Elevating Your Culinary Game: The 7 Best Japanese Knives For Your Culinary Needs 

 Last Update December 11, 2023

By Jenny Zhang

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best overall
Shun Premier 7" Santoku Knife Hand-Sharpened thumbnail

 4.7/5

most budget friendly
Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Knife thumbnail

 4.7/5

best chef knife
MIYABI ARTISAN SG2 - Best Japanese Chef Knife thumbnail

 4.7/5

In the world of culinary arts, the art of Japanese knife-making is a time-honored tradition that has been passed down through generations of skilled artisans. With a rich history dating back centuries and a unique design that sets Japanese knives apart from other types of knives, Japanese knives are a must-have for any serious cook or chef. Japanese knives are renowned for their exceptional sharpness, precision, and beauty and are prized by chefs and home cooks alike for their ability to elevate any dish to the next level. Whether you're looking for Japanese chef knives to chop, slice, and dice your way through a wide range of ingredients, or a specialty knife designed specifically for filleting fish or slicing sushi, Japanese knives have you covered.

To help you find the best Japanese knives for your cooking needs, we're rounded up the best Japanese knives below. Don't hesitate any longer! Unlock Japanese knives' stunning beauty and unparalleled functionality today and elevate your cooking to a whole new level!

What To Look For When Shopping For Japanese Knives

Blade Material

Japanese knives are typically made of high-quality steel, such as VG-10, AUS-10, or SG-2. When shopping for a knife, prioritize high-quality steel that will maintain its sharpness and durability over time. Seek out steels that are renowned for their ability to hold an edge for extended periods, as this will minimize the need for frequent sharpening. If you're looking for a truly luxurious option, consider knives crafted from Damascus steel, which is created by layering different types of steel to produce an intricate and eye-catching pattern.

Blade Thickness

Japanese knives are typically thinner and lighter than their Western counterparts, making them more precise and agile, allowing for finer cuts and more control. Look for quality knives with thin, sharp blades that make precise cuts and hold its edge well.

Handle Material

Japanese knives can feature handles crafted from a range of materials, such as wood, resin, and micarta. While wood handles are a popular and traditional choice, they may demand more maintenance than alternative materials. Resin and micarta handles are durable and easy to clean but may not have the same aesthetic appeal as a wooden handle. Look for a handle that feels comfortable, secure in your hand, and well-balanced with the blade.

Balance

The balance of a knife is crucial for comfortable and efficient use. A knife that is properly balanced will provide a comfortable grip and enable effortless control over the blade. When holding a knife, the balance point should be near the handle, with the weight distributed evenly throughout the blade.

Price

The cost of Japanese knives can vary widely, ranging anywhere from $75 to upwards of $1,000. The price is typically determined by factors such as the quality of materials, level of craftsmanship, and brand reputation.

Blade Shape

Santoku

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, and it is suitable for slicing, chopping, and dicing.

Gyuto

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, and it is suitable to cut a wide range of ingredients like meat, fish, vegetable, and fruit.

Nakiri

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 pulling or pushing, making it the best Japanese knife for cutting vegetables.

Deba

Deba is a type of filleting knife that can be the same size as the Santoku. But unlike Santoku, it is curvier, making it a better option for slicing fish or meat from the bone. It is not recommended to use for chopping through large bones.

Yanagida (Shobu)

Yanagida is a long, narrow shape that is only sharpened on one side, and this design allows it to cut more precisely than other blades. This type of chef knife is best for slicing sashimi and removing fish skin and sushi.

Japanese Knife Brands

There are many reputable Japanese knife brands, each with its own unique style and history. Shun, Miyabi, and Global are among the market's most highly regarded and sought-after Japanese knife brands. Look for a brand with a good reputation for quality and performance and offer a product warranty or guarantee.

The Best Japanese Knives

Shun Premier 7" Santoku Knife Hand-Sharpened

Best Overall

Shun Premier 7" Santoku Knife Hand-Sharpened

Source: Amazon

Looking for the perfect kitchen knife that will help you slice, dice, and chop your way to culinary greatness? Look no further than the Shun Classic Chef's Knife! Crafted from high-quality VG-MAX steel, this knife is designed to hold its edge and resist rust, while the beautiful Damascus cladding adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen. Featuring a contoured PakkaWood handle with a warm walnut hue, and a hand-sharpened blade designed for optimal sharpness, this knife is a versatile choice that is equally well-suited for professional chefs and home cooks alike.

The blade is sharp and stays that way even with frequent use. From dicing vegetables to carving meat, this exceptional chef's knife does it all easily and precisely. Whether you're a professional chef or an aspiring home cook, the Shun Classic Chef's Knife is a top-quality tool that will elevate your culinary skills to the next level.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.7/5 Durability: 4.5/5 Quality: 4.5/5 Value for Money: 4.4/5 Ease to Clean: 4.8/5 Ergonomic: 4.5/5

Weight

0.34 Pounds

Blade Material

Stainless Steel

Handle Material

Walnut color PakkaWood®

Dishwasher Safe

Yes

Pros:

  • A comfortable and maneuverable handle provides a secure grip and excellent control
  • Versatile and perfect for a wide variety of tasks in the kitchen
  • Hand-sharpened blade ensures a sharp edge right out of the box
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • They do require care, maintenance, and above all, a working understanding of their design
  • Expensive price point

Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Knife

Most Budget Friendly

Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Knife

Source: Amazon

Yoshihiro Gyuto Chef's knife is a kitchen essential and the most versatile knife. Perfect for dicing, slicing, and chopping everything from fresh produce to carving meat. If you're just starting to explore Japanese knives, this is an excellent knife.

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. It makes it exceptionally sharp, with great edge retention and durability, and 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. It provides excellent balance and control, allowing you to effortlessly slice, chop, and mince to your heart's content. Boasting a perfect blend of style, functionality, and durability, this knife is a must-have for any well-equipped kitchen.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.7/5 Durability: 4.6/5 Quality: 4.6/5 Value for Money: 4.8/5 Ease to Clean: 4.6/5 Ergonomic: 4.5/5

Weight

0.4 Pounds

Blade Material

Stainless Steel

Handle Material

Alloy Steel

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • It can handle everything
  • Very solid construction
  • The comfortable handle provides a secure and comfortable grip, even when wet
  • Provides excellent balance, control, and durability

Cons:

  • Use with extreme caution as it is very sharp
  • High price point
  • The handle can be too bulky or not ergonomic enough for some

MIYABI ARTISAN SG2 - Best Japanese Chef Knife

Best Chef Knife

MIYABI ARTISAN SG2 - Best Japanese Chef Knife

Source: Amazon

Looking for a knife that's as beautiful as it is functional? Look no further than the Miyabi Mizu Chef's Knife! MIYABI chef knives are 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 ideal for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing just about any ingredient.

Unlike other Japanese knives, this Miyabi Mizu Chef's Knife is German-engineered and Japanese-designed. It is handmade in the legendary knife capital of Seki, Japan. Made with a potent core of SG2 micro-carbide powder steel and layer in a Tsuchime finish cocobolo rosewood pakkawood handle, this knife is designed to provide exceptional sharpness and precision, allowing you to slice through even the toughest ingredients effortlessly. And with its beautiful hand-hammered finish and sleek, ergonomic handle, hand-boned blade, and legendary katana knife edge, this Japanese knife is sure to be a showstopper in any kitchen.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.7/5 Durability: 4.6/5 Quality: 4.9/5 Value for Money: 4.6/5 Ease to Clean: 4.6/5 Ergonomic: 4.7/5

Weight

13.4 ounces

Blade Material

Premium SG2 Micro-Carbide Powder Stainless Steel

Handle Material

Metal, Stainless Steel

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • The sleek, ergonomic handle provides a comfortable and secure grip
  • Versatile and perfect for a wide variety of tasks in the kitchen
  • Extremely sharp
  • Ergonomic and balanced

Cons:

  • Use with extreme caution as it is very sharp
  • High price point compare to Western-style knife
  • The blade may require more maintenance than some other knives
  • The hand-hammered finish may make the knife more difficult to sharpen

Global Chef's Knife

Most Budget Friendly

Global Chef's Knife

Source: Amazon

Global G-2 8-inch Chef's Knife is a stylish, functional, budget-friendly, and beginner's choice for anyone looking for Japanese chef knives. It is also a knife recommended by Anthony Bourdain and was mentioned in his book Kitchen Confidential. Crafted from a high-quality stainless steel blend, a specially formulated steel that includes a unique blend of molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium. While the exact combination is kept secret, this steel is designed to maintain a sharp blade's edge while also being soft enough to sharpen easily with a whetstone. Moreover, the knives' high chromium content offers unparalleled resistance to rust and staining.

This knife is designed to provide exceptional sharpness and precision, allowing you to slice through any ingredient easily. And with its sleek, modern design and comfortable handle, this knife is the perfect choice for chefs of all skill levels. This Japanese knife can handle everything from chopping vegetables to slicing meat, perfect for unique or common tasks. The edge is the hallmark feature of any knife, and the GLOBAL knives are celebrated for their exceptional sharpness. Most GLOBAL knives are ground or sharpened on both sides of the blade, similar to Western-style knives, further enhancing their superior performance.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.6/5 Durability: 4.5/5 Quality: 4.9/5 Value for Money: 4.8/5 Ease to Clean: 4.7/5 Ergonomic: 4.7/5

Weight

7.8 ounces

Blade Material

Carbon steel

Handle Material

Stainless Steel, Stainless-steel Handle

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • The knife is very light
  • Very easy to clean
  • Affordable price point
  • The sleek, lightweight design makes the knife easy to handle and maneuver

Cons:

  • The handle is small and may be better for chefs with smaller hands
  • High price point

Shun Cutlery Premier Professional Nakiri

Best For Fruits And Vegetables

Shun Cutlery Premier Professional Nakiri

Source: Amazon

Are you tired of struggling to chop through tough vegetables and fruits with dull knives? Look no further than the Shun Classic Vegetable Knife! Perfect for chefs to chop everything from carrots to celery to potatoes, it's performed flawlessly every time. With its unparalleled blend of style, functionality, and durability, this knife is an indispensable addition to any kitchen.

Crafted from 68 high-quality VG-MAX steel, this Japanese knife is designed to provide exceptional sharpness and precision, allowing you to slice through even the toughest ingredients easily. Featuring a straight blade, edge, and spine, this Japanese knife is perfectly suited for simple push cuts. The knife's blunt end also offers an added layer of safety during use.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.8/5 Durability: 4.8/5 Quality: 4.9/5 Value for Money: 4.5/5 Ease to Clean: 4.7/5 Ergonomic: 4.6/5

Weight

0.51 Pounds

Blade Material

Alloy Steel

Handle Material

Walnut color PakkaWood®

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • The sleek, ergonomic handle provides a comfortable and secure grip
  • The handcrafted design adds a unique and stunning touch to the cleaver
  • Perfect for a wide variety of everyday vegetable and fruit-cutting tasks 

Cons:

  • Expensive price point
  • Not as versatile as other knife types

Global G-11 Yanagi Sashimi Knife

Best For Meat

Global G-11 Yanagi Sashimi Knife

Source: Amazon

If you're looking for a top-quality sushi knife to help you take your sushi game to the next level, look no further than the Global G-11 Yanagi Sashimi Knife. With its remarkable blend of style, functionality, and durability, this knife is an absolute must-have for any kitchen. What sets this Japanese knife apart is its prominent 1/4" edge, which is easily visible to the naked eye. What sets this knife apart from other Japanese knives is its straight-ground edge, resulting in extraordinary sharpness and edge retention, as opposed to a beveled edge.

Favorite among sushi chefs and has earned top accolades for their exceptional performance. Boasting a long and rigid single-bevel blade, this knife makes it effortless to produce thin, uniform slices of raw fish for sushi or sashimi. Crafted from CROMOVA 18 high-carbon stainless steel that's ice-tempered and hardened to resist corrosion, this knife is expertly designed to deliver unparalleled sharpness and precision. With a high chromium content, it can prevent rusting and staining of the knife. It allows you to slice through raw fish with ease and effortlessly. Featuring a sleek and lightweight design, along with a comfortable handle, this knife is ideal for both professional sushi chefs and home cooks.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.6/5 Durability: 4.5/5 Quality: 4.6/5 Value for Money: 4.5/5 Ease to Clean: 4.4/5 Ergonomic: 4.6/5

Weight

11.84 Ounces

Blade Material

Stainless Steel

Handle Material

Stainless Steel, Steel, Stainless-steel

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • Made from sturdy and durable high-carbon steel
  • Exceptional sharpness and precision for perfect thin cuts and slices of raw fish
  • Sleek, lightweight design with a comfortable handle for easy maneuverability
  • Versatile and can be used for other cutting tasks besides sashimi

Cons:

  • High price point
  • The single-bevel blade may take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with Japanese knives
  • Design for right-hand use only

Global Classic Flexible Slicing Knife

Best For Slicing

Global Classic Flexible Slicing Knife

Source: Williams Sonoma

If you're looking for a Japanese knife that will make slicing meats and poultry a breeze, look no further than the Global Classic Flexible Slicing Knife! This Japanese knife is the perfect addition to any kitchen with its unbeatable combination of style, functionality, and durability. And unlike the other Japanese knives, Global Classic Flexible Slicing Knife is designed for slicing. Crafted for unparalleled precision and control, this razor-sharp knife features an incredibly long and slender blade that expertly bends and flexes to accommodate the unique shape of your food.

Made from high-quality stainless steel, this knife is designed to provide exceptional sharpness and precision, allowing you to slice through meats and other ingredients easily. And with its flexible blade design, this knife is perfect for making precise cuts on even the most delicate of meats. With just a single stroke, you can use this knife to effortlessly create thin and uniform slices of salmon, ham, roast beef, turkey, and more.

Our Ratings

Overall Rating: 4.7/5 Durability: 4.7/5 Quality: 4.8/5 Value for Money: 4.5/5 Ease to Clean: 4.4/5 Ergonomic: 4.6/5

Weight

0.74 Pounds

Blade Material

Stainless Steel

Handle Material

Stainless Steel, Steel, Stainless-steel

Dishwasher Safe

No

Pros:

  • Exceptionally sharp and precise for creating perfect slices of raw fish and other delicate ingredients
  • Sleek, lightweight design with a comfortable handle for easy maneuverability
  • Durable and long-lasting with proper care and maintenance

Cons:

  • High price point
  • The blade may require more maintenance than other Japanese chef knives

How We Picked

We've meticulously handpicked our collection of Japanese chef knives based on our personal experiences, comprehensive research of customer reviews from various retail platforms, and valuable insights shared by professional chefs. Our criteria prioritize factors like materials, ergonomic design, ease of cleaning, and durability, ensuring that we exclusively recommend the finest products to our readers.


Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.