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Hand forged Japanese kitchen knives

For many centuries in Japan lives the traditional craftsmanship of knife and sword forging. Not without reason, this tradition has been preserved until today and continues to find new followers.

On these pages you will find knives that come from this tradition and are waiting to come to your home.

New arrivals:

The traditional Japanese chef's knife - the "King of the Kitchen"

With this online store, we provide interested parties with access to traditional Japanese cutlery. The knives we offer are selected with an absolute focus on exclusivity and the highest quality.

We always try to offer a variety of different steels and knife types in order to fulfill as many individual wishes as possible and to reflect the diversity of Japanese knife culture.

Have fun browsing.

What distinguishes original Japanese kitchen knives from others?

A good Japanese knife is not cheap. Nevertheless, it is worth every penny. Because once you've had it in your hand, you won't want to give it up. This is also due to the outstanding sharpness of the knives, which cut through any food as through butter. In addition, it is a purchase for life, because such a knife you will still be able to inherit with a little care. The big difference between a normal - European - knife and a Japanese one is hidden in the construction of the blade. The blades of European knives are usually stamped from one piece of steel and then further processed. This results in a lower hardness of the steel (maximum 58 HRC). However, the hardness of a blade determines how sharp it can be ground. The harder the steel, the sharper the knife can be ground.

Japanese chef's knives, hand-forged and super sharp

However, the harder the steel, the easier the blade will break when overloaded. Therefore, hand-forged Japanese knives are made of three layers of steel. The two outer layers are relatively soft and thus protect the extremely hard core (up to 68 HRC). This results in a knife that is nevertheless flexible, with a very high hardness at the core and enormous sharpness at the cutting edge. European knives, on the other hand, have a distinct disadvantage in terms of sharpening potential and blade resistance due to the tougher, softer steel, so they become dull much more quickly. Original Japanese hand-forged kitchen knives are very cutting, do not need to be resharpened so often for a long time.

Hand forged Japanese kitchen knives are extremely durable

With one of our knives you acquire a very durable product, which is clearly superior to European knives in terms of functionality (sharpness and edge retention). Compared to European knives, Japanese knives can also be recognized by their handle. The Japanese handles are generally lighter than European handles, the Japanese knives are therefore much better balanced (center of gravity much further towards the tip of the knife compared to European knives, where the center of gravity is often in the handle) and generally more agile and precise, easier or more intuitive to control. Natural wood handles, by the way, have the advantage of gaining a better grip when damp; European knives, by comparison, often become slippery when damp.

The sharpness and precision of Japanese knives ultimately also contributes to the safety of the user, since slipping off the cut material or inaccurate cutting with a Japanese knife is unlikely to happen due to its sharpness. Another difference is the craftsmanship behind the product. The blacksmiths are experts in the field of steel processing and combination of soft sheath steel and extremely hard blade steel. Different temperature ranges and processing temperatures must be observed here, which is very difficult to learn, master, let alone copy industrially.

  • What makes Japanese knives so special - tradition and craftsmanship
  • Japanese knives - what types of knives are there?
  • Buying a Japanese knife - what to look for?
  • Japanese knife steels
  • Caring for Japanese knives - care tips for a long knife life
  • Japanese knife sharpening
  • The best Japanese knife
    • How often do I use my Japanese knife?
    • What do I use my Japanese knife for?
    • The sharpness of my Japanese knife
    • The appearance of my Japanese knife
    • The ergonomics of my Japanese knife
  • What should a Japanese knife cost? - Most expensive Japanese knife
  • Japanese knives in test - how is our assortment structured?
  • Japanese knife sets - which knives do you need?

What makes Japanese knives so special - tradition and craftsmanship

Swords have been forged in Japan since the 15th century, the world-famous katanas. From this tradition, the production of hand-forged Japanese knives has developed and become established. Many traditional cutlers still make katanas, or at least are historically associated with swordsmithing. So the Japanese knife has a long history. The craft of knifemaking has been perfected and developed over centuries. A hand-forged Japanese knife is a cultural asset that today finds its followers not only in Japan but all over the world. At the same time, the knives from the different forges can differ greatly. In the often small and family-run craft businesses, their own philosophies have developed over the generations. For example, there are forges that produce robust Japanese knives made of classic steels and designed for performance. Other blacksmiths have optimized the handle materials used and their forging techniques over the generations to produce knives that are as light as possible and do not tire the cook. Still other blacksmiths produce visually appealing Japanese knives from the highest quality materials and high performance steels, combining tradition with careful modernization.

However, Japanese knives are more popular today than ever before, not for nostalgic reasons or just because of their tradition. Hand-forged Japanese blades have unbeatable advantages in times of industrial mass production and more than ever their raison d'être. One does not go too far out on a limb when calling Japanese knives the best knives in the world. This is due to several factors. One of the most important is certainly the steel used to forge Japanese knives. Japanese knife steel is generally much harder than conventional knife steel used in this country. The blades of Japanese knives are therefore much harder and consequently much sharper.

This allows food to be processed as gently as possible, as the cell structure is only minimally damaged during cutting. This can be easily understood using the example of a tomato. With a conventional knife, a certain amount of pressure must often be applied to the tomato before the blade penetrates the skin and actually cuts the tomato. The result often not only looks unappetizing, but also causes the cellular structure of the tomato to be injured and more juice to escape than necessary. With a cleanly sharpened Japanese knife, virtually no pressure needs to be applied to a tomato to cut it. The blade immediately penetrates the flesh at the first touch and cleanly slices the tomato. The result is a clean cut, the sliced tomato looks appetizing, and less juice escapes

The blade construction of Japanese knives is usually 3-ply. The extremely hard core steel is surrounded on both sides by a sheath steel, which protects the blade and gives it a certain flexibility. At the cutting edge, the core steel is ground free, and the transition from sheath steel to core steel can be easily seen on most Japanese knives. In addition, Japanese knives are much more ergonomically balanced than the typically relatively heavy and handle-heavy knives of conventional manufacturers in Europe and America. This means that Japanese knives often have their center of weight in the transition between the handle and blades, or even toward the blade. This weight distribution means that Japanese knives hardly cause any signs of fatigue even during intensive use and can be wielded very precisely. The balance of Japanese knives thus ensures that you always have the feeling that the blades can be guided safely and cleanly when cutting.

In addition to the various knife steels and forging techniques, different types of knives have also evolved over the centuries, which have endured to this day. As Japanese all-purpose knives, the knife types Santoku knife, Bunka knife and Gyuto knife are used. These should be part of the basic equipment. Especially for the processing of vegetables, the Nakiri knife with its characteristic, almost rectangular blade shape, is used. For fruits and vegetables, but also as a small all-purpose knife, the petty knife is used. It usually has a shorter blade than other Japanese knife types. For boning poultry, the Honesuki knife has established itself, and for processing fish, the Funayuki knife and Kiritsuke knife types are suitable. A detailed description of the specific characteristics of all these knife types can be found in the next section.

Japanese knives - what types of knives are there?

Over the centuries, the world of Japanese knives has developed its own types of knives for virtually every cutting task.

The basic equipment in the kitchen should in any case include an all-purpose knife. The most suitable knives are Santoku knives, Bunka knives and Gyuto knives. The typical blade lengths here range from about 170mm to about 210mm. Nevertheless, there are also slightly shorter but also slightly longer blades for these knife types. Santoku knives, bunka knives and gyuto knives are best suited for processing fish, meat and vegetables. The tip of the knife, characteristic of the bunka knife, can be used well for removing skins and tendons. Japanese utility knives are usually sharpened on both sides.

For the processing of vegetables, the nakiri knife has become established. This Japanese kitchen knife is characterized by a blade length of mostly 160mm to 170mm, the shape of the blade is almost rectangular and relatively wide. Due to the very small blade thickness, very fine and precise cuts are possible with Nakiri knives, where the vegetables are not crushed. The gentle processing of food is the main focus here. The Nakiri knife is also suitable for chopping vegetables and herbs. With the wide blades, vegetables and herbs can be conveniently picked up after cutting or chopping and transported to the pot or pan.

For smaller cuts and especially for peeling work and fruit, the petty knife is excellent. The usually relatively short blades make this type of knife a handy tool in the kitchen, which is mostly used for delicate work where the blades are precisely guided. Often, the petty knife is also used as a small all-purpose knife. The petty knife is usually ground on both sides.

For processing poultry, the Honesuki knife is ideally suited. With the relatively stiff blades, poultry can be boned excellently, poultry joints can also be cut with this type of knife (Attention: Do not chop, even a Honesuki knife is not a cleaver!). The relatively narrow blade of the Honesuki knife can be precisely guided along bones, so that clean pieces of meat can be cut off. The sharp tip can also be used to precisely separate connective tissue and fat. Compact Japanese knives are best suited for this work, so the typical blade length for the Honesuki knife is about 150mm.

There are also Japanese knives that are specially designed for processing fish. These types of knives include the Funayuki knife and the Kiritsuke knife. Both types of knives have a pointed tip, which is excellent for processing fresh fish. Under the designation Funayuki and Kiritsuke you can find sometimes very different knives, so you should always pay attention to the exact description of the respective knife.

Buying Japanese knife - what to look for

When choosing a Japanese knife, you should first consider what the knife will be used for. If you are also looking for an all-rounder or a knife for basic equipment, you should go for a Japanese all-purpose knife. Here, the Santoku knife, the Bunka knife and the Gyuto knife are the best choices. If you have somewhat more specific requirements, there are various special shapes. For example, for a vegetarian who mainly processes vegetables, a Nakiri knife may be the right choice, as this is a Japanese type of knife that was specially developed for cutting and chopping vegetables and herbs. For fish lovers, there are special shapes designed for processing fish, such as the Funayuki knife and the Kiritsuke knife.

It should also be taken into account that depending on the knife steel, handle material and surface structure, the prices for Japanese knives can vary greatly. A good Japanese knife can be bought for as little as 90€, but you can also find Japanese knives for several thousand euros on the market. In this context, you should also consider how important the appearance of a Japanese knife is to you. Simple knives, which function excellently, look less spectacular than luxuriously executed Japanese knives with special surface structures and noble handle woods due to the usually simpler materials. On the other hand, the simpler Japanese knives are usually less expensive than very elaborately made knives, some of which are bought as collector's items.

A basic decision should also be made regarding the desired knife steel. Roughly speaking, one has a choice between traditional knife steels, modern knife steels, and innovative hybrid knife steels. Traditional knife steels usually achieve very high degrees of hardness and a corresponding sharpness. Modern knife steels are easier to maintain due to their corrosion resistance, but they do not achieve the hardness and sharpness potential of traditional knife steels. In addition, there are innovative hybrid knife steels such as HAP40 and ATS-34, which achieve extreme degrees of hardness and sharpening potential, but still have very good corrosion resistance. More details on Japanese knife steel can be found in the following section.

Japanese knife steels

Japanese knife steel is valued worldwide for its outstanding properties. When choosing a Japanese knife, the knife steel should be one of the decisive criteria. Basically, Japanese knife steels differ in terms of hardness, sharpness, edge retention and corrosion resistance.

Traditional steels include Shirogami 1 (White #1), Shirogami 2 (White #2), Aogami Super, Aogami 1 (Blue #1) and Aogami 2 (Blue #2). The great advantage of these steel grades is their very high hardness and corresponding sharpness. A well-sharpened Japanese knife with one of these traditional core steels will always outperform a conventional Western knife in terms of sharpness and hardness. These traditional knife steels are characterized by a relatively high carbon content. Accordingly, these steels are not stainless and must be cared for accordingly (click here for care instructions). After use, blades made of these steels should always be rinsed and dried by hand.

More modern knife steels such as VG10, AUS10 and Gin 3 offer the advantage that they are only slightly susceptible to rust formation and are therefore often offered as stainless. However, it should be noted that even a supposedly stainless steel can certainly corrode, whether through cleaning in the dishwasher or permanent moisture. Even conventional supposedly stainless Western knives from well-known manufacturers may well show the familiar rust spots on the blade after a rinsing process in the dishwasher. The easy-care Japanese knife steels are generally more flexible and less porous than the carbon steels described above. On the other hand, blades made of these steels are less hard.

Last but not least are the high-performance steels, which combine the best of the carbon and stainless steel worlds: extreme hardness and sharpness combined with rust resistance. These include the HAP40, ATS-34 and ZDP189 steels. These knife steels are still relatively new on the market and are just beginning their triumphant advance. We have already tested these knife steels and are convinced that they will establish themselves in the world of Japanese knives.

HAP40 is a powder metallurgy steel that achieves extreme hardness levels of up to 68 HRC. At the same time, it is extremely cutting - this Japanese knife steel keeps its sharpness 3 - 5 times longer than conventional knife steels! In addition, HAP40 knife steel is hardly susceptible to rust, which makes it a low-maintenance alternative to other knife steels with similar hardness grades.

ATS-34 knife steel is also a comparatively modern steel. It reaches hardness levels of up to 64 HRC, making it comparable in hardness to traditional White #1, White #2, Aogami Super and Blue #2 knife steels. At the same time, however, this steel is hardly susceptible to corrosion, which makes it an excellent alternative for anyone looking for a knife with a high degree of hardness and extreme sharpness, but at the same time attaches great importance to the ease of maintenance of its knife blades.

Caring for Japanese knives - care tips for a long knife life

Caring for a Japanese knife is not difficult. If a few tips are followed, you will be able to enjoy a Japanese knife for many years. By the way, our knife care tips do not only apply to Japanese knives, but can be used for all knives.

Tip 1 - The cutting pad: Plastic pads or wooden boards are always preferable to very hard cutting pads. Soft wood pads in particular ensure that the sharp cutting edge of the knife retains its sharpness for longer.

Tip 2 - Cleaning: A knife should never be cleaned in the dishwasher. The knife handles, which are often made of wood, can swell up here and the blade will rust more quickly. It is best to clean your knife directly after use with lukewarm water, a fine sponge or cloth and a little dishwashing liquid. After rinsing, the knife should be dried directly.

Tip 3 - Storage: You should not store your Japanese knives in a drawer with many other knives, there is always a risk of damage. Wooden knife blocks, the supplied knife box or knife bags are recommended.

Tip 4 - Sharpening: Even a Japanese knife will wear out over time and will then need to be resharpened. For this you should always use water sharpening stones, sharpening steels should be kept away from Japanese knives! Depending on the condition of the blade, different sharpening stones are recommended. In the next section you will find more details on how to sharpen Japanese knives properly.

Japanese knife sharpening

Sharpening a Japanese knife is not complicated. With a little practice, you can keep your Japanese knives in a perfectly sharpened condition even without prior experience. Please always use a water whetstone to sharpen a Japanese knife. Sharpening steels and other grinding devices are not recommended. A water whetstone for Japanese knives does not cost much, is very durable and uncomplicated to use. Depending on how much a blade is worn, the right whetstone should be chosen. A heavily worn blade should be pre-sharpened with a slightly coarser grit to create a basic grind. With an existing basic grind or only slightly worn blade, a very fine to ultra-fine grit can be used for fine grinding. With these grits, the maximum sharpening potential is extracted from the blade of a Japanese knife. The water sharpening stones and sharpening stone sets we offer have been extensively tested with our Japanese knives and are recommended by us without reservation. The respective product descriptions indicate which whetstones or whetstone sets are best suited for which requirements. Here is a detailed sharpening guide for Japanese knives.

With our sharpening stone sets you are fully equipped and can produce both basic and fine grinding. The whetstone sets are supplied in a practical storage box.

We also offer our individual stones in fine, very fine and ultra-fine grit for the basic grinding and fine grinding of Japanese knives. There are also differences in size, material and bond of the stones. In the individual product descriptions you can learn more about the specific properties of the individual water sharpening stones.

The best Japanese knife

The best Japanese knife is the knife that best suits your needs. Based on five characteristics, you can decide which Japanese knife is the best choice for you:

1. How often do I use my Japanese knife?

If a Japanese knife is used frequently, there will be a corresponding strain on the material of the handle and blade. Accordingly, it is essential to pay attention to an appropriate quality of workmanship when buying a Japanese knife. Only an excellent quality of workmanship ensures that you buy a durable tool for the kitchen with a Japanese knife. All knives in our store are made by traditional cutlers who have mastered their craft to perfection. With proper care, all of our knives will be a long-lasting companion in all cooking situations.

2. What do I use my Japanese knife for?

Depending on what a Japanese knife is mainly used for, different types of knives are available. Santoku knives, bunka knives and gyuto knives are mostly used as all-purpose knives. A special form of Japanese knife is the Nakiri knife, it is mainly used for vegetables. For small cuts and for fruit and peeling work, the usually somewhat shorter petty knives are used. If you mainly want to process fish with your Japanese knife, the Funayuki knife and Kiritsuke knife types are suitable. A detailed description of the different Japanese knife types can be found in our knife knowledge chapter about knife types.

3. The sharpness of my Japanese knife

As described in our section on Japanese knife steels, the different Japanese knife steels also have different sharpening potentials, hold their sharpness for different lengths of time, and are different in terms of maintenance. The most extreme sharpness can be achieved with the traditional carbon steels Shirogami and Aogami, as well as with the high-performance steels ATS-34 and HAP40. The AUS10, GIN3 and VG10 steels have less extreme sharpening potential, but are easier to maintain and therefore no less popular.

4. The appearance of my Japanese knife

This point is not to be neglected, because I prefer to use an item that I like more often than one that does not appeal to me visually. The world of Japanese knives is very diverse, and if you scroll through our assortment, you will notice that the designs of the individual knifemakers also vary greatly. Thus, there are classic and plain Japanese knives, but also artfully forged Japanese knives, where exclusive woods are processed in the handle and the blade is given a special hammered surface structure. Here, too, personal taste should decide in the end.

5. Ergonomics in my Japanese knife

Decisive for the selection of the best Japanese knife is also how safe you feel when working with the knife. This feeling of safety is also a question of ergonomics. This is mainly influenced by the balance of the knife, the shape and feel of the handle as well as the weight and size of the knife. The knives in our range are excellently balanced, so our blades can be wielded safely and precisely. When it comes to the handle, there are different shapes and finishes. Some customers prefer natural handles without edges, others prefer octagonal, lacquered handles. The size of a Japanese knife is mainly based on what food is to be processed with the knife. For large cabbages or pieces of meat, one will use a larger blade than for finely chopping an onion. Regardless of the size, however, the knife steel used also has an influence on the weight of Japanese knives. For example, Misuzu knives feel significantly lighter than comparably sized Kisuke knives.

What should a Japanese knife cost? - Most expensive Japanese knife

Japanese knives come in all price ranges. Absolute entry-level knives can be bought for under 70€, even knives for over 1,000€ are not hard to find. In extreme cases, six-figure sums are called for absolute exclusive models. However, these are more art objects and exclusive collector's items than tools for cooking.

We think that a good Japanese knife does not have to be exorbitantly expensive. With simple but good material, a blacksmith can make a very good knife, which can be offered for about 80€ to 100€. Such a knife can have a blade of very good steel and be excellently forged, the handle will usually be made of simple wood. An example of such a knife is the Yoshimitsu White #1 Bunka with a blade length of 175mm and Ho-wood handle. This is a simple but excellent performing knife. Compared to knives of conventional western manufacturers with similar price level, in our opinion such a Japanese knife is preferable anytime. This knife is excellently balanced, has an excellent core steel that can be sharpened very sharp, and is quite sufficient for most purposes.

A more elaborately forged knife is for example the Kisuke ATS-34 Gyuto with 180mm blade length and rosewood handle. This steel has a special position in the world of Japanese knives, apart from Kisuke Manaka we know of no smith who forges this steel into 3-ply blades. The high hardness levels and extreme sharpness combined with corrosion resistance make these blades special. The hammered Tsuchime surface of the blade and the high quality rosewood handles are further features that make this knife more valuable and accordingly more expensive.

Japanese knives in test - how is our assortment structured?

Our assortment should show a large cross-section of the world of Japanese knives. Therefore, we have various knifemakers in the program, which all stand for a slightly different philosophy. From pure tradition to cautiously modern, we have Japanese knives in our assortment that have evolved from different philosophies. We carry all common Japanese knife types - in the store you will find Santoku knives, Bunka knives, Gyuto knives, Nakiri knives, Petty knives, Honesuki knives, Funayuki knives and Kiritsuke knives. This ensures that the right blade type is available for every requirement. We also have a wide range of steels, from the traditional Shirogami and Aogami steels (White #1, White #2, Blue #2, Aogami Super), to the low-maintenance and more modern steels (AUS10, VG10, Gin3), to innovative high-performance steels such as HAP40. The goal is also to offer a good selection for every budget. So you can find knives for under 100€ for a solid all-purpose knife up to 400€ for an absolute high-end knife for professional demands. Our range is complemented by suitable grinding accessories. With our water sharpening stones you have the right sharpening stone for Japanese knives for (almost) every blade condition.

Japanese knife sets - which knives do you need?

Depending on your own eating and cooking habits you should have different knives available. Basically, most requirements should be able to be covered with 3 knives. A Japanese all-purpose knife with a blade length of approx. 170mm to 210mm should be part of every basic equipment. Santoku knives, bunka knives and gyuto knives are particularly suitable here - everyone should own one of these Japanese knife types! In most cases, it is a good idea to add a paring knife to your knife collection. The Japanese vegetable knife is called a Nakiri knife and has an almost rectangular blade with usually about 160mm to 170mm blade length. A smaller knife for processing fruit or smaller cuts is also a good choice. Petty knives are best suited for this, delicate work can be done perfectly with them. If you regularly cut large pieces of food, e.g. for the weekly barbecue, you can also use a larger blade with a blade length of approx. 240mm. With this, even the somewhat coarser work can be done easily and safely.