Japanese knives and Western knives Photo: iStock: gyro

Sharpen up: Hone your knowledge of Japanese cooking knives

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By Alexandra Ziminski

Are you looking for a unique and high-quality gift for a special someone, or are you simply looking to expand your growing knife collection? Either way, you may be finding the world of Japanese knives a little overwhelming and confusing, so let’s get right to the point.

As the weapon of choice in many professional kitchens worldwide, these chef’s blades are reliable, precise and—of course—satisfyingly sharp. But what sets apart the general-purpose kitchen knife from a sushi knife? And why shouldn’t you use a vegetable knife to fillet a fish?

Let’s answer these questions and help you sheath your worries once and for all.

Japanese vs. Western knives

So what distinguishes a Japanese knife from a Western one?

Like the katana (Japanese single-edged sword), the modern-day Japanese knife has the reputation of being exquisitely honed and made from enduring high-quality steel.

Compared to its Western counterpart, this superior sharpness is most likely due to the traditional Japanese knives’ single-bevel edge. One side of the blade is concave at a slight angle while the other sits straight, creating a sharper edge that’s perfect for uninterrupted slicing.

However, not all Japanese knives are the same. Double-bevel blades (where the sides meet) grew popular after Western cuisine entered Japan. These became the all-purpose chef’s knife in Japan and are equivalent to a typical European chef’s knife.

You may also see many wa, or traditional Japanese wooden handles, in your search. The grip is vital when choosing a knife as it changes the balance and weight of the tool. Moreover, the handle makes the blade lighter and more front-loaded, revolutionizing how you use your knife.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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"Are you looking for a unique and high-quality gift for a special someone..."

It's bad luck to give a knife or scissors in Japan.

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