Seki City has been the heart of the Japanese cutlery industry. Here in this Japanese kitchen knives guide you see Japanese kitchen knives types and their uses and how Japanese kitchen knives are different from western types.

Japanese kitchen knives come in many different varieties and they are used for different purposes. They are made from different steel as they used to make Japanese swords.

TYPES OF JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES-JAPANESE KNIFE TYPES

DEBA

 JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES

What is deba knife: Deba is a single beveled knife japanese kitchen knife with a thicker spine used for fish butcher and meat butchery and it has a lot of weight. Due to heavy weight it can crack through some of the bones.

Deba are traditional knives, their blades are thick and heavy duty. They are designed for butchering fish, filming and cartilage fish and are also great for bone cutting. Deba knives come in different sizes, depending on the size of fish or animal. designed for cutting and filleting the fish.

Deba knives are used for fillet whole fish. chopping through cartilage, bones, and chitin. Smaller the size of the knife more easy to handle.

Generally Deba knives are 120-210mm long and up to 9mm thick. Deba knives come in several varities and sizes.

  • Hon-deba : These Hon-deba are true deba, these are thickest and the heaviest version of deba. Hon-deba are typically available in blade lengths between 150mm and 330mm, with the 180mm size generally recommended for home cooks, and the larger size Deba recommended for professionals.
  • Ko-deba : Ko-deba is a small Deba that is commonly used in coastal areas of Japan to fillet and butterfly small saltwater fish. alternative name of Aji-deba, or Aji-kiri. Ko-deba are most commonly available in blade lengths of around 100mm to 120mm.
  • Kanisaki-deba : is a special deba, used for cutting crabs and in particular lobsters, 
  • Yo-deba : is a deba with a European handle. Yo-Deba are double-bevel variants of the traditional Deba.
  • Miroshi-deba : These Miroshi-deba knives are intermediate in thickness, weight, and length of deba and yanagiba knives. They are used in filleting fish.

Deba are traditional large single bevel Japanese kitchen knives. Their blade are thick and a lot of weight.  They are used for fish butchery, filleting and can also be used on poultry.  Their size varies depending on the size of the fish or animal that is broken down.

GYUTO

 JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES

Gyuto originally was designed for cutting large slices of beef. They can be used for all purpose kitchen knives. These are made up of harder varieties of steel to hold a better edge and better quality than European style. The word gyuto knife meaning in Japanese “beef knife”.

Gyutou is a Japanese version of a Western style kitchen knife (chef’s knife). Gyuto knives were originally designed for cutting larger pieces of beef, which literally means “a cow sword”. This is also a multi-purpose knife.

Gyuto knives are also a multi-purpose knife that can be used for chopping meat or vegetables as well as cutting fish. 

These gyutou knives are thinner blades than European knives on the edge and spine of the blade. Gyuto knives as compared to European knives, Japanese gyutou knives blades are thinner along the spine and as well as the spine and are made from harder varieties of steel, which can hold a better edge and stay sharp longer. Yoshihiro gyuto chef’s knife 8 is best variant.

Gyuto knives range between 150mm-390 mm and thickness of the blade is regularly between 1.5-5mm and size from 7”-10”.

NAKIRI

 JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES

Nakiris are double bevel rectangular thin blade knives designed specifically for working with vegetables. Nakiri knives are the best tool for the job for several reasons, and the Japanese have known this for a long time.

Nakiri are mainly used in chopping, slicing, and mincing vegetables, fruits, also great in cutting the harder veggies like pumpkins and squash quickly and efficiently that’s a good vegetable knife but when chopping comes to boring & irritating, when it’s hard to cut veggies in a single chop that’s part drop your interest in chopping veggie, choose the right Nakiri knife that continue your interest in chopping vegetable and discover new recipes. With Nakiri it is easy to cut harder veggies

These Nakiri knives are mostly used for cutting vegetables. t Rectangular shape of the knife and lightweight make it feel more secure as compared to santoku or gyuto. Nakiri’s general size ranges from 165 mm to 180 mm and 5 to 7 inches) long.

KIRITSUKE

 JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES

What is a Kiritsuke Knife : Kiritsuke knife are traditionally used by executive chefs. It comes from a samurai sword you can use as a kitchen sword. Kiritsuke also known as the Japanese master and kiritsuke knife use as master chef’s knife. That can be used as an all-purpose knife. These Kiritsuke knives are unique looking with their angled tips. Flat profile of knife allowed you to make great contact with board and make a much nicer cleaner cut every time. General size is 240 mm to 330 mm.

Kiritsuke are very versatile knife only master chef in the restaurant is permitted to use it. Kiritsuke single bevel are symbol of status and expertise, these kiritsuke knives are only allowed in Japanese food restaurants

Japanese kitchen knives are extremely sharp, they must be used slowly and carefully while practicing.

Kiritsuke is a multipurpose Japanese knife and can also be used for:

  • Slicing Meats,
  • Cutting Herbs,
  • Dicing Vegetables

Kiritsuke comes in two variations of angles.

  • The single bevel.
  • The double-beveled.

Kiritsuke Single Bevel Edge 

Kiritsuke Double Bevel Edge (kiritsuke Gyuto)

PETTY

 JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES

Petty is primarily used for smaller vegetables, herbs or fruits. Home cooks petty knives are a great option, Petty knives are small Japanese knives usually a lot smaller than chef knives. It is a knife that should be in everyone’s kitchen.

Petty knives are small utility knives that are used for small work that a chef’s knife can’t handle such as trimming, and slicing small fruits and vegetables as well as for handling bigger tasks as a small Chef’s knife.

Petty knives are used for peeling, decorating, paring, removing eyes from potatoes. Petty knives can be used as decorating vegetables and fruits for beautiful presentations and garnishes.

The smaller the knife size, the more easily the knife can be driven. Petty knives are usually between 90mm and 180mm and(4 and 7 inches) in length.

SUJIHIKI

Types of Japanese Knives

Sujihiki knives are made of harder steel to achieve a better edge. Sujihiki knives are used for filleting, carving, slicing not treated as all-purpose knives. Sujihiki is the variation of the more traditional japanese shapes known as yanagiba, double beveled shapes from both sides of the blade rather than single beveled; this makes the knife a little more suitable for slicing protein.

Knife is also great for breaking down and skinning larger fish like salmon. Sujihiki has a gentle smooth curve and slight flat spot at the tip.

The gentle curvature allows you to slice through boneless protein smoothly. The balance point of the knife is at bolster.

Hankotsu: This is a butchering knife used for cattle to cut hanging meat from the bone. The general size is 150 mm. The general sizes range from 200 mm to 300 mm.

SANTOKTU

Types of Japanese Knives

Santoku is an all-purpose knife with a taller blade profile. Santoku literally means a knife of three virtues: primarily used for cut fish, meat and vegetables. Santoku knives are the most popular knives in japanese homes. 

In some parts of Europe Santoku is also known as santuko. Santoku is also known as santoku-bocho or bukabocho. The usual length ranges between 165-180mm.

Santoku knives are generally flatter blades than gyuto knives. Santoku is more versatile compared to Nakiri.Japanese traditional handles are lighter than western-style handles, making them feel more balanced towards the tip of the knife, making it more comfortable and more accurate.

USUBA

Usuba are traditional Japanese single edge knives. Usuba knives can be rectangular or semi-circular at the tip of the blade. These knives have a classical handle. These rectangular thin blades are designed for cutting vegetables and fruits such as cabbages.

These knives typically have a very flat blade profile making them more adept at push cutting or chopping rather than rock cutting. Another classical name kakugata Usuba originate in the Kansai region. Kaku means “Square”. Single-edged knives are able to get incredibly sharp and are favored for precise vegetable work.

These knives generally range in size between 180mm and 210mm.

YANAGIBA

Types of Japanese Knives

Yanagiba is a Traditional Japanese kitchen knife with a long and thin blade. Yanagiba was originally designed for cutting thin slices of raw fish.

Yanagiba is also known as shobu-bocho (sashimi knife).  Its long and thin blade can also be used for cutting large pieces of meat.

Yanagiba means willow in Japanese.

 as the blade of the knife resembles a willow leaf. Yanagiba means willow in Japanese. Thus, Yanagiba by extension becomes willow leaf blade.

Flatter version of Yanagiba used for preparing Fugu fish – the deadly blowfish, a specialty in Japan that can only be prepared in a certain way to be eatable.

These knives are also popular in western cooks for a multitude of tasks including roast carving.

A variety of regional and task-specific variations of the Yanagiba exist, including the Fuguhiki, Kiritsuke Yanagiba, Takohiki, and Sakimaru Takohiki. Best yanagiba sushi knife.

Usually Yanagiba knives range from between 240-360mm long.

BUNKA

Types of Japanese Knives

Bunka is a very versatile knife. It is a general purpose kitchen knife as Santoku. Bunka knives are designed for cutting vegetables. The triangle-shaped tip area is particularly useful for cutting fish and meats. Bunka is also a multi-purpose functional knife.

Bunka is different from a santoku knife from the shape of the tip. Difference in tip bunka offers extra bit travel and provides extra height which makes more intricate vegetable preparation. 

Blades are suitable for making long or short cuts, flat profiles are most adept at push cutting and chopping rather than rock chopping.

You can tackle different tasks in the kitchen. Bunka usually ranges in sizes 165mm and 180mm lengths.

Honesuki

types of japanese knife steel

Honeski is a japanese boning knife, it is different from european design. A special shape to them fairly flat back bone. The knife has a little more belly that makes slice to easier to breast meat.

  • These knives have just 50/50 grind on both side these knives can be used for right and left handed use.
  • Single beveled honesuki thes have either a flat plank towards the edge or a convex grind to them and the other side of the is flat.

A Honesuki is a Japanese boning knife, it is different from european design. Honesuki is a triangular profile knife. Honesuki shape and height function as a utility or petty knife.

Honesuki also comes in a thicker version called garasuki. General size 135 mm to 180 mm.

Japanese Knives VS Western Knives

We are going to look at rockwell scale, dardness and types of steels.

Western and Japanese kitchen knives are used for household made from different material. Japanese style knives are hand-forged knives and made from hard steel with metals like molybdenum and nickel.

The thing Japanese knives are better than Western style knives is the type of metal used and the forging process. Western style knives are sharpened on both sides of the blade. 

double bevel vs single bevel knife

Traditionally, Western style knives used softer steel means that the edges become dull faster than the average Japanese knife. Western knives range between 18 to 28 degrees.

Japanese style knives are sharper than their western style. Japanese knives are generally made from harder steel than western knives. Due to harder steel Japanese knives allow for the edges to hold sharper for longer.

Factors Japanese knives are better than Western Knives

  • ROCKWELL SCALE
  • HARDNESS
  • TYPES OF STEEL

ROCKWELL SCALE

The main factor of quality of knife is Rockwell hardness scale. Rockwell scales are used to measure the hardness of knives. The knife made from lower Rockwell scale will be softer steel. The knife made from harder steel hardness means that they will hold their edges for much longer. Blade with softer steel easy to sharpen and can dull faster than harder steel.

Traditionally Western knives are made with softer metal which basically means the edge will not last as long as a Japanese knife.

Blades that are too hard can effectively become brittle. The best Japanese knives are obviously hand-forged and made from hard steel.

HARDNESS

Japanese knives are made from harder steel with higher carbon content. The harder the steel and better the quality of steel, harder steel that keep their edge for longer while a soft steel will become dull quickly. Typical western knives has a hardness rating of HRC 52 – HRC 56 and Japanese knives has a hardness ranging from HRC 58 – 65.

The thing Japanese knives are better than western style knives the type of metal are used. Japanese knives require far less sharpening and maintenance than Western knives.

Types Of Steel

Japanese kitchen knives are made from different steels. The modern Japanese knife maker uses a variety of alloys and steels to better the quality of steel. There are different types of steels and have different properties.

Steel is an alloy of iron and other elements, but mainly carbon. Just a couple of percent of carbon, gives iron hardness, ductility and tensile strength which pure iron does not have

A good steel blade is rust resistant, easy to maintain, razor sharp and stays longer.

Carbon Steel

Iron and carbon are mixed together and known as carbon steel. Carbon steel easy to sharpen but susceptible to rusting and will change color over time. High carbon steels knives are easier to sharpen and much more affordable than stainless steel knives.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel knives are the most popular knives, stainless steel hold the edge for a long time, good sharpen ability, easier to maintain and are more durable. Steel alloy with a minimum of 10% chromium makes the steel rust resistant. Chromium is added with the steel to prevent the material from rusting and help to give the steel toughness which makes steel less brittle and less prone to chipping.

Japanese stainless steel has higher carbon-content. Japanese steel manufacturers have been producing extremely hard tools such as ZDP 189, HAP40, R2. The downfall of super stainless steel is the difficulty in sharpening.

stainless steel tends to be a softer form of steel, which means it often won’t hold an edge as well as high carbon steel.

Stainless steel knives are harder and to sharpen stainless steel knives you need lower grit Japanese whetstone.

VG-10 STAINLESS STEEL

VG-10 is a high carbon stainless steel blade made in Japan. VG-10 is combined with a specific series of elements including carbon, chromium, cobalt and vanadium. Steel contain 1% Carbon, 1% Molybdenum, 15% Chromium, 0.2% Vanadium,1.5% Cobalt, and 0.5% Manganese. Purpose of added these elements of steel only to provide hardness, edge retention, tensile strength and resistance to wear and abrasion,  improves grain structure, hardenability, strength wear resistance and holding a sharp edge.

VG stainless steel made up of higher quality alloys, higher quality alloys increase strength, edge holding. These different varieties of VG stainless steel are used by manufacturers in Japan. VG 10 mainly stand for V Gold 10, meaning good quality.

DAMASCUS STEEL

Damascus steel knives are unique and complex designs with a long-lasting sharp edge. The unique patterns are originally from Indian and Sri Lankan wootz steel.

Damascus steel made from two steels are molten layers of metal put together to create billets which are then folded, twisted, heated and hammered. Billets are repeatedly folded until the proper shade of dark red comes. Typically this process is done 32 or 62 times. Different variations of grades of steel are used VG1, VG2, VG10, AUS8, and AUS10. Mixing of two layer allow the knife to hold their edge for a long time.

Single/Double Bevel

In Western style knives and traditional Japanese style knives, the difference is the bevel on the blade. Western style knives are double beveled blades and traditional Japanese knives are single bevel blades.

Single bevel blade is only angled on one side of the blade surface and the other side is left completely flat. While in double bevel, knife angled are on both sides of the knives.

double bevel vs single bevel knife

In Japanese traditional single-beveled blades make super-thin cuts, extremely sharper. Single bevel Japanese knives typically have an angle of 12–15 degrees. A single bevel knife has a unique design. Single beveled blade is specifically designed for right handed or left handed users.These knives are more suitable for experienced chefs.

A double-bevel knives is widely used in Western and European kitchens. These knives generally are much easier to use, as they are designed to cut in a straight line. Double-bevel knives can be used to make different task like slices, chopping, and dicing.

When it comes to double bevel knife both right hand, left hand users can use.

These knives generally are much easier to use, as they are designed to cut in a straight line.

When it comes to sharpening single bevel blade is sharpening one side of the blade surface. On the other side double bevel are sharpen on both side of the blade.

One-sided edge knife more sharper and get more precision cuts and to sharpen required to be a professional. On the other hand, easy to sharpen double bevel is not required to be a professional.

Western double-beveled knives have a V-shaped blade edge and it’s much easier to sharpen.Single-bevel blade cuts better and cleaner cuts.

Thank you for reading.