Knives are the foundation of any chef’s arsenal. If you’re going to cook anything at home, you’re going to need a good blade for slicing and dicing ingredients. There are two styles available: western knives, which are primarily manufactured in Germany and France, and Japanese knives, which are manufactured in Japan.
While Western-style knives are renowned for their durability and heft, Japanese knives are lauded for their razor-sharp edges, elegant precision, and lightweight. For hundreds of years, Japanese artisans have been refining blades, dating back to the time of the samurai, wielders of deadly-sharp swords.
Japanese knives are coveted for their intricate design and the precision with which they cut. Their blades are typically delicate and brittle and are prone to breaking if not properly maintained — not ideal for the clumsy chef. They enable thin, precise cuts and exquisite presentation, similar to those in a five-star sushi restaurant.
We’ve spent the last century testing kitchen essentials such as bread knives, chef’s knives, electric knives, and butcher knives. We evaluate each knife’s cutting ability and edge retention after chopping through a variety of foods, ranging from hard carrots to medium-firm cheeses known to stick, as well as delicate herbs like parsley that bruise easily.
We evaluate easily squish foods, such as ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and onions that are difficult to cut evenly with a dull knife. We also conduct tests on raw chicken and cooked meat, as your knife should be capable of performing all tasks. Along with performance, we consider the handle and grip’s comfort.
The Best Japanese Knives for every kitchen
A kitchen knife is an important part of any cooking area as it has the ability to handle a variety of tasks. Whether you are preparing vegetables, meat or fish, your kitchen knife should be a reliable and versatile one.
The following are our favorite best Japanese knives, as determined by testing and pro picks:
- G2 micro carbide powder steel
- Authentic thin Japanese blade profile
- 8 Inch
- Damascus stainless steel
- Patented PakkaWood handle
- 10.5 inch
- High Carbon White Steel #2
- D-Shaped handle
- 8 inch
- Cromova 18
- Hollow handle
- 8 Inch
- Molybdenum steel
- Pakka wood handle
- 8 Inch
- Hardened Japanese Carbon Stee
- Balanced Ergonomic Handle
- 6.5 Inches
- VG-10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Stainless Steel
- Western-Style Mahogany Handle
- 6-piece set
- VG-MAX steel
- D-shaped PakkaWood handle
- Stainless Steel
- Laminated wood handle
- 6 inch
- Vg10 67 Layers Damascus Steel
- G10 HANDLE DESIGN
|Best Overall Japanese Knives||Miyabi Chef's Knife 8-Inch||
|Runner-up Japanese Knives||Shun Cutlery Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife||
|Best Sushi Sashimi Chef Knife||Yoshihiro Shiroko High Carbon Steel Kasumi Yanagi Magnolia Handle||
|Best Value Japanese Knife||Global Model X Chef's Knife||
|Best Budget||Mac Knife Series Hollow Edge Chef's Knife||
|Sturdiest Japanese Knife Set||KUMA Professional Damascus Steel Knife and KUMA Chef's Knife Pro Bolster Edition||
|Best for cutting vegetables||Yoshihiro VG-10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Stainless Steel Nakiri Vegetable Knife||
|Best Japanese kitchen knife set||Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set||
|Best Left Handle knife||Masahiro Stainless Yanagiba 240mm||
|Best Petty Knife||Damascus Chef Knife Petty Hajegato Unique One Of Kind Handle Professional 6 Inch||
#1 - Best Overall Japanese Knives - Miyabi Chef's Knife 8-Inch
- Blade Length: 8 inches
- Blade Material: Stainless steel - G2 micro carbide powder steel
- Type of Knife: Gyuto
- Authentic thin Japanese blade profile
- Hand honed using the three step Honbazuke process to a 9.5 to 12 degree edge
- Handle length:5.39 inch
If you only need one type of kitchen knife, opt for a Gyuto. The Gyuto, or chef’s knife, is likely the first type of knife most cooks purchase, and stainless steel is more readily available (and easier on the wallet). Choose a stainless steel knife that is easy to maintain.
The Gyuto is Japan’s equivalent of the Western chef’s knife. It is an actual multi-purpose knife capable of performing a wide variety of tasks, is versatile in terms of cutting techniques, and is suitable for cutting the vast majority of meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits.
Numerous traditional Japanese knives are made of carbon steel, which retains its sharpness longer and is easier to maintain than stainless steel but can rust; however, look for a stainless steel knife for ease.
Not only is the Miyabi visually stunning with its Karelian birch handle intricately stamped with mosaic pins and an engraved endcap, but it is also razor-sharp. Miyabi blades are finished by hand sharpening and polishing in three stages to ensure maximum sharpness.
The blade is constructed with 101 layers of steel on top of a MicroCarbide steel core, resulting in a hard surface that retains its edge for an extended period. Additionally, the blade is attractive, as the hammered Damascus pattern adds a subtle elegance to the ergonomically designed kitchen workhorse.
MIYABI knives exemplify the ideal synthesis of machines and humans. Skilled artisans oversee each stage of their production. A MIYABI knife is created for 42 days and 130 production steps, and it is these artisans’ hands shape the iconic blades at each stage, from welding to honing.
As a result, you’ll have a knife that fits you like a glove, giving you more pleasure and precision in all of your culinary endeavors.
- Durable edge retention
- Attractive handle
- Pretty pricey
#2 - Runner-up Japanese Knives - Shun Cutlery Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife
In your hand, a good knife feels solid and sturdy. It promotes a secure grip and fits comfortably in your palm. It has an ideal weight that is light enough for vegetable slicing and heavy sufficient for meat slicing. All of these details are embodied in the Shun Classic 8-inch Chef Knife. It is made of PakkaWood and has a razor-sharp edge.
When it comes to Japanese-style cutting tools available in North America, Shun Classics are the original Shuns. With razor-sharp edges crafted from advanced steel, Shun Classic blades are lighter and easier to use. Classic Shun handles are lightweight and supple, rather than bulky and heavy like Western ones.
If you’re looking for a handcrafted knife for every kitchen task, Shun Classic has a wide variety of traditional and unique blade shapes to choose from.
Due to the blade’s size and width, it is ideal for preparing protein, fruits, vegetables, and various other foods. The blade is constructed using the Damascus layering technique and features 69 total layers – 68 of alternating steel and one of VG-proprietary MAX’s cores.
Additional chromium, carbon, tungsten, and cobalt are added to VG-MAX steel to increase its strength, durability, sharpness, and resistance to corrosion.
Shun knives are a harmonious fusion of ancient blade-making traditions and cutting-edge innovation, handcrafted in Japan by highly skilled specialists. Each knife’s craftsmanship and quality are a testament to Shun’s commitment to superior quality.
- It is comfortable to hold and simple to use, according to food professionals and consumers.
- Excellent at onion slicing and chopping
- Blade quickly lost its sharpness.
- Due to the blade's fine edge, it is unsuitable for cutting hard foods.
#3 - Best Sushi Sashimi Chef Knife - Yoshihiro Shiroko High Carbon Steel Kasumi Yanagi Magnolia Handle
If you’ve honed your knife sharpening skills and acquired a suitable cutting board, you’re ready to upgrade your knife and prepare delectable dishes for yourself and your friends. This incredible sushi knife will assist you in reaching a new level of sashimi and sushi preparation. Consider it the next step on your path from casual sushi enthusiast to the entry-level sushi chef.
The Yanagi is a long slicing knife used to make thin fish slices for sushi and sashimi. The elegance of its elegant thin blade is in its ability to slice through ingredients in long uninterrupted strokes while maintaining their integrity and freshness. The Yanagi is one of the most indispensable traditional Japanese knives and is a vital component of many chefs’ arsenals.
The knife features a 10.5-inch high carbon steel blade with a single edge and handcrafted magnolia D-shaped handles. Additionally, it includes an excellent sheath, knife oil, and a rust eraser for maintaining the Japanese steel blade.
We adore the perfect balance and epic sushi knife appearance of this knife. In general, it strikes the ideal balance of affordability, quality, and traditional styling. That being said, do not seek out this knife unless you possess the necessary skills for caring for and using a high-quality sushi knife. After only a few uses, amateurs will have a chipped, rusty, and previously incredible knife.
- It has a razor-sharp high-carbon blade
- The handle is highly robust and stable.
- A limited lifetime warranty backs it.
- Because the blade rusts easily, it must be hand washed and dried immediately after use.
#4 - Best Value Japanese Knife - Global Model X Chef's Knife
- Blade Length: 8 inches
- Blade Material: Cromova 18 Stainless Steel
- Hollow handle is filled with sand
- Ice tempered and hardened to Rockwell 56-58 degrees
- Comfortable slip-resistant grip
The Global Model X 8″ Chef’s Knife is the kitchen’s all-purpose workhorse, providing the ultimate in balance. Global knives’ two most innovative features are their edge and their balance. Any knife’s most distinguishing feature is its edge, and the Global advantage is truly its signature. The majority of Global knives, like Western-style knives, are sharpened or ground on both sides of the blade.
The wider blade is constructed from the finest stainless steel, Cromova 18 (Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium), developed exclusively for Global.
Sand is poured into the hollow handle to achieve the desired weight and balance for optimal control.
Ice-tempered and hardened to Rockwell 56-58 degrees, this steel maintains the blade’s razor-sharp edge longer than any other steel.
Improved ergonomics and a hygienic stainless steel handle with a signature dimple pattern provide a secure, comfortable grip. Pinch grip for incredible control, ideal for precise chopping.
- The blade is tempered with ice.
- Handle with dimples is hygienic.
- Stainless steel of exceptional quality
- Hardness Rockwell 56
- Hard to handle
#5 - Best Budget Japanese Knife - Mac Knife Series Hollow Edge Chef's Knife
- Blade Length: 8 inches
- Blade Material: Molybdenum high-carbon steel
- Type of Knife: Gyuto
- 2mm Blade, rust-resistant
- Original Molybdenum steel has better edge-retention
- Pakka wood handle
- Hand wash is recommended, not dishwasher safe
If you’re looking for an affordable priced Japanese knife that’s suitable for both right- and left-handed users, consider Mac Knife. Japanese artisans forged the Mac Hollow Edge Chef from high-carbon steel in Seki City, Japan.
The blades are rust-resistant and hand-ground, sharpened, and cooled by hand, resulting in razor-sharp blades that retain their edge for an extended period. Additionally, they are double-beveled, which makes them easier to sharpen.
The hollow edge provides an advantage over non-dimpled models. It reduces friction when cutting moist ingredients such as potatoes, resulting in a cleaner cut with less food sticking.
The handle is ergonomic, and the tapered blade is reminiscent of traditional Japanese Gyutos. The Mac Knife Hollow Edge Chef is a thin, lightweight, and affordable Japanese knife ideal for those looking for a workhorse.
Overall, this dimpled chef’s knife is ideal for slicing most vegetables and meats. Mac knives are known as some of the sharpest knives available. They feature razor-like edges for effortless slicing and are made of a rigid material that helps them stay sharper for longer.
One slice with MAC knives demonstrates a new definition of sharpness, is well balanced, and is an excellent value.
- Suitable for both righties and lefties
- Three sizes available
- Too lightweight for some tasks
#6 - Sturdiest Japanese Knife Set - KUMA Professional Damascus Steel Knife and KUMA Chef's Knife Pro Bolster Edition
- Blade Length: 8 inches
- Blade Material: Stainless Steel
- Durable solid steel core
- 67 layers of protective carbon steel.
- Tough, versatile and stain-resistant.
- Lightweight handle
The thin blade of the KUMA 8-inch Chef’s Knife is ideal for cutting vegetables and slicing through delicate cuts of meat. It is constructed of 67 layers of high carbon steel, which gives it strength and resistance to chipping.
The slightly beveled handle is solid and sturdy in hand. Additionally, it has a full tang (the blade runs the length of the handle) and is well balanced. KUMA knives are hand-finished to ensure that they arrive with razor-sharp edges.
This exquisitely crafted, professional-grade Damascus knife comes packaged in a sleek, custom box and includes a high-quality sheath/knife guard for easy kitchen storage. This stainless steel knife is the ultimate cooking tool for the professional chef and the home cook.
- Quality material
- Extremely sharp, so you need to store it carefully after use.
#7 - Best for cutting vegetables - Yoshihiro VG-10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Stainless Steel Nakiri Vegetable Knife
- Blade Length: 6.5 inches
- Blade Material: VG 10 steel/Damascus steel
- Type of Knife: Nakiri
- Elegant exterior with functionality
- Stain resistant
- Balanced and fit for comfort
As a lesser-known brand, Yoshihiro has made knives in Sakai, Japan, since the 14th century. They use techniques adapted from the Samurai Katana’s swordsmiths. The Yoshihiro Nakiri is made of 16 layers of VG-10 stainless steel forged and hammered into the Damascus pattern. Double beveled and flat, this Nakiri’s blade allows the entire edge to come into contact with the product you’re chopping.
If you frequently cook with plants, look for the rectangular, flat-edged Nakiri knife; it makes slicing vegetables a breeze. While the style of a knife may be unfamiliar, the mahogany-handled beauty features a full tang for maximum comfort. It is well-balanced and uses a push-pull motion to create thin cuts. Additionally, the blade’s hammered texture prevents food from sticking.
The Nakiri is a double bevel-edged knife with a thin blade profile that is widely used in Japan. Home cooks primarily use it for quickly and efficiently chopping, slicing, and mincing vegetables and fruits and has become a famous knife among vegetarians.
This knife is enhanced by a premium Western Style Handle that extends to the knife’s full tang and ergonomically fits the hand for effortless use. The blade’s hammered texture reduces friction and prevents food from sticking to the blade. Each Yoshihiro knife is handcrafted by master artisans, resulting in a one-of-a-kind work of art.
Japanese traditional knife making places a premium on a razor-sharp edge, which requires attention and care. Only water whetstones should be used for sharpening and honing. Hand wash and dry only if working with acidic ingredients, and do so immediately. Avoid using on bones, nutshells, and frozen foods.
- A blade that is razor-sharp
- Authentic Damascus steel
- Comfortable grip
- There is no blade cover
#8 - Best Japanese kitchen knife set - Shun Classic 6-piece Slim Knife Block Set
- Blade Length: Assorted
- Blade Material: VG-MAX steel
- Type of Knife: Block set
- Rockwell Hardness: 60-61; hand-sharpened Japanese double-bevel blade angle 16° (each side)
- D-shaped PakkaWood handle
- Hand wash with gentle dish soap and dry immediately
The term Shun refers to the moment when ingredients are at their most flavorful. Shun Cutlery is inspired by this Japanese tradition of eating food at its freshest—the artisans behind the brand create tools that honor the concept of seasonality and mindful eating.
Shun Classic knives are handcrafted in Seki, Japan, using the company’s proprietary VG-MAX steel. The blades contain additional carbon for strength, chromium for corrosion resistance, and tungsten to maintain a fine but sharp blade edge. Pakkawood handles provide a secure grip. Shun knives are both durable and attractive.
- More affordable than purchasing separately
- Lifetime free sharpening
- A secure grip
- Exquisite design
- Included storage
- May be include more than you need
#9 - Best Left Handle knife - Masahiro Stainless Yanagiba 240mm
Masahiro Co., Ltd. is a renowned kitchen knife manufacturer located in Seki, Japan. Among commercial kitchen knives designed specifically for butchering, many prefer the Masahiro due to its superior quality and reasonable price.
The series was recognized for its design excellence. Masahiro’s original stainless steel was used to craft the blade.
This knife is called a Yanagida, which translates literally as “willow leaf,” and is primarily used to slice raw fish for sashimi slices, which is why it is also referred to as a “sashimi knife.” Stainless steel is used for the blade, while matte black wood is used for the handle, which features two rivets.
The handle is made of compressed laminated wood that has been impregnated with resin and treated with an antimicrobial agent that is effective against bacteria such as Escherichia coli. You can use a variety of them for both home and professional cooking. This item is made for LEFT-handed persons.
The Yanagi is the sushi chef’s preferred fish knife, but many also use it for poultry and vegetables. The blade is sharpened to form a single bevel edge on one side, while the opposite side features a slightly concave flat grind for a more precise and uniform cutting edge.
- Very sharp, well balanced.
- It holds its edge well
- It makes clean sashimi cuts.
- Reasonable price
- Thinner than the traditional Yanagi
- It requires more effort to make the cut
#10 - Best Petty Knife - Damascus Chef Knife Petty Hajegato Unique One Of Kind Handle Professional 6 Inch
If you want to make a statement in a professional kitchen or impress your guests while cooking at home, you’ve made the right choice. This one-of-a-kind chef’s Petty Damascus knife features a variety of color combinations and a unique design, all of which are complemented by Damascus stainless steel curling pattern blades, without which no chef’s knife set is complete. Each knife is as unique and cool as you are.
With an ultra-sharp blade, even the most novice of cooks can achieve more precise cutting results. Hajegato is the only name you need to know when it comes to quality. There will never be two knives precisely alike because they are all handcrafted, which means there will be no mistakes in the kitchen.
Damascus steel with an ultra-sharp cutting core at 62+Rockwell hardness is used in the Hajegato chef knife. Strength, durability, and perfect balance are guaranteed by the use of premium high-carbon Damascus steel layers
G10 wood is used in the handle of the Hajegato Chef Knives to ensure minimal fatigue, finger numbness, or aches from prolonged use. The strength-to-size ratio is critical in applications requiring this material’s comfort and durability.
Hajegato 8 carbon stainless steel helps create beautiful patterns on knives. It maintains its sharpness for an extended period even after cutting through tough meat or fish, vegetables, or fruit with precision slicing. There is no tearing, squashing, shredding, or bruising of the herbs when using Hajegato knives.
- Beautiful design
- It's sturdy, amazingly sharp
- It makes fast work of a whole variety of foods
- Extremely well balanced
- It's too light
- It may be dulled after several uses
Best Japanese knives: What to Look for When Buying
A Japanese knife is an investment that will last a lifetime as long as you take care of it. All of the knives we review are beautifully crafted, and of the highest quality, so you can rest assured that any knife you choose is of the highest caliber, so you don’t have to worry about anything.
- Gyuto (Chef’s Knife): The go-to knife in most kitchens, a Gyuto can perform the majority of tasks. They are typically lighter, with thinner blades and a steeper angle than a Western chef’s knife.
- Santoku (Multipurpose Knife): This is the most common type of knife used by Western cooks. “Santoku” translates as “three virtues” or “three problems” and can be used for a variety of tasks such as slicing, dicing, and mincing. They are typically more compact than Gyutos and are ideal for individuals with small hands. It’s perfect for small, delicate tasks.
- Nakiri (Vegetable Knife): Nakiri translates as “cutting greens,” making it an obvious choice for precise vegetable cutting and julienning. The flat edge ensures a clean cut that is free of stray tomato skin. They are designed specifically for cutting vegetables, and they are pretty adept at it.
- Petty (Paring Knife): The petty is the smaller sibling of the Gyuto and is ideal for tasks that require a smaller blade, such as slicing garlic or hulling strawberry stems.
It can be perplexing when shopping for knives and confronted with the distinction between carbon and stainless steel. To begin, all knives contain carbon, as it is a component of the alloy in stainless, carbon, and other steel blades. It is frequently denoted by the term high, as in “high-carbon stainless steel.”
While carbon knives are steel knives, the addition of stainless steel extends their life. Carbon steel blades retain their sharp edges longer and are more durable than stainless steel blades, but they can corrode and rust.
By including stainless steel in the mix, you can avoid discoloration or rust due to the chromium in the alloy. Additionally, chromium imparts a silver sheen to blades, allowing them to maintain their beauty with minimal maintenance for an extended period.
Japanese blades require a little more attention than their Western counterparts, but it’s well worth it in the long run. As most edges are ice-hardened, they can be damaged by solid detergents or the spray from the dishwasher, so hand-washing is the best option.
Drying them immediately after cleaning is also critical. As a result, rust or water spots will not appear on them. Dishwasher handles are prone to cracking due to the high temperatures and high amounts of steam. And you want to preserve the beauty of the knives you’ve spent so much time and money on.
When it comes to sharpening, Japanese knives need a little extra attention. Japanese knives can be learned to be sharpened at home using whetstones, but you must be aware of the higher angle Japanese edge requires.
It takes time and effort to master. You should take advantage of the free sharpening offered by some brands and retailers. Sharpening your knives is a worthwhile investment, even if a shop does not offer free sharpening.
Storage is not an issue if you purchase a set, as the block is included.
If you choose to work with individual knives, you have a few choices. Sheaths protect some. However, if your blades are going into a drawer, an organizer may be a good idea to keep them from becoming disorganized. In-drawer organizers are available in various materials and sizes and provide secure storage space for your blades.
If you have the space, magnetic strips attached to a wall are an excellent option. They are available in various attractive materials that complement any kitchen design, and the convenience of having them close to your prep area cannot be overstated.
Best Japanese Knives - FAQs
Japanese knives are generally lighter, more balanced in hand, and made more complex, thinner, and better at holding an edge for a more extended period. This is precisely why they are so popular among professional chefs and ideal for the precise tasks chefs perform daily.
The Japanese have been renowned for producing the finest chisels, wood planes, saws, swords, and knives throughout history. Thinner, harder, and sharper are the critical characteristics of an excellent kitchen knife. A Japanese knife features thinner, sharper bevels made of more rigid steel that retains its edge for an extended period.
If your knife smushes a tomato, it is a good indication that it is time to sharpen, but avoid this at all costs. Regular maintenance ensures that your blades are ready for whatever task may present itself. When to sharpen knives is always a function of how frequently they are used.
If you cook daily, you’ll need to sharpen your knives more frequently, perhaps every few months. You can wait longer if you are a casual cook, but they should be pointed at least yearly.
Japanese knives are renowned for their sharpness and edge retention, which is attributed to harder steels and a smaller sharpening angle of approximately 15-16 percent, which results in an incredible cutting edge.
In your hand, a good knife feels solid and sturdy. It promotes a secure grip and fits comfortably in your palm. It has an ideal weight that is light enough for vegetable slicing and heavy sufficient for meat slicing. All of these details are embodied in the Shun Classic 8-inch Chef Knife.
If you want a razor-sharp knife that is also beautiful, Japanese knives are well worth the extra money. Japanese knives are unmatched in terms of beauty and sharpness.
With a razor-sharp edge and an attractive handle, the Miyabi Birchwood SG2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (view at Amazon) is a significant investment, but one that is well worth it if you want a Japanese knife that will last for years. If you’re in the market for a complete knife set, the Shun Classic 6-Piece Slim Knife Block Set is an excellent choice.
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