How to Choose a Japanese Knife That Will Last a Lifetime

While almost everyone owns a kitchen knife, chances are many were too overwhelmed by the sheer variety available out there and simply chose one at random. To help you avoid that and to better explain the allure of Japanese knives, we’ve spoken with Yusuke Takahashi, the fourth-generation head of Takahashikusu, a knife manufacturer and distributor founded in Sakai, Osaka, over 100 years ago. The city of Sakai is one of Japan’s most famous knife-making regions, with their signature Sakai knives being used by 80% of professional Japanese chefs! If you want to know how to choose a kitchen knife that will last you a lifetime, then read on and follow his expert advice!

Supervising Editor
Yusuke Takahashi
Fourth-generation head of Takahashikusu

Located in Osaka Prefecture, Sakai is known as the “city of blades.” It’s also the home of Takahashikusu, a workshop that has been producing and selling Japanese and Western-style knives for 104 years. Currently in the hands of the fourth-generation head Yusuke Takahashi, Takahashikusu is renowned for the unparalleled sharpness and ease-of-use of their knives, which are the results of traditional Sakai knife crafting techniques passed down from generation to generation. They are the knives of choice for numerous professionals all over the world.

Takahashikusu website (English):

Takahashikusu: Keeping the Traditional Techniques of Sakai Knives Alive

How Long Does It Take to Make a Single Sakai Knife? What Makes it So Special?

Sakai knives differ from those made in other regions because each part of their manufacturing process, which can broadly be divided into three steps, is handled by a different, specialized craftsperson. A blacksmith will first craft the base of the blade known as the “ji.” After that, the “hatsuke” craftsperson will sharpen the knife to ensure it has a flawless cut. Finally, a third artisan will craft a handle for the blade. The blade and the handle are then fused together to get a single knife.

As for how long the process takes, it all depends on the type of knife and the craftspeople involved but, typically, a blacksmith takes a month to make the blade’s base, which then spends another month with the sharpener. So, by the time a handle can be attached to it, two months have already passed. As you can see, making just one Sakai knife is a big task requiring the work of numerous master craftspeople.

Why Are Sakai Knives So Sharp?

Sakai knives are so sharp due to two factors:
①They have a single edge.
②They’re made from carbon steel.

● Why a Single-Edged Knife Cuts So Well

As illustrated in the illustration above*, the angle of a single-edged blade is smaller than that of a double-edged knife, allowing for a significantly finer cut. While it’s possible to get a similarly acute angle on a double-edged knife, it can only be done with a sufficiently sturdy blade and expert sharpening skills.
* The angle on blades in real life is more obtuse.

● Why Steel Cuts So Well

Putting aside different kinds of steel such as blue and white, which will be discussed later, the general rule is that the more carbon steel has, the harder it becomes. Adding carbon to steel creates crystal grains called "carbide" within the metal, which help a kitchen knife latch onto ingredients, increasing its cutting power.

It’s no surprise then that the remarkable, unique quality of Sakai knives has caused demand for them to increase in recent years, not just in Japan but also abroad.

Takahashikusu always aims to produce Sakai knives with an exceptional edge that can be sharpened easily, so people can treasure them for as long as possible. It’s actually difficult to make a knife that’s both sharp and easy to sharpen, but they give it their all every day to achieve that goal.

What Knives Do Japanese People Use?

Before asking yourself what kind of knife is best for you, it might be helpful to take a look at the knife situation in a typical Japanese household.

People Polled: 798 (Women: 72.8%, Men: 26.2%, No Answer: 1%)

How Many Knives Do You Own?

Though the results were close, the survey showed that most Japanese people own at least two kitchen knives while those with just one cutting utensil are in the minority. Next, let’s take a look at what kind of knives they own!

What Kind of Knife Do You Own?

The most commonly owned knife in Japan is the popular “santoku” variety. Next is the “deba” knife, which is primarily used to prepare fish. It was quite surprising to learn that so many people owned one of those! Westerners might also find it surprising that more people own bread knives than “gyuto” chef’s knives, but bread is actually very popular in Japan. You can easily find many delicious bakeries all over the country.

What Is Your Main Knife Made From?

Considering how easy they are to use, it’s no surprise that most people use stainless steel knives. Some also opt for both steel and stainless steel utensils, using them for different tasks in the kitchen.

4 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Knife

1. Choose the Right Knife for the Right Task

Tip: If you want a great all-purpose knife, go with a santoku or gyuto.

As mentioned before, many people get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of knives available out there. To help with that, we’ll list all the main types of Japanese knives and their specialties to help you choose the right tool for the right job.

How to Choose a Knife That’s Best for You?

First and foremost, you should have a clear idea of what kind of things you want to cut. If you’re looking for an all-purpose knife, then you should go with the santoku. If you come from a Western country, then the popular gyuto may best suit your needs. If you’re dealing with fruit or small fish, opt for something with a shorter blade like a petty knife. Think carefully about what you want to cut first and then go from there!

What Is a Santoku Knife?

The santoku is a multipurpose, double-edged knife invented in Japan which combines the best parts of the gyuto and the "nakiri" vegetable knife. It’s great for cutting a wide range of ingredients, including meat, fish, and vegetables, and is the most common kind of knife found in Japanese households.

What Is a Gyuto Knife?

The gyuto is Japan’s version of the chef’s knife, arguably the most popular kind of knife in the West. Able to deal with a variety of ingredients, it’s fair to call it an all-purpose knife. It’s quite common in Italian and French restaurants in Japan, but is rarely found in typical Japanese households. If you’re thinking of getting one for yourself, please note that Japanese-made chef’s knives come in both single and double-edged versions.  

Should I Choose a Santoku or Gyuto Knife?

Reminiscent of a nakiri, a santoku has a straighter edge than a gyuto and is therefore suitable for “oshikiri” style cutting, where you push down and away from you. It can also be used to shred bulky vegetables like cabbage or easily slice through thick ingredients like daikon radish.

On the other hand, a gyuto knife is great for thinly slicing ingredients with a rocking slide, cutting towards you, thanks to the curve of its blade. The gyuto is also sharp enough to allow for more intricate and delicate food preparation.

Tip: If you can't decide between a santoku and gyuto, we recommend going with the gyuto!

A gyuto knife can be used for numerous cutting techniques and is perfect for a wide range of cuisines. Its 18-21 cm blade is easy to handle even for beginners and those with smaller hands. The narrow blade tip also makes the gyuto suitable for more delicate work, so if you’re in the market for only one knife, this is the one to get!

What Is a Petty Knife?

A shortened gyuto is known as a “petty knife,” which is ideal for delicate cooking and preparation such as peeling vegetables and fruit, removing potato sprouts, and slicing up cucumbers. As the petty knife’s blade is short and light, it’s easy to use for people with smaller hands or in limited spaces. This should definitely be your next purchase after an all-purpose knife. In addition, if you buy one with a longer blade, about 15 cm or more, you’ll be able to use a petty knife as your primary kitchen utensil. Many people find petty knives remarkably easy to use and have made them their household’s main knife.

What Is a Deba Knife?

Although it can be used for more delicate work like peeling or scraping, a deba knife is better suited for cutting through hard things like fish bones because of its thick, single-edged blade that makes it heftier than a santoku. If you think that fish bones are not that hard and can be cut with any knife, you’d be mistaken! Go to any Japanese fishmonger to look at the cut-off heads of their sea breams and you’ll see that they have extraordinarily thick bones that would make short work of a gyuto knife.

What Is a Yanagiba Knife?

A yanagiba knife is used for cutting the delicate flesh of fish for sushi or sashimi. Sashimi knives in the Kansai region (western Japan) generally have a sharp tip while chefs in the Kanto region (eastern Japan) prefer ones with squared tips known as “takohiki” knives. Sashimi cut with an insufficiently sharp knife has been scientifically proven to be less flavorful because blunt blades can damage the fish’s flesh on a cellular level. If you want to prepare delicious sushi and sashimi at home, then you definitely need a yanagiba knife in your arsenal.

2. Choose a Knife Material That Best Suits Your Needs

Tip: If you don't mind performing regular maintenance, choose steel. Otherwise, opt for stainless steel.

Characteristics of the Most Popular Knife Materials

Japanese knives are primarily made from either carbon steel (hereafter “steel”) or stainless steel. While a high carbon content does make steel blades sharper, the material does make the knives more vulnerable to rust from water and food residue. In contrast, stainless steel has undergone treatment to make it water-resistant. Many of the best stainless steel knives are made in the city of Seki and the Echizen area.

Does Sharpness Depend on the Material?

Although knives can be broadly divided into steel and stainless steel varieties, blades made from the same material can still differ greatly depending on the type of steel or its combinations. So, you can’t say for certain which material will hold its edge the longest. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but one way to find a great knife is to assume that the higher the price, the higher the quality and the longer your knife will remain sharp. So, if you’re looking for a knife that will last you the longest, you should probably go with the most expensive option within your budget.

*1. Some manufacturers also label it as “SK.”
*2. Manufacturers of Swedish steel also used to produce carbon steel. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to say whether the “Swedish steel” designation refers to carbon steel that is no longer in production or the currently-produced stainless steel. However, all Swedish steel knives at BECOS are of the stainless steel variety.
*3. Many manufacturers also label it as “AUS8” or “AUS6.”

Tip: In the image above, the types of steel near the top of the graph are harder and keep their edge longer. However, the harder the steel, the more difficult it is to sharpen it. When choosing which knife to buy, you must consider what you value more: edge retention or ease of maintenance.

Steel or Stainless Steel – Which Is Easier to Sharpen?

Most people sharpen knives using a whetstone, in which case the harder the knife, the more difficult it’s going to be to sharpen it. Generally, steel is said to be the softer material, making steel knives easier to maintain.

Stainless Steel or Steel – Which Is Better?

If you’re looking for sharpness and don’t mind doing a little maintenance, then you should go with a steel knife. If having to dry off a knife after washing it sounds like a lot of work to you, then you should probably go with stainless steel.

3. Things to Check When Searching for Your Dream Knife

In addition to ease-of-use, length and weight are things to watch out for in a knife. But how do you know when a knife is long or hefty enough? Here’s how to find your dream utensil that will serve you well for years to come.

Tip: A 165 – 180 mm knife is generally considered the easiest to use. Being easy to sharpen is another vital thing to consider when searching for your dream knife.

What’s the Ideal Length for a Knife?

To determine your ideal knife length, you first have to ask yourself “What do I want to cut?” Generally speaking, the most appropriate length for a santoku knife is 165 – 180 mm and 180 – 240 mm for a gyuto.

What About Weight?

While the weight of a knife is important, its center of gravity is paramount. A knife’s center of gravity will differ depending on the manufacturer so, if possible, you should go down to a store and hold the knife in your hand to see if its balance feels right to you. While that’s impossible to do when shopping online, the majority of knife manufacturers take this matter very seriously, so the likelihood of encountering a badly-balanced utensil is low. 

How to Make Sure Your Knife Lasts a Lifetime?

When a knife is particularly hard and difficult to sharpen, many people eventually stop bothering with maintenance and finally cease using it altogether. To avoid this, it’s vital to find out how easy it is to sharpen a knife that you’re interested in. It might be worth it to pay a little more for a quality knife that’s easy to maintain so that you can enjoy it for as long as possible.

4. Avoiding Degradation and Rust – The Importance of Handles and Bolsters

Because it’s something you use every day, a knife should be both durable and easy to clean, and we’re not just talking about the blade.

*Photo is for illustrative purposes only

Tip: Welded bolsters are best!

What Kind of Handle Material Is Best?

The most common type of handle material for gyuto knives is reinforced laminated wood. Besides being easy to use, it’s also highly resistant to deformation and discoloration. If you’re looking for something more stylish and hygienic, you could go with a stainless steel handle, though please note that they are more prone to getting slippery when wet than wooden handles. For Japanese knives, handles made from Japanese bigleaf magnolia offer the best quality for the best price.

What Should You Do to Avoid Rust?

There are two primary types of knife bolsters (the part where the blade meets the handle): the welded kind, and the kind where the blade is sandwiched between two parts of the bolster and riveted shut. However, with the latter, no matter how hard you try, there will always be a small gap in the connection, which can lead to rust. You don’t have that problem with welding. So, please consider the bolster carefully when choosing a knife.

Up Your Cooking Game by Finding Your New Favorite Knife!

Using everything that we’ve discussed so far, we’re going to introduce a number of knives personally evaluated and recommended by our editorial team.

Note: The following items are the personal recommendations of our editorial team. Yusuke Takahashi was not involved in the selection process.

3 Recommended Santoku Knives

A Unique Flair Like No Other!
This Knife Instantly Draws Your Attention With Its Beautiful Blade Wave Pattern!

[Echizen Uchi Hamono] Ryusen Bonten Unryu Wa Santoku Knife 175 mm
Source: BECOS

This trendy santoku knife features a blade with a layered pattern resembling clouds. Its core is made from high-class VG10 steel containing a mix of top-quality molybdenum and rare elements like cobalt and vanadium, making it a very durable knife that will hold its edge for a long time. This santoku is also very stylish and easy to use.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 175 mm

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▶ About BECOS

An Enduring Sharpness That Comes From Using Top-Tier Steel
Overflowing With Traditional Craftsmanship

[Echizen Uchi Hamono] Iwai Hamono Forged Kurouchi Santoku Knife (Aogami Super Steel) 170 mm
Source: BECOS

Each of these knives is individually handcrafted by an Echizen knife artisan. Because it’s made from blue steel-S, this exquisite blade boasts both a sharp edge and outstanding durability. The knife is also packed with extra flourishes showcasing the knifemaker’s attention to detail, like the beautiful octagonal handle that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand.

The knife’s hammered pattern isn’t just for show, as it also helps improve sharpness while making sure food doesn’t cling to the blade. You're guaranteed to instantly fall in love with it!

・Material: Steel
・Blade Length: 170 mm

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A Cut So Smooth, It Feels Like Magic!
Made From Powdered High-Speed Steel

[Seki Hamono] Ittosai-Kotetsu Powdered High Speed Steel Super Gold (SG2) Santoku Knife (Double-Edged) Oak Octagon Handle 180 mm (Made-to-Order: 2-3 Months Delivery)
Source: BECOS

Within the world of stainless steel blades, powdered high-speed steel is especially known for its ability to hold an edge. That’s the kind of high-quality material this santoku knife is made from. Compared to similar knives, it has a narrower tip, making it ideal for delicate, intricate cutting. Being light and easy to handle also makes it a great choice for those with smaller hands.

As the knife is made to order, it’ll take a little while before you can hold it in your hands. However, we guarantee that it’ll be worth the wait!

・Material: Powdered High-Speed Steel Super Gold (SG2)
・Blade Length: 180 mm

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4 Recommended Gyuto Knives

A Swedish Steel Knife That’ll Last a Lifetime!
This Multipurpose Gyuto Knife Features a 24 cm

[Sakai Uchi Hamono] Ittosai-Kotetsu INOX Swedish Steel Gyuto Knife (Double-Edged) Olive Wood Octagon Handle 240 mm
Source: BECOS

This kitchen knife was made over the course of 1-2 years by some of the most prominent artisans in all of Sakai, the capital of Japanese knifemaking. Since it’s manufactured from Swedish (stainless) steel, it is rust-resistant and a breeze to handle. Sharpening it is also easy, making it a great candidate for your forever knife.

Thanks to its versatility, this might just be the main knife that you’ve been searching for!

・Material: Swedish Steel (Stainless)
・Blade Length: 240 mm

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A Stainless Steel Knife Born From Echizen Uchi Hamono Forging Techniques
Beautiful, Easy-to-Use Knife That Will Last Decades

[Echizen Uchi Hamono] Ryusen Bonten Unryu Wa Gyuto Knife 210 mm
Source: BECOS

This gyuto not only has the renowned sharpness of Echizen knives, but is also easy to sharpen and maintain. It’s also absolutely beautiful, with its exceptional wave-like blade pattern and the dark brown natural wenge wood handle instantly drawing your attention.

Every one of these knives features a unique blade ripple pattern, which you only see with quality handmade products. This knife is especially recommended for those seeking a one-of-a-kind utensil that will stand the test of time.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 210 mm

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A Hassle-Free Stainless Steel Knife
The Perfect Size for Everyday Cooking

Misono 440 Gyuto No.811/18 cm

This gyuto knife uses 16 chrome stainless steel, which is impervious to rust, easy to sharpen, and boasts a very clean cut. Favored by professionals all over the world, its 180 mm blade is the ideal length for everyday kitchen tasks.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 180 mm

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4 Recommended Petty Knives

A Hand-Crafted Petty Knife Bursting With Character
This Exceptional Knife Makes Cooking More Fun!

[Echizen Uchi Hamono] Ryusen Bonten Unryu Wa Petty Knife 135 mm
Source: BECOS

Utilizing the techniques of Echizen knife forging, this simple yet handy petty knife is a great addition to your kitchen. The wave pattern on the blade is different with each knife, making it feel truly one-of-a-kind. There’s also a santoku and gyuto version of this knife, so why not get all three to complete the set?

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 135 mm

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▶ See Other Knives in the Bonten Unryu Series

A Sleek, Polished Design That Would Make the Perfect Gift!
Both Exceptional at Cutting and Easy to Sharpen

[Seki Hamono] Ittosai-Kotetsu Powdered High Speed Steel Super Gold (SG2) Petty Knife (Double-Edged) Oak Octagon Handle 150 mm (Order by Reservation: Delivery Time Approx. 1-2 Months)
Source: BECOS

This petty knife is made from powdered high-speed steel, giving it an exceptionally sharp edge. The blade has been sharpened to the absolute limit, leaving little to no resistance when cutting to prevent unwanted damage to the ingredients.

Coming in at 150 mm, this utensil is a little large for a petty knife and can thus be used for a wider range of tasks.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 150 mm

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A Classy Design That Gleams With Quality
The Definitive Easy-to-Use Petty Knife!

Satake Sangyo Petty Knife by Masamune Noshu 135 mm (With Bolster)

A product of Seki, Gifu Prefecture’s “city of blades,” this petty knife boasts a look and feel that far exceeds its reasonable price! It is the pinnacle of fine craftsmanship due to such details as its welded rust-resistant bolster and more!

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 135 mm

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Hand-Sharpened By Experts
This Petty Knife Can Handle the Challenges of Everyday Use

Masahiro MV Steel Honyaki Petty Knife (Double-Edged) 15 cm

This petty knife is made from proprietary stainless steel, which has been painstakingly hand-sharpened by master craftspeople, yielding an incredibly sharp blade. With a blade length of 150 mm, the knife’s versatile size is ideal for a wide variety of kitchen tasks. For those cooking in a limited space, it can also make a fantastic main knife.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 150 mm

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2 Recommended Deba Knives

Easy to Maintain and Resistant to Rust!
The Pinnacle of Sharpness and Beauty

[Sakai Hamono] MoV Honyaki Deba Knife 180 mm
Source: BECOS

This gorgeous deba knife is crafted using exceptionally hard stainless steel, putting it in a league of its own. If you value a sharp edge that’s resistant to rust, you can’t go wrong with this knife!

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 180 mm

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For Those Serious About Cooking!
This Genuine Deba Knife Will Hold Its Edge for Years to Come
[Echizen Uchi Hamono] Iwai Hamono Forged Fumon Deba Knife 180 mm
Source: BECOS

Made using white steel #1, this genuine deba knife boasts an exceptionally sharp edge and a sturdy, durable rosewood handle. Each piece is forged by a skilled traditional craftsperson, ensuring its excellent quality.

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2 Recommended Yanagiba Knives

Perfect for Sashimi and a Variety of Other Japanese Dishes
Created Through Specially-Designed Heating and Sharpening Processes

[Sakai Uchi Hamono] Ittosai-Kotetsu Kurouchi Top-Quality Honkasumi Yasuki White Steel #2 Sushi Knife (Single-Edge) Magnolia Octagon Handle 300 mm
Source: BECOS

Made by the top blacksmiths and craftspeople of Sakai, the Japanese mecca of bladesmithing, this top-tier knife is made using white steel #2, which boasts a perfect balance between sharpness and ease of sharpening. The handle is made from Japanese bigleaf magnolia, a water-resistant material that will help keep the knife in pristine condition for years to come.

・Material: Steel
・Blade Length: 270 mm

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A Second-To-None Quality Born From Top-Tier Stainless Steel!
Enjoy Delicious Sushi Every Day!

[Sakai Uchi Hamono] MoV Honyaki Sushi Knife (240 mm, 270 mm, 300 mm)
Source: BECOS

This yanagiba knife is a “honyaki” (single material) forge of molybdenum steel sharpened to perfection, making it easy to use and impervious to rust. With such a fantastic utensil, your homemade sushi will undoubtedly be the talk of the town!

Complementing the blade is a refined aura exuding the traditional character of its manufacturing company, first established 94 years ago. The octagonal magnolia handle fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, making you fall in love with this knife time and time again.

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 240 mm

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We Bought a Knife Using This Guide!
A Frank Report on Usability and More

Using Yusuke Takahashi’s advice outlined in this article, we bought a knife and put it to the test!

Review of the Ittosai-Kotetsu INOX Swedish Steel Gyuto Knife Bought Using This Guide

BECOS Journal Editor-in-Chief: Akatsu

An Incredible Cutting Power That Makes Cooking All the More Fun!

Being an amateur cook, I wanted to purchase a knife with a long blade to cut blocks of sashimi. However, I felt that a yanagiba was a little too much, so I instead opted for a gyuto knife based on Yusuke Takahashi’s advice.

Compared with my main 17 cm santoku knife, the extra blade length of this 18 cm gyuto allowed me to cut larger chunks of meat and fish with a single stroke. Plus, it weighed a lot less than I had originally thought!

I was surprised when I tried it on a piece of tuna! Up until now, I always had to use a little bit of force to cut the fish, causing its juices to ooze out. However, this knife glided effortlessly through the tuna with no effort!

Behold this magnificent cutting power! It felt as if the tomato was falling apart all by itself! The “springiness” of Swedish steel made it possible to get the knife’s edge razor thin, allowing for these kinds of cuts. I would say that over the course of my life, including the time I worked as a chef, I must have used over 10 knives and this one is without a doubt the best!

I Bought This Knife Using This Guide!
A Lifelong Treasure: Swedish Steel Multifunctional Gyuto Knife With a 24 cm Blade

[Sakai Uchi Hamono] Ittosai-Kotetsu INOX Swedish Steel Gyuto Knife (Double-Edged) Olive Wood Octagon Handle 240 mm

This knife was crafted by celebrated Sakai masters over the course of 1-2 years. Because it’s made from Swedish (stainless) steel, it’s rust-resistant, easy to handle, and a breeze to sharpen, so it will last you a lifetime. If you’re looking for your first proper kitchen knife, we strongly recommend this one!

・Material: Swedish Steel (Stainless Steel)
・Blade Length: 240 mm

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A Review of the Masahiro Petty Knife I Bought Using This Guide

BECOS Journal Editorial Department: Itakura

The Perfect Balance Between Quality and Price

I decided to purchase a Masahiro petty knife because it looked easy to use!

Made from rust-resistant stainless steel, this knife is ideal for people like me who can get a little lax about cleaning. Being smaller than my main santoku knife, it fits nicely in my hand and doesn’t take up much space on my kitchen counter. Its compact size also makes it easy to wash and dry!

I tried it out on a soft, delicate tomato. From the moment it touched the surface, I could feel its sharpness. With just a light pull, I cut the tomato into neat, thin slices without damaging it!

Many probably assume that a small petty knife, no matter how sharp, would be no match for things like a hard pumpkin. But you’d be surprised how little power it takes for the utensil to slice through anything! With such ease-of-use, I think I’ll start using it as my main knife! I wish I had gotten it years ago!

I Bought This Knife Using This Guide!
An Everyday Petty Knife Hand-Sharpened By Professionals

Masahiro MV Steel Honyaki Petty Knife (Double-Edged) 15 cm

Made with proprietary stainless steel, each individual knife is hand-sharpened by a master craftsperson, resulting in an exceptionally sharp edge. The 150 mm blade is suitable for a wide range of tasks, so if you have limited space in your kitchen but want to cook like a pro, this utensil will make for a great main knife!

・Material: Stainless Steel
・Blade Length: 150 mm

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The Work’s Not Over Once You’ve Selected a Knife!
Extending the Life of Your Knife After Purchase

Once you’ve found the perfect knife, you’ll want to perform regular maintenance on it so you can keep using it for years to come. We asked Yusuke Takahashi for tips on how to keep your knife sharp and clean.

How Does Sharpening Work?

Sharpening is essentially returning a dull blade back to its original form. Under a microscope, a blade looks like a saw, so by drawing it along a whetstone, you sharpen the teeth of said saw, improving the knife’s edge.

How Often Should You Sharpen a Knife?

While it depends on the material, those who use their knife every day should sharpen it roughly once every 2-3 weeks. If you feel it’s getting difficult to cut things like tomatoes or chicken skin, it’s a good indication that your edge is getting dull.

Which Is Better: A Knife Sharpener or Whetstone?

Tip: We recommend a #1000 medium whetstone!

What’s the Difference Between a Knife Sharpener and a Whetstone?

A simple sharpener only affects a small outer portion of the blade. It’s great for some quick and easy maintenance, but you really should properly sharpen your knife with a whetstone from time to time.

What Sort of Whetstone Is Recommended for a Beginner?

Using the traditional method, knife edges are first shaped by a rough whetstone, then adjusted with a medium-grade whetstone, and finally sharpened to perfection with a finishing whetstone. Having three whetstones at home would be a bit much, though, so beginners should start with just a medium-grade whetstone at first. The coarseness of the stone is indicated by its number, with around #1000 being your typical medium-grade. Once you’ve gotten used to it, you can also try using a whetstone with both medium-grade and finishing coarseness.

How to Choose the Perfect Chopping Board For Your New Knife

Tip: Choose a board made of wood or resin.

What Kind of Chopping Board Should You Choose?

Choosing a chopping board material that reduces the burden placed on the knife is vital. If you’re going with wood, ginkgo boards boast excellent water resistance and antibacterial properties. However, there are some drawbacks to wooden boards (sterilization, sun-drying, bleaching), so if you’d like something simpler, a resin chopping board is easy to use and great for cushioning your knife.

Answering All Your Questions About Kitchen Knives

Keep on reading to find out how to properly care for your knife and much more!

How Do I Prevent Rust?

Wash the knife with boiling water, allow the water to evaporate, then wipe it dry. If you have a steel knife, rub it with a little cooking oil as a final touch to protect it against rust.

Is It Okay to Put the Blade Over Fire?

Definitely not! If the blade gets scorched, the knife will no longer cut well. Excessive heat can cause genuine, tempered knives to forever lose their original sharpness.

Where Is the Best Place to Store a Knife?

In order to prevent rusting, knives should be stored in places with good air circulation and low humidity.

When Should I Replace a Knife?

Just like how heat has trouble penetrating to the middle of a steak when you cook it, even heat-treated blades may not be as strong and durable in the very center. So, it follows that there will eventually come a day when a knife loses its original sharpness, no matter how much you work it on a whetstone. When you feel that your knife is still blunt after sharpening, it’s time to buy a new one.

Are There Left-Handed and Right-Handed Double-Edged Knives?

Strictly speaking, yes. However, those who are simply looking for a knife for home use don’t have to worry about things like that.

Can I Put My in the Dishwasher?

Dishwashers will expose the knife to excess moisture and heat, so it’s best to avoid them.

What Is a Reasonable Price For a Knife?

For home use, you should pay around 7,000 – 8,000 yen for a quality knife. Professionals can get a reasonably high-quality knife for around 15,000 yen. However, as prices can differ depending on region, brand, and type of knife, please keep in mind that there will always be exceptions to this rule.

What To Be Aware of When Using a Good Knife

Tip: A good knife will make cooking fun and your dishes more flavorful!

What Are the Benefits of Using a Good Knife?

A good knife always makes cooking more enjoyable! After buying a good knife, many people often say things like “I never knew chopping onions could be so much fun” or “I love the way this cuts so well.” It just feels so nice to use a high-quality knife!

Is It True That a Good Knife Can Make Food Taste Better?

Yes! If you use a knife with a proper, sharp edge, then the ingredients’ cells won’t get damaged during cutting and spoil the flavor. You can definitely taste the difference between food cut with a low-quality and a high-quality knife. This is true of everything from meat to fish and even vegetables (especially carrots). Plus, a good knife won’t make your eyes sting as much when chopping onions!

Pick the Best Knife for You!

We hope that Yusuke Takahashi’s expert advice has helped you realize the value of using and taking care of a proper Japanese knife! A single high-quality blade that will last you a lifetime not only eliminates future waste, but also makes kitchen work more fun and helps food taste better, which will greatly improve your life. So, find a knife that you like, pick up some quality ingredients, and discover your passion for cooking!

Related articles:

▶ Japan’s Three Top Knife-Producing Areas and Their Incredible Knives

▶ 10 Top-Quality Japanese Knives That Can Be Sharpened to Your Tastes

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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