Best Japanese Kitchen Knives

Japanese knives are some of the best kitchen knives in the world. The Japanese are known for their delicate knife work on food, especially when making sashimi and sushi. They are so particular about the preparation of food that they made their own kitchen knives to cater for their highly skilled filleting of fish. This is why all Japanese kitchen knives have that signature razor-like edge.

The Japanese chef knives are usually very precise in slicing and are able to make paper-thin cuts. Not everyone is suited to hold a Japanese knife though, because the blades are often thin and made of hard steel. If handled without care, they may break.

Japanese Kitchen Knives

Best Japanese Chef Knives

japanese kitchen knife
Shun Classic chef knife

I love Shun knives for their incredible beauty and amazing sharpness. The Shun Classic chef knife will never be the cheapest Japanese kitchen knife but it will be the sharpest knife in your drawer.

It is the best Japanese chef knife and one of the best Japanese chef knives made of hard VG-10 steel, which is a high carbon steel made and graded in Japan. The heft and edge combines for an easy drop and maneuver, so you can use it to cut thick slabs of meat or fish without fail.

If you fancy a more premium Japanese kitchen knife (read as expensive professional knife), go for the Shun Premier. At about $40 more than the Shun Classic, this gorgeous Damascus layered chef knife makes you capable of cuts you were never able to make (beautiful and even slices for everything from fruit to tough steak shoulder).

japanese chef knife
Shun Premier chef knife

On the other hand, if you love the Damascus design but budget doesn’t allow you to make that extravagant purchase, try this Yoshihiro Gyuto knife. A Gyuto knife is a Japanese chef knife. The Yoshihiro Gyuto knife gets you the best of both worlds, priced around the range of a Shun Classic, but comes in beautiful hammered layers of VG-10 steel.

japanese gyuto knife
Yoshihiro Gyuto knife

The full tang of the Yoshihiro Gyuto knife is bolstered in mahogany wood with a polished shine. I love that this Japanese chef knife comes in the less common 7-inch size as well as the standard 8-inch size.

I also love how the V-shaped beveled edge retains its sharpness and you can bet it is really sharp out of the box. For this chef knife I recommend using only sharpening stones or ceramic sharpeners instead of a sharpening steel for edge maintenance.

Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Sets

For me, the best Japanese kitchen knives set would be a whole set of Shun Classic knives, complete with all the necessary knives, shears, sharpening steel and a nice bamboo block. Although this is the best bargain ever (one Shun knife costs over $100 while this 7-piece set is priced below $500!) I know many would consider this a luxury purchase.

japanese knife set
Shun Classic 7-Piece Kitchen Knives Set

A budget-friendly set of Japanese kitchen knives that is of decent and commendable quality is the Ginsu Chikara knife set that I recommend to every college student who wanted to cook with Japanese knives.

This forged knives set is also great for anyone looking for a cheap kitchen knives set to start out in cooking, whether or not they prefer Japanese knives. For a cheap set of knives, the Ginsu Chikara knives have pretty good balance and enough heft to feel good in the hand.

japanese kitchen knives
Ginsu Chikara 8-Piece Kitchen Knives Set

These knives hold up pretty well as long as you remember to hone them and wipe them dry after each wash. They’re stainless steel so if left to drip dry there may be water marks that eventually lead to discoloration.

Best Japanese Utility Knife

The Japanese utility knife is known as a Santoku knife, and it is becoming more popular because of its better edge retention compared to the common utility knife. The Santoku knife is however, shaped differently from the common utility knife and requires a different cutting technique.

For a decent Santoku knife, there’s no need to pay a fortune. This Kershaw Santoku knife is light, handy and sharp, and the best thing is that it comes for less than $15. This Japanese knife is really good for quickly prepping the veggies and it’s easy to maneuver because of the 6.5-inch size, great grip and thin blade.

japanese santoku knife
Kershaw Pure Komachi 2 Santoku knife

I love that the paint (food grade) never come off and the hollow ground blade helps avoid sticking. It’s really easy to clean this knife and maintenance is simply a quick run through the sharpener.

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6 thoughts on “Best Japanese Kitchen Knives

  1. I love JApanese knives because they are extremely sharp and have a precise cut, especially with “squishy” vegetables like tomatoes. Once I tried my Japanese cooking teacher’s and was really impressed. It cut like sushi knives, without all the maintenance issues. Still, I am happy to use my all-purpose santoku – I love the ritual of sharpening it before use!

    1. Hi Deepak,
      Santoku knives are great for cutting vegetables but they’re not suitable for filleting fish for sushi. Although they may be sharp (because they are Japanese knives =) ) they are not long enough and not the right shape for the job.

      Sushi knives do need frequent honing to keep the edge, that’s what all sushi chefs religiously do after each use so that the fish slices are perfectly cut! If you keep a water stone handy, a couple swipes after using your Japanese knife will make it as sharp as new again.

  2. A really great and very informative post…I absolutely loved reading it. For me, Ginsu Chikara 8-Piece Kitchen Knives Set is the best value for money set. It looks and feels premium and works well. But that is just my personal choice….and that does not mean other items on this list are not good….they are also absolutely awesome.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this with us and please keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,

    1. Dear Ashaya,
      I absolutely recommend the Ginsu Chikara set as the best budget knife set. The knives in that set are just right for a home cook. On the downside though, this set is only made of stainless steel, so the blades require more frequent sharpening compared to high carbon steel knives like Shun knives which can be kept sharp by straightening the edges with a honing rod and only sharpening on a stone once a few months.

      Well, you’ve got to hold both the Ginsu knives and the Shun knives to know the difference. Once you’ve tried the Shun knives, it’s hard to go back to Ginsu. =)

  3. What an informative article I’ve read. I own and like Ginsu knives set very much. Their sharp cut makes class looks make the knives set more valuable.

    Thanks for your sharing on this.

  4. Have you tried Sakai Takayuki knives? It is a VG10 33 layer Damascus knife with a western handle. It looks incredibly similar to the Yoshihiro in the article. I have the 8 inch Gyuto and used daily for 6 months and it’s still razor sharp. As with all VG10 knives you need to know what your doing when sharpening but I would definitely rate the Sakai Takayuki up there as an affordable alternative to Shun.

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