Japanese knives are known for being some of the best cooking tools in the world. Chefs and home cooks alike agree that their dedication to quality and craftsmanship makes them well worth the price tag, though there are plenty of affordable options out there, too. Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect chef’s knife or need a special blade for slicing meat and fish, this is some of the best Japanese cutlery on the market right now.
Note: Many of these knives are made with carbon steel, which requires extra care to avoid staining and rusting. Make sure to read up carefully on the care instructions when purchasing one of these blades to ensure it has a long life in your kitchen.
Aritsugu Aoko Betsuuchi Yanagi Knife ($300)
Aritsugu is one of the oldest knife shops in Japan—they started out making swords for the Imperial Family in 1560. This Yanagi knife is handcrafted by forging carbon steel with iron, which creates a knife that is less brittle and easier to sharpen. It’s ideal for slicing raw fish, carving meat or cutting vegetables into paper-thin slices. If you happen to visit Kyoto, make sure to check out the shop in Nishiki Market where you can have this knife custom-engraved with purchase.
Yoshihiro Aoko Petty Japanese Utility Chef Knife ($100)
This do-it-all knife is great for chopping vegetables, mincing garlic, and everything in-between. The inner core is forged with carbon steel and finished with two layers of stainless steel on the outside. Not only does the hammered texture look beautiful, it creates friction so food sticks to the blade less.
Masahiro 14904 MVH Utility Knife ($88)
As one of the most prestigious Japanese knife brands, you can’t go wrong with a Masahiro. The blade is asymmetrical—80 percent of the cutting edge is on the front side of the knife, which gives you the power to make more precise cuts. The ergonomical laminated wood handle makes this lightweight 6-inch knife as durable as it is user-friendly.
Takamura HSPS Pro Honesuki Knife ($290)
This knife is designed with a High Speed Powdered Steel (HSPS) core, which is an extraordinarily hard material that’s used to make tools like drills and power saws. For the true meat enthusiast, the blade’s pointed tip makes it ideal for running along cartilage, bones, and joints when breaking down larger cuts of meat. Takamura knives have extremely sharp edges, so be sure your knife skills are advanced before purchasing this blade.
Misono Molybdenum Paring Utility Knife ($59)
Misono is known for their high-quality knives that are a perfect hybrid of Japanese and Western-style cutlery. This paring knife has a thin, lightweight blade that’s perfect for everything from de-veining shrimp to removing the seeds from a chili pepper. For a tool that you’ll likely use every day, you can’t beat the price of this kitchen essential.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in all its forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series will not only inform, but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.