured fit.
  • VG-MAX steel.
Cons
  • Prone to chipping.

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2. Yoshihiro 8 inch Gyuto

Best Multipurpose Japanese Knife

Yoshihiro Gyuto

Following that will be an 8 inch Yoshihiro Gyuto knife. Yashihiro has been making handcrafted knives in Sakai city for more than a century. Globally, they expanded in 2008 and have a Los Angeles headquarters.

The Gyuto is the Japanese counterpart to the western chef’s knife. In keeping with the German style, its blade is continuously curved. As a multipurpose knife, the Gyuto slices, dices, minces, minces, chops, and disjoints.

Steel is everything in the knife world. Takefu Special Steels introduced VG-10 steel more than 60 years ago, and it is used in this knife. Is there a benefit to this? On the Rockwell steel hardness scale, VG-10 gets a hardness score of 60 HRC. Then it must be pretty difficult. Using hard steel can result in a blade edge that is sharper and lasts longer.

Steel is wrapped around the core 16 times with hammered Damascus. By hammering the Damascus, you can enhance the appearance of the structure and ensure food release. In this case, the pockets of air between the blade indents and the food act as a preventative measure.

There is a full tang to this knife. How does that apply to you, I hear you ask? Basically, it means that the blade steel extends to the end of the handle.

Due to its full tang, the knife is balanced. The blade also acquires more strength since it has a full fulcrum. This reason, however, requires that the handle be split into two pieces.

Speaking of the handle, it’s made from mahogany. Looks great, feels fantastic, and will last as long as it is properly cared for. Although, it definitely needs to be taken care of.

Pros
  • Hammered Damascus.
  • 60 HRC.
  • Mahogany handle.
Cons
  • Handle is delicate.

3. MAC 6 ½ inch Santoku

Best Fusion Japanese Knife

MAC Santoku

We have an offering from MAC in the form of a 6 12.4-inch Santoku knife. Both Shun and the company are located in Seki. Since 1964, they have produced and sold knives in the US and were the first Japanese knife makers to do so.

Santoku is a Sansei; the word means three virtues. Traditionally, this style of knife is used by Japanese chefs. It is shaped differently from the Gyuto and has a different level.

Made of MAC’s Superior Steel, the Superior Series knife is part of the series. Steel is tempered to a sub-zero temperature. When steel is heated to very low temperatures, it becomes more durable and wears and tear-resistant.

In MAC’s case, the blade design is their own. This is a fusion of eastern and western styles. The cutting edge has a V-shaped profile, and the bevel on the cutting edge is single, so take care if you are left-handed. An extra 15 degrees is sharpened on the cutting edge as well. The blades of most other non-Japanese knives are five degrees sharper.

MAC takes great pride in this aspect of its knives. Therefore, they not only sharpen the blade edges more accurately, but the spine is also narrower than those of most other blades. With only 2mm in thickness, this knife slides through food like butter.

Like most knives on this list, the tang determines how well the knife balances. An even balance toward the handle is a full tang. Take a look at the handle. Again, Pakkawood works well for easy cleanup and bacteria-free handle confidence.

It is MAC’s confidence in the quality of their knives that leads to them providing a 25-year warranty against manufacturing defects.

Pros
  • Sub-Zero tempered.
  • Fusion blade style.
  • Full tang.
  • Pakkawood handle.
Cons
  • Right-handed only.

4. Yoshihiro 7 inch Santoku

Best Handcrafted Japanese Knife

Yoshihiro Santoku

Keeping up with our knives series, our next option is our 7-inch stainless steel santoku knife, the Yoshihiro. The Yoshihiro company is located in Sakai city as mentioned. The manufacturer of 90 percent of Japan’s knives purchased by professionals is Sakai.

Santoku knives seem to be everywhere, so we should clarify what they are. In the mid-20th century, Japanese households began expanding their cooking repertoire as they sought to improve their diets. A modern version of the old Nakiri vegetable knife, the Santoku is also suitable for cuts of meat.

Warikomi is a process in which VG-10 steel is embedded between two stainless steel sides. Wow, Warikomi? The warikomi technique involves setting a piece of harder steel into a more malleable outer steel then combining the two to form a solid metal.

As a result of the VG-10 set in the middle, the edge can maintain a fine edge, while the stainless steel ensures external flexibility. Because it is made of plain stainless steel, this knife should be easier to maintain with a reduced risk of discoloration.

This blade is rated 60 on a Rockwell scale of HRC. Steel is graded according to Rockwell HRC hardness, which is the hardness scale most common in knives.

Having a score of 60 means the blade can hold razor-sharp edges well. Since its widest point has a 2mm thickness, this blade slices and dices easily.

In contrast to some of the manufacturers on the list, Yoshihiro isn’t biased towards left-handed construction. Both righted and lefties can use this knife easily thanks to the double-edged blade. An easy-to-care Pakkawood handle and balanced rear end enhances the performance. An ergonomic Western-style design that fits into your hand.

Pros
  • Double bevel edge.
  • 2mm thick.
  • Full tang.
Cons
  • None.

5. Miyabi 10 inch Chef’s Knife

Best Honbazuke Japanese Knife

Miyabi Chef’s Knife

The next item is a 10-inch chef knife from the Fusion Morimoto line from Miyabi. Miyabi is perfect for the word “fusion”. The company was created by German company Zwilling in 2004 when the company bought a factory in Japan’s knife city, Seki. Powered by German precision and Japanese perfection, Miyabi believes their products are the best.

This knife has been made using VG-10 super steel which has been ice-hardened. The MAC knife’s steel is hardened through cold tempering to form a more durable blade. As a result of the cold temperatures, the blade hardens as more carbon is absorbed.

After coating with 64 layers of Damascus and having been sharpened in Honbazuke, the knife is finished. This is a benefit, but why? Basically, Honbazuke refers to the time-honored, traditional three-step Japanese knife sharpening method.

Firstly, the blade is rough ground against a grinding stone that rotates vertically. Second, a horizontal stone will get a much finer turn. Last but not least, the blade is polished with a leather strop. Thus, you get a knife that has been painstakingly sharpened by hand. Also, it has an exceptionally sharp edge, approximately 9.5 to 12 degrees.

The handle of the Miyabi chef’s knife is made of POM. So what’s that about, then? Polyoxymethylene, or POM as it is more commonly known, is a durable plastic that is chemically resistant and waterproof. A POM handle should last for many years without deteriorating. Its waterproof nature prevents bacteria from getting inside. If you have chemical resistance, you can wash with soapy water.

Pros
  • Honbazuke sharpened edge.
  • Ice-Hardened steel.
  • POM handle.
  • Fusion design.
Cons
  • Maybe too long.

6. Enso 10 inch Gyuto

Best Tscuchime Japanese Knife

Enso Gyuto

In the next knife, Enso is involved. There’s a 10-inch Gyuto knife here. Knives by Enso have made their mark on the world since 1932, and this one is no exception. Gyuto is characterized by the western chef’s knife, given a Japanese style. The edge is similarly very sharp as if it were a katana. The 10 inches make this knife one of the longest on the list.

Well, we know what you are thinking; what makes the steel special? Basically, this knife is made with VG-10 steel, our old favorite. Heat treatment also allowed Enso to obtain a Rockwell score of 61.

Damascus is sandwiched between the two layers. It’s not only that, as the Damascus is Tsuchime, meaning hammered. Again, the hammering adds to the look, as well as provides an additional way to ensure slices won’t stick together.

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A traditional Japanese knife has only a single bevel, making it difficult for left-handed users to use. Because the Enso has a double bevel, it works perfectly with both right-handers and left-handers.

This Handle consists of a canvas substrate impregnated with epoxy and subjected to pressure and high temperatures. Micarta canvas appears rough but becomes grippy when damp.

Pros
  • Hammered (Tsuchime) finish.
  • Hard, sharp blade.
  • Double bevel edge.
Cons
  • On the long side.
  • Canvas Micarta handle.

7. Global 8 inch Chef’s Knife

Best Stamped Steel Japanese Knife

Global Chef’s Knife

A new 8-inch chef’s knife from Global has arrived. Even though Global is based in the third historically important knife region of Japan, it is the first non-traditional maker on our list. From 1985 to the present, Global has produced a line of unique modern Japanese knives.

Knives made from Cromova 18 steel create the illusion of being one-piece pieces. Their bodies consist of three parts – the blade, the handle, and the grip. The three are welded together using TIG welding. Welding the hollow handle pieces together first, and then adding the blade. Finally, the fine grain of sand is filled into the handle.

So what’s the bottom line here? Cromova 18 ice-tempered steel is between 56 and 58 degrees Rockwell in temperature. In the hollow handle of the blade, fine-grain sand is used to achieve the right balance. A dimpled handle is also present. The result is a more easily grippable surface.

We use stamped steel for this knife in comparison to our other knives. It is therefore cut from a larger piece of steel rather than forged individually.

It has a stainless steel handle and a one-piece welded style, which have several advantages. It looks like they made the knives super modern. More importantly, stainless is completely water-resistant, and it has no cracks or crevices to harbor bacteria.

Pros
  • Cool modern look.
  • Stamped steel blade.
  • Water-resistant.
Cons
  • Cool modern look, but maybe you prefer a traditional look?

8. Miyabi 6 inch Birchwood Chef’s Knife

Best Cryodur Japanese Knife

Miyabi Birchwood Chef’s Knife

The second knife of this series comes from Miyabi. I’ve got an 8-inch chef’s knife, and it’s really stunning. This is not a knife for the faint at heart, but a high-quality knife for those who appreciate quality. A micro carbide steel alloy and Karelian birchwood were assembled into this tool. Materials like these should not be messed with. It is made of steel, which is super hard, and birchwood, which is incredibly expensive.

With Miyabi’s patented Cryodur process, SG-2 is ice-hardened to Rockwell 63 using steel that normally is hard. Those are about the hardest knives you can find.

In this procedure, steel is first heated before being quenched to room temperature briefly. In response, the steel is exposed to -196 degrees Celsius, causing it to become extraordinarily hard. To complete the process, it is necessary to reheat the blade and resupply some flexibility. Steel is a compare-and-contrast activity, and SG-2 compares well. It is both hard as nails and rust-resistant. The difference is even greater than VG-10.

In common with several knives included on this list, the knife core is encased in Damascus steel. While all the other knives have only one layer, this one has 100 layers! Strengthened durability and toughness are provided by these materials.

There is 2mm of blade thickness on the heel. All Miyabis is Honbazuke honed to 9.5 – 12 degrees, as it is with all Honbazuke knives. That makes it among the sharpest knives on the market.

The handle is made from birchwood. There’s no ordinary birchwood here; it’s either Karelian or Masur birchwood. This wood has a distinctive grain pattern as a result of a hereditary trait found in certain trees. It is possible that the traditional Japanese D shape will not fit someone left-handed.

Pros
  • Strong, durable steel.
  • Full tang balance.
  • Birchwood handle.
Cons
  • Requires delicate care.

9. Dalstrong 7 inch Shogun Series Santoku

Best Heavy Duty Japanese Knife

Dalstrong Shogun Series Santoku

The knife on the left from the last is the best not made in Japan out of all the knives. Dalstrong is a company from China founded in 2012. The company has gone all out to capture the Japanese knives market. Having a 7-inch knife in Santoku style is a good idea.

Japan-made AUS-10v steel is used for the blade core. Due to its high carbon content, this steel is extremely hard and achieves a Rockwell index of 62. Similarly, this can provide hardness while also introducing brittleness.

The AUS-10v has been enriched with nickel, manganese, silicon, as well as vanadium to guard against this. As the vanadium content increases, so do the carbide bonds. As a result of the smaller bonds, the edge will remain sharper for longer.

As part of Dalstrong’s attempt to recreate the style of the shogun series, its blades are layered with Damascus. It gets 66 points in total, as usual providing extra protection for the blade core while preserving its beauty.

Furthermore, there are some hammered indents around the cutting edge. Likewise, these are designed to help releases slices of food.

The handle is made of G10 material deemed military-grade. An epoxy resin glass cloth laminate has been made with pressure and epoxy resin. This material is both strong and water-resistant, making it perfect for knife handles. A triple-riveted full tang blade is attached to the handle.

Customer service is Dalstrong’s major selling point. This is the only knife that comes with a sheaf, comes with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, and comes with a lifetime defect warranty. As a result, if absolutely anything doesn’t appeal to you, it’s no biggie.

Pros
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee.
  • Lifetime defect warranty.
  • Military-grade handle.
  • Triple-riveted blade.
Cons
  • Not made in Japan.

10. Yoshihiro 10 ½ inch Sujihiki Knife 

Best Japanese Knife for Sushi

Yoshihiro Sujihiki Knife

We have three Yoshihiro style designs on our list, but only one in the Sujihiki style. In Japanese the word sukihiki means “flesh cutter,” and that’s exactly what it is. With its long slender design, this knife glides through fish or meat more efficiently than other styles.

There is a ten-and-a-half-inch length to this knife. This knife is meant to slice whole fish for sushi, so it is the appropriate length. You will, however, probably not get the most out of the blade if you aren’t a sushi chef.

The blade of this knife is made of Inox AUS-8, a steel legendary for retaining a very sharp edge. Sushi can only be sliced this way without damaging the flesh.

It is also extremely rust-resistant. AUS-8 contains chromium at a higher than average level. A notable benefit of this metal is its ability to protect against corrosion. Another trick involves adding silicon. Adding silicon to steel increases its tensile strength. Due to the high levels in AUS-8, the blade remains strong even if it is long.

The handle of this full-tang knife is western-style. The material of Pakkawood is always easy to care for and bacteria-resistant.

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Pros
  • Best sushi knife.
  • Sujihiki style blade.
  • Rust resistant.
  • Pakkawood handle.
Cons
  • Very specialized use.
  • Requires regular sharpening.

Guide

Best Japanese Knives Guide

The question is, what are the best features to look for when purchasing a Japanese knife?

First, we consider the materials’ quality. A knife’s blade and handle are made of steel, and the handle is made of some kind of material. We’ll start with the steel…

Steel

A sharp knife is obviously what you want. Steel composition determines the sharpness of a blade. The edge will also hold well when it has a good grip.

Knives made of blade steel are compromises. The sharper a blade can likely get, the more brittle it will be. Even though you want a sharp blade, you do not want one that will break in half. Therein lies the importance of knowing the composition of the alloy. There are many different things on this list. contain slightly varying levels of key ingredients.

Carbon provides a blade with a longer-lasting edge because it holds an edge better. The downside is that it makes it more brittle and more likely to chip. Also, high carbon steel is more likely to discolor than low carbon steel.

Processing

As well as the process of creating and tempering the steel, several factors can influence its ability to maintain an edge. We have discussed several techniques, including cold tempering. Is there something special about this?

I’m ready for some technical talk. There are two modes in the structure of steel created during the steel production process. They are both soft and pliable, and one is hard and as a result brittle.

Martensite consists of austenite and respectively austenite. During tempering, the carbon bonds create more martensite and more austenite is transformed into martensite. By adding these bonds, the compound becomes more stable, lasting up to 60 percent longer.

Handle

Best Japanese Knives Handle

You should also handle the material well. Synthetics are best if you want to protect your knife. If, however, you are sure that the handle will be well taken care of, then you might enjoy using a real wood handle.

Tang

Other than the material of the handle, another feature is the tang. Different types of tangs produce different results. The blade-to-handle balance is based on the amount of tang, and the handle-to-blade balance is based on the amount of tang.

Furthermore, Tang will determine whether the handle has a split or is solid. It has to do with how the knife feels in your hand. It also affects the likelihood of wear and tear.

Length and Shape

Best Japanese Knives Length

Now let’s take a look at how the blade is shaped. Choosing a shape will depend on how you enjoy chopping. The curve needs to be greater if you like a rocking motion.

Perhaps we should also consider the length here. You need no more than six to eight inches of knife for home cooking according to most chefs. The longer it is, the more difficult it becomes to control, and unless it is required for specific techniques, the longer it is mostly wasted.

Looks

Let’s talk about looks last but not least. On this list, we have to say there are some really nice knives. How do you define your type?

The Stainless steel that’s smooth, sleek, and classy? Is Damascus dazzled? What is the difference between hammered and plain?

Know your Knives…

Whether you need more “knife knowledge” on styles, storage, or care, we are here to help!

So, check out our reviews of the Best Bob Kramer Knives by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, the Best Nakiri Knife, the Best Butcher Knives, the Best Calphalon Knives, our Kamikoto Knives review, and the Best Chef Knives Under $100 currently on the market.

You’re also going to need a high-quality knife sharpener. So, it may be worth checking out our in-depth reviews of the Best Knife Sharpeners, the Best Honing Steels, and the Best Electric Knife Sharpeners currently available.

You may also enjoy our reviews of the Best Cutting Boards for Meat or our article on the Best Wood for Cutting Boards.

So, what are the Best Japanese Knives?

Now comes the moment everyone has been anticipating. This is the winner of the list of Japanese knives…

Yoshihiro 7 inch Santoku

The first reason for this is that the product is made in Japan. The second reason is that it was designed by native Japanese. The two points above are quite important to us as we’re looking for an excellent Japanese knife.

It is built from the high-quality steel VG-10, which is renowned for its toughness, durability, and edge retention. With the handle made of Pakkawood, this is easy to maintain and safe. We conclude that the stainless steel has a pure, clean look that we think is classy.

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