The Difference Between Japanese and Western Knives

Posted by Amanda Delatorre on

In the last few decades, Japanese knives have risen in popularity amongst professional chefs and home cooks.   Even well-known German and French producers have started launching Japanese made or inspired lines. So what makes Japanese knives so much better?  

Blade Features

Japanese knives tend to have very thin blades, that are able to get extremely sharp and stay that way for a long time. These features are the main reason Japanese knives are preferred by people that spend a lot of time cooking.  In professional kitchens, it is critical that knives are not only durable but also extremely precise.



Thanks to the thinner blade, Japanese knives tend to be more lightweight and very well balanced.  Different craftsmen use different types of handles and you can find knives with handles similar to their French and German counterparts.  Many makers use traditional wood handles that are round, D-shaped, octagonal or other variations. These designs allow great flexibility of cutting angle and approach.


Steel Hardness

Generally, Japanese knives are made with steel blends that are harder than the softer stainless steel used in many European knives.  This is the reason they are able to get so sharp and hold an edge longer. For this reason, Japanese blades should be sharpened on a whetstone only. 



Many Japanese knives now have a 50/50 edge balance suitable to both right or left-handed usage.  Historically, traditional Japanese knife making was an extension of sword crafting. Japanese swords were made with the cutting edge on only one side.  This style translated to the blades made for cooking as well. Although some specific traditional knife styles such as the Yanagi for slicing raw fish or the Usuba for cutting vegetables still have only one edge, many contemporary knife styles feature a 70/30  balance for steeper cutting angles.


Please contact Chubo Knives for help selecting a superior Japanese kitchen knife.

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