The Best Japanese Knives Of 2022

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These days, many people worldwide are looking to buy a Japanese knife. Fanaticism surrounding Japanese knives comes partly from an association with samurai swords. And there is at least one city where these two crafts intersect. Seki City, located in Gifu Prefecture, is called the "City of Blades," according to tourism website Visit Gifu, because its 800-year history shows how making samurai swords has evolved into a profitable kitchen knife industry.

Japanese knives are not just beloved for their history, or their association with detail-driven sushi chefs. The Asian cooking tools are known for being lighter, thinner, and more precise than Western knives (via CNet). Differences in knife size, shape, and material help to accomplish this. Knives from Japan also come with more specific uses. There are knives made just for cutting certain types of meat or vegetables. All of these factors should be considered when buying a Japanese knife. Consumers should also look at hardness on the Rockwell scale, bevel, blade angle, handle shape, and more. Some of these features indicate quality, while others are based on personal preference.

Even with their precision and specificity, Japanese knives have their downsides. Their hardness can make them more fragile and prone to chipping, explains House of Knives. They can also be more expensive (via Oishya). According to Chef Knives to Go, it's sometimes difficult to characterize Japanese cutlery. Luckily for you, we've found some of the best Japanese knives available in 2022.

How we selected products

We looked at several factors to decide which Japanese knives are best. Personal accounts detailing the experience with a product were considered. Press reviews — whether of a brand or a specific knife — were taken into account as well. General popularity also played a part in our decision-making: If a knife has never been bought online before, we think something's fishy. Most importantly, we considered the features of the knife and how well these help to achieve certain functions.

The type of Japanese knife was also considered. For your benefit, we selected popular versions of the gyutou (Japan's take on the Western chef's knife) and the santoku (a multipurpose kitchen tool), per Chubo Knives. But we also included nakiri, deba, yanagiba, pankiri, and other types of Japanese cutlery in our selections.

We contemplated each knife's bevel (the part where the tool is ground to the point) because Japanese knives sometimes have less of those than Western ones (via Kamikoto). We examined steel types because those can vary in quality. We appraised the hardness on the Rockwell scale (HRC) since Japanese knives have a higher HRC than most Western knives. We looked at knife angles because Japanese knives should have blades angled at less than 20 degrees (via Chef's Choice). We also studied the shape and material of each knife's handle, since these should be usually light, in an octagonal D-shape, and made of wood (via Oriental Souls). Read on to discover our selected products.

Best overall Japanese knife

Out of all of the Japanese knives out there, you can't go wrong with Global's 8-inch Chef's Knife. The brand itself is reason enough to consider this kitchen tool. According to its website, Global has been making Japanese knives for more than three decades. Today, its knives are still handmade at a factory located in Niigata, Japan. Along with authentic craftsmanship, Global's knives are versatile, being designed for both home cooks and professional chefs.

Unlike most Japanese knives, Global's knives are ground on both sides. This might bring to mind Western-style cutlery, which also has two bevels. However, rather than using angled bevels, Global grinds its knives to a point. This makes the brand's knives extremely sharp. The sharp points, combined with strong steel materials, help keep Global's 8-inch Chef's Knife sharp for longer.

This particular product is a good introductory item for those new to Japanese knives. That's because it's similar in construction to the Western chef's knife. It's a multi-purpose tool. Also, it can be used by both left- and right-handed people. According to Global, this knife (model number G-2) is made with stainless steel and has a hardness factor (HRC) between 56 and 58. On Amazon, it's been reviewed over 1,400 times and has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

You can buy Global's 8-inch Chef's Knife on Amazon for $89.95 as of October 2022.

Best budget Japanese knife

For an affordable option, check out Imarku's 8-inch Japanese Chef's Knife. It is popular on Amazon, where it has over 10,000 reviews. It is the No. 1 best-selling product among other gyutou knives — the Japanese version of the Western chef's knife (via Amazon). Buyers were mostly pleased with this product, giving it an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. Reviewers remarked that it's a "great affordable all-purpose knife," and that it has "great value."

Still, you sacrifice some quality indicators by going with this cheaper option. For one, this product is made in China, not Japan. Even though the company's website explains that Imarku has multiple manufacturing sites — including one in Japan — Amazon tells us that this specific knife is made in China. This checks out, as Imarku also has a manufacturing headquarters in Yangjiang, China. In addition, this knife is made with German steel. While being made in China with German steel isn't necessarily going to give you a bad Japanese knife, it may be a less authentic one.

Despite these downsides, it still has some good statistics backing it up. This knife has a hardness factor of between 56 and 58, and its handle is made with pakkawood, a traditional material used for Japanese knives (via Santoku Knives). 

You can buy Imarku's 8-inch Japanese Chef's Knife on Amazon for $39.99 as of October 2022.

Best splurge Japanese knife

Without a doubt, you can find Japanese knives that cost several hundred dollars — or even thousands of dollars (via Business Insider). We realize that for the home cook this is not realistic. That's why our pricey Japanese knife option costs about $200. For those wanting a really good quality Japanese knife, we recommend Shun's Premier 8-inch Chef's Knife.

This item is so popular that it is out of stock (at the time of this writing) on Shun's own website. On Amazon, its more than 1,500 reviews have an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. Aesthetics probably play a role in this knife's popularity. This product — with model number TDM0706 — has a blade made with intricate Damascus steel cladding, giving it a beautifully textured look. The handle is made of brown pakkawood. Both of these materials, rendered with skilled craftsmanship by Shun Cutlery, give this knife a traditional and sophisticated appearance.

But this knife isn't just looks. It's made with extremely hard VG Max steel. According to Kai Group (which owns Shun Cutlery), this type of steel has a hardness factor (HRC) of between 60 and 61. The edge of the knife is ground at a 16-degree angle. It's also handcrafted in Seki City — aka the "City of Blades." All of these qualities are what many Japanese knives aspire toward, but don't always achieve.

You can buy Shun's 8-inch Premier Chef's Knife on Amazon for $199.95 as of October 2022.

Best gyutou knife

The gyutou, or gyuto, is the Japanese version of the Western chef's knife. Whatever the spelling you use, the name translates to "cow sword," according to MTC Kitchen. Despite the name, it's not a butcher's knife but instead a multi-purpose tool. If you were collecting a new set of Japanese knives for your home, you would start by getting a gyutou. You can use it to do just about anything. If you're looking for one, go with Tojiro's VG10 Clad Steel with Bolster Chef Knife.

We picked this one because Tojiro is one of the most well-known names in the Japanese cutlery industry. Its history dates back to the 1950s, per the company. But traditional sword-making techniques — such as in the construction of weapons called the "katana" — still influence Tojiro's cutlery today. Tojiro's knives are handcrafted in Japan, in the city of Tsubame, which is known for metal production.

This particular gyutou — the model number is FBA-F-808 — is Tojiro's flagship model. Per Tojiro, it is reinforced with a handle bolster, has a versatile double bevel, and is made with VG10 and 13-chrome stainless steel. It also won two awards in 1996. On Amazon, it's been reviewed over 1,300 times, receiving an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. One customer even called Tojiro's product "the best possible option for a gyutou at the price paid."

You can buy Tojiro's 8.2-inch gyutou knife on Amazon for $99.95 as of October 2022.

Best santoku knife

Santoku knives are another type of versatile, multi-purpose Japanese knife. The name translates to "three virtues," according to Just One Cookbook. Those three virtues are said to be either vegetables, meat, and fish, or slicing, chopping, and dicing. Like the gyutou, the santoku is a multipurpose knife. However, santoku knives are typically shorter, less sharp, and offer a straighter edge than gyutou knives (via Gear Patrol). For a good quality santoku knife, we recommend Tojiro's VG10 Clad Steel with Bolster santoku.

On Amazon, this knife has been reviewed over 600 times, receiving an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. Many customers are pleased. "Very sharp, very well balanced," wrote one person. "Nice sharp santoku," another said. One Amazon customer noticed it was a little less traditional than most santoku knives on the market, but recommended this product nonetheless. "It does not have grooves on the side like many santoku knives, but that doesn't make much of a difference in performance. With a knife this sharp, you just let the blade do the work," they wrote.

This particular santoku knife from Tojiro is clad with 13-chrome stainless steel, the blade's length is roughly 6.7 inches, and it has a metal bolster in the handle, giving it a less traditional look — but one with some utility. Also, like Tojiro's gyutou, this knife won two design awards in 1996.

You can buy this santoku knife from Tojiro on Amazon for $92 as of October 2022.

Best petty knife

When shopping for a new knife, many look to add a paring knife to their toolkit for smaller tasks. For the Japanese version of the paring knife, look for a petty knife. Along with paring knives, petty knives are also compared to utility knives (via Cooks Illustrated). All of these knives are thin, short, and small, per Knives Academy. If you're looking for a petty knife, we recommend this one from the brand Yoshihiro.

Yoshihiro's Hammered Damascus Petty Knife (model number HDPE135) is a quality piece of Japanese cutlery. It has a hardness score of 60, meaning it's going to maintain sharpness and be resistant to damage (via FNSharp). The blade is made with ultra-strong VG-10 stainless steel as well as 16-layer hammered Damascus. That means you're going to get a lovely pattern as well as a super-strong blade. According to the company, the Damascus layer also helps to reduce friction and prevent food from sticking. Yoshihiro's petty knife is also double-edged, meaning it has two bevels. This makes it similar to Western knives and versatile for many chefs, regardless of whether they are right-handed or left-handed.

On Amazon, this product has been reviewed over 400 times, receiving an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Many people said they used it for cutting vegetables, remarking that Yoshihiro's product was excellent at slicing onions, making a slaw, or cutting up peppers.

You can buy Yoshihiro's petty knife on Amazon for $109.99 as of October 2022.

Best nakiri knife

A nakiri is a type of Japanese knife used for cutting vegetables. Its shape is similar to a meat cleaver with a large and rectangular form. As Made in Cookware explains, the blade is thin and has a straight edge. However, nakiris are usually lighter and shorter than chef's knives like the gyutou. If getting nakiri interests you, check out Mac Knife's Japanese Series Vegetable Cleaver (model number JU-65).

According to Mac Knife's website, all of its products are made by Japanese craftsmen using Japanese materials. Production is centered around Seki City, Japan. Since 1964, the brand has sold over 25 million knives. Mac's knives are sharpened on both sides at a 15-degree angle, which combines both Western and Eastern knife techniques. The company's knives are also made with high-carbon cutlery steel. This specific knife boasted a hardness of between 57 and 61 on the Rockwell scale.

This nakiri knife has a total length of 11.38 inches and a blade length of 6.5 inches. It weighs 5.6 ounces, which was described as lightweight by one user on Mac Knife's website. On Amazon, this nakiri has been reviewed over 500 times, where it has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. "Excellent Nakiri type knife," began one person. "For thin cuts in vegetables this is excellent," they finished.

You can buy Mac Knife's nakiri on Amazon for $79.50.

Best yanagiba knife

Yanagiba knives are a type of Japanese sushi knife often used to slice boneless pieces of fish (via Japanese Chef's Knife). They are recognizable for having long blades that allow users to cut through fish in one smooth motion. Yanagiba — or yanagi, as they are sometimes called — translates to "willow-leaf blade." This term represents the slim look of this knife. For shoppers, we recommend the Masahiro's yanagiba.

According to Hocho Knife, Masahiro is an established knife manufacturer operating out of the knife cutlery epicenter of Japan: Seki City. This particular knife has a hardness between 58 and 59 on the Rockwell scale, is made of stainless steel, and comes with a laminated handle that's built to prevent bacteria spread. Its blade is 9.4 inches long, with a total knife length of 18.11 inches. This yanagiba is made for right-handed people only, meaning it is a single-bevel tool.

On Amazon, this product is less popular than other knives. But it still has good reviews, receiving an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. According to some users, this knife is extremely sharp and lightweight. Others remarked that it held up for use in professional kitchens. "After 3 months of use in a busy sushi bar, this knife deserves some recognition. I thought the blade looked a little too shiny at first, but underneath the factory gloss is no-nonsense steel," one online shopper wrote.

You can buy Masahiro's right-handed yanagiba knife on Amazon for $93.63 as of October 2022.

Best deba knife

Deba knives are Japanese knives primarily used to filet fish. The term means "pointed carving knife," per Japan Bargain. As the Japanese Knives Guide explains, these sturdy tools can also be used on poultry and other small-boned meats. They are known for having a single bevel. While looking for a Japanese deba knife, we urge you to consider Kai's Japanese-made deba.

Kai is another authentic Japanese knife-making brand operating out of cutlery epicenter Seki City. The brand has been established longer than most, with the website boasting its first knives being sold around the turn of the 20th century. Per Kai, the company was founded in 1908 and continues to manufacture thousands of different products annually.

According to Amazon, this knife's blade is about 5.9 inches, for a total length of 10.59 inches. This Japanese knife has been reviewed over 300 times, receiving an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. "I like the (sharpness) and sturdiness of the blade!" one customer wrote.

You can buy Kai's deba knife on Amazon for $44.35 as of October 2022.

Best usuba knife

Usuba knives, like nakiri knives, are Japanese cutlery used to prepare vegetables. Per The Japanese Bar, the term "usuba" translates to "thin blade." This extra-sharp edge is achieved, in part, by an usuba's single bevel, which reaches halfway up the blade. As Korin explains, the sharpness of an usuba knife prevents vegetables from losing their coloring or flavor. If this sounds useful to you, check out Yoshihiro's usuba.

You can trust knives made by Yoshihiro, which has about a century of experience and has gathered a reputation for quality. As YuiSenri explains, Yoshihiro is one of the foremost manufacturers of well-made knives in Japan. Many Reddit users recommended the company from personal experience with Yoshihiro's products as well. "I think they're great knives for someone who wants to dip a foot into Japanese knives," one Reddit user said. "They stay super sharp for a long time," another person said of Yoshihiro's cutlery products.

On Amazon, users appreciated Yoshihiro's usuba knife. Customers gave the product an average rating of 4.8 out of 5, from more than 190 reviews. This particular knife has admirable features, including 46 layers of hammered Damascus steel, a VG-10 steel core, a hardness factor (HRC) of 60, and a traditional, octagonal-shaped handle made of shitan rosewood. It also comes with a Saya cover (a sheath used to protect a knife's blade).

You can buy Yoshihiro's usuba knife on Amazon for $179.99 as of October 2022.

Best sujihiki knife

Sujihiki knives are similar to yanagiba knives in that both are long, thin blades used for slicing. But while the yanagiba knife is more of a specialty tool used specifically for sushi or sashimi, the sujihiki knife doesn't have to be used with fish. Gear Patrol even described the sujihiki as a less intimidating version of the yanagiba. According to the outlet, these knives are similar to Western carving knives. Per WebstaurantStore, you can use a sujihiki to carve boneless cuts of meat without friction. For a sujihiki knife, we recommend a product made by Masamoto.

Masamoto's 9.5-inch sujihiki knife is a quality choice for those wanting a Japanese-style carving knife. It comes with a double-beveled edge that's sharpened at a 70/30-angle, making it geared toward right-handed individuals. The knife is made with stainless steel and the handle is made of pakkawood, but it's more similar to a Western handle than a Japanese one. On the Rockwell scale, it has a hardness of 57.

Several Amazon users like Masamoto's right-handed sujihiki knife. One user said, "Holds an edge well. Easy to sharpen and maintain," while another said, "Will buy again." With over 150 years in the knife-making business, per Japanese Chef's Knife, you can trust that Masamoto knows what it's doing in making these products.

You can buy Masamoto's sujihiki knife on Amazon for $158.80 as of October 2022.

Best honesuki knife

Honesuki knives are a type of boning knife. As Chubo Knives explains, these Japanese tools are more triangular and stiff than their Western counterparts. You can use them for deboning poultry. There is usually more of an asymmetrical grind, making it similar to a single-bevel knife. For an excellent Japanese honesuki, look toward Misono.

We recommend Misono's honesuki knife (model number 541) from the brand's molybdenum steel series. This is one of Misono's most affordable lines, but knives within this category are still well-reviewed and use admirable materials. This particular honesuki knife has an asymmetrical 70/30 grind (for left-handed folks) and a 57 hardness factor (HRC). It is made with high-carbon stainless steel and has a pakkawood handle. In addition, this is a full-tang knife, meaning that the blade runs through the length of the handle (via Gear Patrol). Full-tang knives are preferable to some because they can be more balanced. However, they can also be heavier and more expensive than partial-tang knives.

On Amazon, there are not many reviews, but existing ones are positive. Some people liked the weightiness provided by this full-tang honesuki. "With some practice, you can almost wave it like a wand at whole chicken and scare them into an eight piece dinner," one customer said. Other people appreciated the sharpness. "Be super careful, this knife is no joke. It's ultra-sharp and robust," another person wrote.

You can buy Misono's honesuki knife on Amazon for $86.48 as of October 2022.

Best kiritsuke knife

There are a few different types of kiritsuke knives, but all of them come with a pointed tip. For this reason, sometimes other Japanese knives with the characteristic "k-tip" will be labeled as kiritsukes (via The Japanese Bar). Korin describes kiritsukes as multipurpose Japanese knives that can be used for different foods. No matter which kiritsuke you choose, this knife is for professionals. The subtle features imparted by this knife are not likely to be appreciated by the novice cook. For a good kiritsuke knife, choose Shun's classic one.

This product (model DM0771) is from Shun Cutlery's classic collection. As Knife Center explains, it has a symmetrical blade cut on a 16-degree angle, a traditional D-shaped pakkawood handle, and it's made in Japan. There is an outer coating of Damascus cladding on the knife, giving it a nice design. Even though it's recommended for professional cooks, this "master chef's knife" can be used for several different slicing and cutting tasks.

Shun's 8-inch kiritsuke classic collection knife has over 400 reviews on Amazon that average 4.8 out of 5 stars. People called it well-balanced, heavy, and sharp. "I am a serious home cook with over 10 years of past professional cooking experience. I have used many different knives, and while there are a lot of very good brands available, Shun has become my favorite," one person who favored Shun's kiritsuke said.

You can buy Shun's kiritsuke knife on Amazon for $179.95 as of October 2022.

Best pankiri knife

With Japanese cooking, it's not all fish and vegetables. A pankiri is simply a large serrated knife used for slicing bread. According to HDMD Knives, "pan" means bread, and "kiri" means slicer — so you can see how the name came about. These knives can also be used on soft fruits and vegetables. For an excellent pankiri knife, check out Kasumi's bread knife.

This serrated knife comes with a 10-inch blade, double-beveled grind, Damascus-clad steel, an asymmetrical handle, and a full tang. It's also authentic. This Kasumi product was produced at the Sumikama Cutlery in Seki, Japan. On Amazon, it's flying under the radar. But the few who've checked it out so far are liking it. "I am VERY glad I bought this knife ... If you can afford it, do not compromise. It is worth it," one person wrote. Another said it was great for slicing crusty artisan sourdough bread. "This knife just pressed right through the loaf with ease," they said.

You can buy Kasumi's 10-inch bread knife on Amazon for $148.49 as of October 2022.