Japanese knives are known for their superior quality and detailed designs. Thanks to their thin, delicate blades, these world-renowned kitchen knives help preserve your ingredients' flavor and integrity. As a result, home chefs can enjoy more flavorful dishes and precise cuts of meat and sashimi.
To help you find the Japanese knives for your cooking needs, we're rounded up the best Japanese knife sets available in 2021 below.
What Makes Japanese Knives Special
Japanese kitchen knives are considered some of the best in the world thanks to their razor-thin blade and increased hardness. If you're looking for authentic Japanese knives, look for products crafted by hand from skilled knife makers focused on preserving traditional Japanese craftsmanship.
Here are a few key ways Japanese knives compare to European knives:
- Thinner, Harder Blade— While German knife blades have a hardness rating of around HRC 52- 56, Japanese knife blades have a hardness rating of HRC 58- 65 thanks to higher carbon content. This increases the overall quality of the blade and reduces the need for frequent sharpening.
- Damascus Steel— Though traditionally, the Japanese knife blade is made from steel with a soft iron core, a more modern blade is made from multi-layer Damascus steel. This superior type of steel is easily recognizable thanks to its wavy design pattern.
- Blade Angle— The cutting edge of a Japanese kitchen knife is typically sharpened at a finer angle than a European knife's blade. This increases precision and helps the blade to glide through foods without pulling or sticking.
- Lightweight Design— Thanks to their thin stainless steel blades, Japanese knives are known for being incredibly lightweight. While this makes them more ergonomic for the chef, it also makes them prone to chipping and breaking. They're best suited for chopping, slicing, and dicing and should not be used on frozen foods or bony cuts of meat.
- Decorative Design— Traditional Japanese knife making focuses on the constant pursuit of excellence. As a result, Japanese knives often feature sleek designs with richly stained wood handles.
Japanese Knife Types
Also known as the "three virtues" or "three uses," it is an all-purpose kitchen knife, and it is comparable to a standard knife. The Santoku knife is curvier and has a pointer tip. It is perfect for cutting a wide range of ingredients from meat to vegetables. It is suitable for slicing, chopping, and dicing.
Gyuto is another all-purpose kitchen knife that can do everything a classic can do. Unlike the Santoku knife, this type of knife is slightly longer and with a more prominent point. Gyuto is perfect for chopping, mincing, slicing, and filleting. It is suitable to cut a wide range of ingredients like meat, fish, vegetable, and fruit.
The direct translation of Nakiri is "the vegetable knife" or for cutting greens. With the narrow meat cleaver shape, this type of knife is designed to cut through hardier vegetables like carrots, daikon, and potato. The straight blade edge makes it suitable for cutting the ingredient all the way without needing to pull or push and making it the best Japanese knife for cutting vegetables.
Deba is a type of filleting knife that can be the same size as Santoku. But unlike Santoku, it is curvier and makes it a better option for slicing fish or meat from the bone. It is not recommended to use for chopping through large bones.
Yanagida is a long and narrow shape that is only sharpened on one side. This design allows it to cut more precisely than other blades. This type of chef knife is the best use for slicing sashimi, removing fish skin and sushi.
The Best Japanese Knives And Knife sets
Yoshihiro Gyuto Chef's knife is a kitchen essential and most versatile knife. Perfect for dicing, slicing, and chopping everything from fresh produce to carving meat. If you're just starting out to explore Japanese knives, this is an excellent knife to start.
This Yoshihiro Gyuto knife is constructed with three layers of VG-10 Japanese Stainless steel center core with an elegant 16 layers of hammered outer steel. Making it exceptionally sharp, better edge retention, and durability with ease of sharpening. This is a knife that is both stylish and functional. It is a design that eliminates friction and keeps food from sticking to the blade. 100% handcrafted in Japan.
MIYABI chef knife is crafted using both traditional methods and innovative techniques. If you are looking for a quality knife for everyday use, give this knife a try. This chef's knife is the ideal knife for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing for just about any ingredients.
This chef's knife is made with a potent core of SG2 micro-carbide powder steel and layer in a Tsuchime finish cocobolo rosewood pakkawood handle. It is featuring a hand-boned blade, legendary katana knife-edge, and ergonomic design. It is handmade in the legendary knife capital of Seki, Japan.
Shun is a reputable and trusted knife brand that has been handcrafted Japanese knives for centuries. If you're looking for the absolute best Japanese knives out there, you can't get much better than Shun's Premier Collection. While this 12-piece set is a bit of a splurge, it's certainly a worthwhile one. Each Shun knife is handcrafted in Japan using traditional methods for an authentic end result that's built to last.
Shun's Premier Collection begins with a VG-Max super-steel blade that's hand-hammered to reduce drag when cutting. The walnut-finish Pakkawood wood handle is sculpted with a two-position design for a secure grip that ensures perfect cuts every time. Stainless steel end caps bring even weight distribution from end to end and are embossed with the Shun logo for a stylish finish. For beginner chefs or on a budget, check out the 5-piece starter block set.
The Sai 3-Piece Japanese Knife Starter Set, designed in collaboration with industrial designer Komin Yamada, marks the first new cutlery line by Global in over 30 years. It features three essential knives— a paring knife, utility, and multi-purpose Santoku knife— that blend traditional Japanese craftsmanship with modern technology.
Each knife is individually hammered by hand for a 12.5-degree blade edge and a unique finish that reduces drag and allows the knives to glide through almost anything without sticking. Three layers of steel, including a core of patented Cromova 18 Sanso stainless steel alloy and two layers of flexible 18/8 steel, offer superior strength and rust-resistance.
The Sai Knife Set's ergonomic handles offer a thumb rest for a more comfortable grip with increased control and efficiency. Seven decorative dots along the handle's base represent the seven traditional virtues from the Samurai code of honor.
If you aren't ready to invest an entire paycheck on a new set of Japanese chef knives, there are still plenty of affordable options out there that will do the trick. Ginsu's Gourmet Chikara Series 12-Piece Japanese Knife set offers the quality and durability of a high-end Japanese knife set without astronomical costs.
Each knife from Ginsu's Chikara series is made from premium rust-resistant Japanese stainless steel that stays razor sharp longer than most other affordable options. They're well balanced, durable, and the ideal knife set for any beginner chefs. In addition to this versatile 12-piece set, Ginsu also offers 4-piece, 8-piece, and 19-piece Japanese knife sets.
Looking for a set with only the essentials? The Classic Teikoku Knife Block Set from Global includes four of the brand's most popular award-winning knives. From tip to tail, each knife is made from Cromova 18 high-carbon stainless steel that's ice tempered for increased strength and corrosion resistance.
Designed with professional chefs in mind, the sleek blades are seamlessly constructed with a textured handle for improved grip. They're perfectly balanced yet surprisingly lightweight. Not only are the knives themselves sleek and stylish, but their bamboo storage block is as well. The minimalist wood block has a clear acrylic window that showcases your enviable blades.
If you're searching for a high-quality set of Japanese knives for under $100, look no further than this Pro Kitchen 5-Piece Knife Set from Yatoshi Knives. The versatile set is perfect for budding chefs and experienced cooks alike.
Satoshi Knives' blades are made using Cr17 stainless steel with 0.6-.075% carbon, more than two times that of other Japanese knives. As a result, they're incredibly durable, measuring at 57-58 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. The ergonomic handles are carved in a traditional Japanese style from water-resistant Pakkawood that won't harbor bacteria. Their sloped shape encourages a pinch grip for increased control and comfort.
This 4-piece Japanese Knife Set from Kessaku's Samurai Series offers traditional Japanese craftsmanship at an affordable price. Thanks to their quality materials and balanced design, they're sure to become your go-to knife set in no time!
The set's razor-sharp blades are made from pure high-carbon stainless steel for superior quality and more precise cuts. They're sharpened by hand at a 16-degree angle per side and polished to a perfect shine. For increased longevity, the corrosion-resistant knives are fitted with Pakkawood handles that resist water, dirt, and bacteria during cooking.
Looking for a set of knives that offers both style and function? You'll love this eye-catching 8-Piece Damascus Japanese Knife Set from YARENH. Each blade is made from 67-layer Damascus steel with a high-carbon steel core that ensures perfect cuts every time, no matter what you're slicing, chopping, paring, or carving.
Both the knives and the acacia woodblock are stained in a rich mahogany hue that adds a sophisticated touch to your countertop. In addition to style, their stylish Pakkawood handles provide a steady grip with increased comfort and agility. The set also includes a knife whetstone for quick sharpening between uses.
This Classic 2-Piece Starter Set from Shun is the perfect gift for any budding sushi chef, especially thanks to the stylish gift box they come in. Both the paring knife and chef's knife are handcrafted in Seki City, Japan, by skilled artisans that use traditional knife making techniques.
The blades in Shun's Classic Series are made from Damascus stainless steel with 34 micro-layers and a VG-Max Steel core. They're harder, sharper, and lighter weight than most knives, providing unparalleled performance and precision.