Japanese Chef Knives – Different Types and Top Picks

Japanese Chef Knives

Japanese chef knives are coveted amongst professionals and home enthusiasts alike for their extravagant design and detail.

Compared to their German counterparts, Japanese blades are thinner and lighter allowing you to weave and cut through your food with pinpoint precision.

The end result? Cutting finely and delicately through food enhances and preserves the ingredients, as well as accentuating the flavour of the dish.

Greater care must be taken as the blade is typically thinner and more brittle than a German blade.

What is the best Japanese knife?

The best knife in our opinion is in the eyes of the beholder. Ultimately it all comes down to personal preference – what feels right in your hand, and what exactly you will be using the knife for.

For chefs who are cutting all day long, 40 hours a week it is generally recommended to use a heavy-duty knife which has great edge retention. Yanagiba slicing knives are popular among Japanese chefs; they have a long, thin, "willowy" blade with the traditional Japanese single-bevel edge and hollow-ground back. It is designed to be pulled through the food, reducing the loss of the natural juices, and creating the cleanest cuts imaginable.

If you are a home cook, then it’s important to get a blade that is easy to sharpen.

Here are our top 3 picks for Japanese knives.

#1 Best Overall Japanese Knife

Shun Kai Classic Chef Knife 20cm

Shun Kai Classic Chef Knife 20cm
$327.95 $209.95

If there is one knife that you simply can’t be without, it’s this one. The Shun Classic Chef's Knife is an all-purpose blade ideal for a wide variety of cutting tasks.

The eight-inch length is perfect for preparing fruitsvegetablesproteins, and other foods. The wide blade keeps knuckles off the cutting board and is extra handy when transferring cut food from board to pan.

With its curved belly, the Chef's knife can be gently "rocked" through fresh herbs or spices to produce a very fine mince. Shun Classic's thinner blades makes it lighter and less tiring to use than comparable European-style Chef's knives.

#2 Best Value Japanese Knife

Tojiro DP3 Series Chef Knife 21cm

Tojiro DP3 Series Chef Knife 21cm
$159.95 $114.95

Highest quality steel that is hand polished for an impeccable finish

These entry-level DP3 knives feature a high carbon cobalt alloy core cutting-edge sandwiched between two layers of 13-chrome stainless steel.

Handles are made of extremely durable ECO wood (resin-impregnated woods), are well balanced and designed for comfort, and have forged bolsters.

#3 Longest-lasting Japanese Knife

Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD Chef Knife

Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD Chef Knife 20cm
$679.95 $384.95  

The 20 cm long GYUTOH from the MIYABI 5000MCD range is very impressive due to its relatively thin and yet stable blade with an authentic Japanese blade profile.

The cutting edge is honed symmetrically at an angle of 19° providing the dual-edged Honbazuke blade with incredible sharpness, enabling you to accomplish even the finest work with ease.

The core of the SG2 super steel is protected by a 100 layer stunning flower Damascus pattern.

The CRYODUR® blade undergoes a four-step ice-hardening process which maximizes the properties of the steel.

And to top it off, the stunning Birch handle features a striking mosaic pin, red spaces accents, and a steel end cap.

Different Types of Japanese Knives

Gyutou / Chef’s Knife

Gyuuto Chef Knife

Gyutou in Japanese which means ‘beef knife’, is the Japanese equivalent of a European chef’s knife.

They are versatile all-rounder kitchen knives that can be used for most tasks, albeit they don’t specialise in any specific task.  

See all Gyutou / Chef Knives

Santoku Knife

Miyabi 5000FCD Santoku Knife

The name Santoku is translated to ‘three virtues’ symbolises the characteristics of this knife – chopping, dicing, and mincing. A great all-purpose knife.

Compared to the Chef knife they are typically smaller, thinner, and lighter, may be more comfortable for people with smaller hands, and allows you to chop food with ease.

See all Santoku Knives

Sujihiki / Slicer Knife

Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD Sujihiki Knife

Sujihiki knives are the Japanese version of a slicing knife with a thinner blade and a sharper edge. Ideal for portioning and trimming raw and cooked meats and fish, as well as for making long slicing actions.

See all Sujihiki Knives

Paring Knives

Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD Paring Knife

A small knife with a plain edge blade, perfect for peeling fruits and vegetables or for small delicate work i.e. slicing a single garlic clove, de-veining a shrimp, cutting shapes into the dough and so forth.

They are very versatile knives and one of the most used knives in a chef’s kitchen.

See all Paring Knives

Boning Knife

 Shun Kai Michel Bras Boning Knife

Differing from a Western boning knife in its shape. It has a thick spine and durable blade with none of the ‘flex’ found in a Western boning knife.  It has a narrow blade and a sharp point and is designed for removing the bones of poultry, meat, fish.

See all Boning Knives

Nakiri / Vegetable Knife

Shun Kai Classic Nakiri Knife

Japanese styled knife used for chopping vegetables. It is distinguished by its straight blade edge.

This knife allows the user to cut all the way through with ease without the need for any horizontal push and pull.

See all Nakiri Knives

Yanagiba / Slicer Knife

Yanagiba Slicing Knife

Yanagiba has a long, thin, "willowy" blade with the traditional Japanese single-bevel edge and hollow-ground back. It is designed to be pulled through the food, reducing the loss of the natural juices, and creating the cleanest cuts imaginable.

The yanagiba is most often used for preparing sashimi, or sliced raw fish, and is excellent for slicing meats and other moist foods as well. Shun offers three sizes of yanagiba slicing knives. At 8 ¼ inches, this is the shortest one—ideal for slicing smaller roasts and medium-sized fish.

See all Yanagi Knives

Deba Knife / Butchery

Deba Knife

The Deb knife comes with a thick and heavy durable blade and is designed for cutting poultry, fish, and crustaceans which include shrimp, lobster, and crab.

The heel portion can be used for cutting through small bones and cartilage of poultry.

Shop all Deba Knives

Kiritsuke / Slicer Knife

Shun Kai Nagare Slicing Knife

The kiritsuke is used for all the tasks for which you'd use a chef's knife and offers top cutting performance and versatility.

It is ideal for slicing and push cuts. Julienne, dice, or brunoise vegetables with ease. It's also an excellent choice for cleaning and portioning boneless proteins, and particularly fish. It slices cooked proteins easily and gracefully.

See all Kiritsuke Knives

Pankiri / Bread Knife

Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD Brea Knife

Pankiri is designed and used for slicing bread and baked items.  The ridged teeth are designed specifically for this purpose and can cut through hard crusts as well as delicate items with smooth surfaces without crushing.

See all Bread Knives

Also Read: Kitchen Safety Rules 101 - Ways to Avoid Kitchen Hazards

Explore More Products: Tojiro DP3 Series Peeling Knife 7cm | Tojiro Hammered Chef Knife 24cm | Tojiro Hammered Paring Knife 13cm | Tojiro INOX Kitchen Shears

Back to blog