Best Beginner Japanese Knife

When it comes to kitchen tools, a Japanese knife can truly be your kitchen companion for a lifetime, given the right care. Japanese chef knives stand as some of the finest culinary tools globally, crafted with remarkable skill and expertise. However, delving into this world can be overwhelming for newcomers. The sheer variety of types, styles, and materials can leave you puzzled about where to start.

Our guide is here to rescue you from confusion. I’ll walk you through the essentials and simplify the process. Whether you’re considering purchasing in Japan or from home, knowledge is your best ally. Remember, picking the perfect Japanese chef knife and the right sharpening stones is a journey well worth the effort. Let’s slice through the choices and make your cooking experience sharp and seamless.

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In Hurry? Check out this comparison chart

Image Model Prices
Miyabi Chef's Knife, 8-Inch, Birch/Stainless Steel Miyabi Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch, Birch/Stainless Steel
Shun Premier 7 Shun Premier 7″ Santoku Knife
Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife
TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife
Kai Wasabi Deba Knife 6 Kai Wasabi Deba Knife 6″

Why Buy a Japanese Knives?

Japanese knives are a cut above, and let me break down what makes them so exceptional.

Lighter design

First off, the lighter design of Japanese knives is a game-changer. Thanks to their thin blade profile and the absence of a bulky bolster, these knives are incredibly lightweight. You’ll be amazed at how effortless they feel in your hand, allowing for swift and precise movements. Imagine wielding a knife that’s nearly 50% lighter than its German counterpart – that’s the kind of power and control a Japanese knife offers.

Sharpness that endures

Japanese steel boasts a higher carbon content, resulting in blades that are not only thin and hard but also razor-sharp and remarkably enduring. The bonus? They maintain that sharp edge for a longer time, translating to fewer sharpening sessions and more time for slicing and dicing.


When you lay eyes on a Japanese knife, you’re witnessing a true masterpiece. Crafted by skilled blacksmiths, each knife is a labor of love and artistry. The intricate patterns on a folded Damascus steel blade are simply mesmerizing, but that’s just the beginning. There’s a whole world of finishing techniques and handle styles that will leave you in awe.

In a nutshell, Japanese knives are a symphony of design, sharpness, and artistry. They’re not just tools; they’re companions on your culinary journey. So, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned chef, these knives are bound to elevate your cooking experience to a whole new level.

Types of Japanese Chef Knives

  • Basic Knives: Starting with the essentials, we have the versatile Santoku knife. Its name translates to “three virtues,” representing its ability to handle slicing, dicing, and mincing with grace. Then there’s the Nakiri knife, a veggie champion built for precise chopping and slicing, thanks to its straight edge and squared tip. Don’t forget the Deba knife, a heavyweight for fish and poultry, with a thicker spine for controlled butchery.
  • Specialty Knives: Delving deeper, we uncover specialty knives designed for specific tasks. The Usuba knife is a vegetable virtuoso, expertly carving delicate garnishes. The Yanagiba knife excels at cutting raw fish, boasting a long, single bevel blade for pristine slices. For intricate tasks, the Kiritsuke knife combines the duties of a chef’s knife and a Yanagiba, perfect for chefs seeking ultimate versatility.
  • Global Cuisine Adaptations: Japan’s knife artistry extends globally. The Gyuto, akin to a Western chef’s knife, embodies Japanese precision with a touch of Western functionality. The Sujihiki knife, inspired by the Yanagiba, caters to global meat lovers with its balance of slicing prowess and versatility.

These knives are like brushes for a painter, each with a distinct purpose and character. So, whether you’re slicing sushi, julienning veggies, or carving a roast, there’s a Japanese knife that’s tailor-made for your culinary aspirations.

Best Beginner Japanese Knives of 2023 – Reviews


Miyabi Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch, Birch/Stainless Steel

Miyabi Chef's Knife, 8-Inch, Birch/Stainless Steel
I’ve always been captivated by Japanese knives, their sharpness and their elegance. So, when I saw the Miyabi Chef’s Knife on sale, I couldn’t resist treating myself to one. I went for the Miyabi SG2 line – it has a pretty rosewood handle and a Damascus steel blade with a textured finish. The handle even has a special mosaic pin, which adds a nice touch of craftsmanship.

When the knife arrived, it was in a strong box with a certificate and care instructions. The first thing I felt was how well-balanced and comfy it was in my hand. The handle is smooth and fits nicely and the part near the blade helps protect without making it heavy. The blade is impressive, shiny on one side and textured on the other. The edge is super sharp, thanks to how they finish it by hand.

I couldn’t wait to try it out in the kitchen. I started with simple stuff like chopping onions, slicing tomatoes, and dicing garlic. It glided through everything like butter, no sticking or tearing. Even after many uses, it stayed sharp. The knife also handled harder stuff like carrots, potatoes, and squash with ease, no jamming or chipping.

I also tried fancier cuts like julienne, chiffonade, and brunoise. The knife was exact and let me make neat, even cuts. The blade was thin and flexible, perfect for delicate things like herbs and citrus zest. It handled meat and fish well too, slicing chicken, pork, and salmon without any fuss.

The Miyabi Chef’s Knife has become my go-to knife in the kitchen. It is a joy to use and easy to maintain. I just wipe it clean after each use and store it in a wooden block. I also hone it regularly with a ceramic rod to keep the edge aligned. I haven’t had to sharpen it yet, but when I do, I will use a whetstone or send it back to Miyabi for professional sharpening.

I highly recommend the Miyabi Chef’s Knife to anyone who loves cooking and appreciates quality knives. It is worth every penny and will last for years if treated well. It is not just a knife, but a work of art that combines German engineering with Japanese tradition.

Shun Premier 7

Shun Premier 7″ Santoku Knife

Shun Premier 7
The Shun Premier Santoku Knife, 7 Inch, is a real gem in the kitchen. Crafted with VG10 steel and stainless Damascus, it brings remarkable stability and precision to your cooking.

This knife is your go-to for slicing, dicing, and mincing tasks. If you’re all about efficient prep work, this knife is a game-changer. It’s like having a magician’s tool that turns your kitchen tasks into a breeze.

Having used the Shun Premier Santoku Knife myself, I can vouch for its versatility. Whether it’s vegetables, meat, or fruits, this knife tackles them with ease. Its balanced design and comfortable grip make it a joy to work with. The slight curve of the blade allows for a rocking motion, which adds to its utility.

The Kasumi Method used to forge this knife is truly something special. The Hamon line on the blade, reminiscent of a samurai sword’s mark, adds an artistic touch to the blade’s functionality.

What stands out is that Shun Premier knives have flat edges, unlike many western knives. This contributes to their sharpness and ease of maintenance.

Straight out of the box, this knife boasts a razor-sharp edge, thanks to its 16-degree angle. The Pakkawood handle ensures a secure grip, regardless of the food you’re handling. A word of caution, though – this knife’s sharpness demands careful handling until you’re familiar with it.


Yoshihiro VG-10 46 Layers Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife
For someone new to Japanese knives, this is a great choice. It’s like a mix of Japanese and Western styles, so it’s easy to use. It’s not too pricey either, making it perfect for first-time buyers.

The curved blade works like Western knives, good for rocking cuts. And the steel blade is really sharp. It’s made to resist stains, so it’s not high maintenance.

When I opened it, the knife was super sharp. The blade is solid and has a full tang. It’s covered with water-resistant steel, so it’s strong for everyday use. The VG-10 steel at the core is tough and keeps its edge. You won’t need to sharpen it often.

It’s a beautiful knife, and unboxing it was fun. But there are a couple of things I didn’t like. The bevel isn’t evenly split – most of the edge is on one side, which can be tricky to sharpen. And it wasn’t super sharp when I got it.

What I love is how light and good-looking it is, and the case is handy too. But be careful, the blade is thin and delicate.

In short, Yoshihiro’s double-edged stainless steel knife is a good start for beginners. It’s affordable and works well for both Japanese and Western styles of cutting.

TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife

TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife

Diving into the realm of Japanese knives, the TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife emerges as a budget-friendly gem with a legacy dating back to 1955. It’s a name revered by culinary experts and chefs globally. Notably, its affordability doesn’t compromise on quality – boasting high-quality steel, razor-sharp edges, and remarkable edge retention.

This knife showcases commendable features. Its lightweight, slim design makes it a champion for fine cutting and rocking motions. The precision-oriented tip shines in delicate tasks. Slicing through a carrot and gliding through tomatoes in one fluid motion showcases its prowess.

Interestingly, this Tojiro creation carries a slightly heftier weight than traditional Japanese knives, an advantageous characteristic for those transitioning from Western knives. The blade’s unique ripple pattern, a result of its forging process, adds an aesthetic flair.

However, it’s essential to note that while the balance and overall design may not match pricier counterparts, the TOJIRO JAPAN Professional Chef Knife delivers solid performance. It’s a reliable workhorse that consistently gets the job done.

In essence, this Tojiro marvel is a testament to remarkable value at its price point. While it may not flaunt luxury features, if you’re in search of a well-crafted Japanese knife that offers both performance and affordability, this TOJIRO chef’s knife deserves a prominent spot in your culinary arsenal.

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Kai Wasabi Deba Knife 6″

Kai Wasabi Deba Knife 6
If you’re after a budget Deba knife that gets the job done, the Kai Wasabi Deba knife is a smart pick.

Kai is known for their high-quality knives, and the Kai Wasabi series delivers great quality without breaking the bank. The Daido 1K6 stainless steel blade is sharpened thin and is tough with a hardness of 58 HRC. With no bolster, the whole edge can be used and easily sharpened. The handle is made from a mix of bamboo powder and polypropylene, making it strong and waterproof.

The handles are designed with a nod to traditional Japanese cutlery – wooden look with a steel ferrule. I personally found it appealing, even more so once I held it.

The blade surprised me – it came super sharp out of the box! It’s a delight to see a budget knife come razor-sharp. The Kai Wasabi Deba Knife’s 16-degree single-bevel blade is made of high carbon stainless steel, resistant to corrosion and wear. The Japanese-style handle is comfy and easy to clean.

Having used it myself, I can say the Kai Wasabi Deba Knife is a practical choice. It’s sharp, well-designed, and gets the job done without costing a fortune. If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable Deba knife, this one’s a winner.

Factors to Consider when Buying a Beginner Japanese Knife

Let’s explore the key factors that deserve your attention when embarking on the journey to choose the perfect beginner Japanese knife.

  • Blade Material: For most home cooks, a stainless steel Japanese knife is your best bet. It offers the benefit of being rust-resistant, requiring less maintenance than its carbon steel counterpart. While carbon steel blades stay sharper for longer, they demand meticulous care. Keep in mind that both stainless steel and carbon steel are preferable to ceramics, which lack the ability to be sharpened.
  • Size: The 8 to 8.5-inch chef’s knife reigns as the go-to size for everyday kitchen tasks. However, you might come across various lengths. Personal preference plays a role here. Smaller hands might favor a smaller blade. To find your perfect fit, it’s a good idea to get hands-on experience. A starting point could be the 8-inch blade – a versatile choice that’s widely appreciated.
  • Tang: The tang signifies how the blade is connected to the handle. “Full tang” means the blade spans the handle’s entire length. While it’s often a mark of quality, higher-end Japanese knives have a different construction – the blade and handle are melded together. This distinction, more common in Japanese knives, minimizes the tang’s significance.
  • Handle: Japanese knife handles, usually crafted from wood, offer a non-slip advantage even when wet, unlike many Western knives with plastic handles. The wood’s fine-grain and porous nature ensures a sturdy grip. Handles often come in chestnut (“D” shape) or octagon shapes, slightly broader at the end. These ergonomic designs cater to comfort, enhancing your slicing experience.

Selecting your ideal beginner Japanese knife involves a thoughtful blend of factors. It’s about matching the material, size, tang, and handle style to your culinary needs and preferences. Remember, the right knife is more than just a tool – it’s your culinary partner on a journey of flavor and creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a gyuto and santoku knife?

Gyuto is like a Japanese chef’s knife, versatile for various tasks including meat and vegetables. Santoku, shorter and lighter, excels at slicing, dicing, and mincing. Both have unique strengths but cater to different preferences and tasks.

Can Japanese knives be used for both meat and vegetables?

Absolutely! Japanese knives handle both meat and veggies with finesse. Their precision and sharpness make them great all-rounders in the kitchen.

Are Japanese knives suitable for left-handed individuals?

Yes, many Japanese knives are designed for ambidextrous use. Look for models with symmetrical blades and handles to cater to left-handed individuals.

What type of cutting board should be used with Japanese knives?

Opt for soft, wood or synthetic cutting boards to protect the delicate edges of Japanese knives. Avoid hard materials like glass or granite to maintain their sharpness and longevity.


I hope this journey into the world of beginner Japanese knives has been as enlightening for you as it has been for me. As a passionate home cook, I know that the right knife can truly elevate your culinary endeavors. Remember, whether it’s the lightweight charm, enduring sharpness, or captivating craftsmanship, each aspect adds a layer of magic to your kitchen experience. With considerations like blade material, size, handle style, and more, you’re now equipped to make an informed choice. So, take a step forward with confidence and explore the realm of Japanese knives, where each slice becomes a masterpiece and every dish a symphony of flavors.

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