Santoku vs nakiri, gyutou vs sujihiki, miyabi vs shun knives. Japanese knives have continuously proven to be one of the most indispensable tools you could have in your kitchen.
Why are Japanese knives so popular? Is it because of Japanese craftsmanship? Or is it because of the materials they use to produce these knives?
We’ll try to dive deeper into the world of Japanese knives and determine once and for all why they are one of the most popular knives out there.
Why Are Japanese Knives so Popular?
No chef or anyone who loves to cook worth their salt can deny that Japanese knives are often superior to other knife breeds. Some people may not use them for personal reasons, but they’d still acknowledge the level of craftsmanship that went into making Japanese knives.
This brings forth the question of what makes this type of knife special. We took it upon ourselves to answer this question.
A Better Steel
One of the main differences between Japanese and Western knives is the material. While both use steel, Japanese knives are made with higher-quality material.
Western-style knives often use steel with around 0.5% carbon content. On the other hand, Japanese knives use steel with twice as much carbon content.
Thus, Japanese knives are significantly harder than western-style knives.
Another reason Japanese knives are highly regarded in the food production industry is their sharpness. That’s because of the angle of the knife’s edge.
Western-style knives often have a sharpened edge with an angle of 15 degrees on each side of the knife. Sometimes, the angle reaches up to 20 degrees to maintain the knife’s structure.
Since Japanese knives use a stronger and harder type of steel, they can have a lower angle than this, sometimes reaching around eight degrees. Hence, Japanese knives are almost always sharper than western-style knives.
Sharpness or edge retention is another strong point of Japanese knives. It is perhaps one of the main reasons people opt for this type of knives.
Japanese knives don’t wear down or chip quickly, thanks to the high-carbon steel used in their production. That means that even if you have a western-style and a Japanese knife with the same edge angle, the latter is still superior because of how much longer it will stay sharp.
A Finer Cut
A western-style knife almost always uses two bevels, while a Japanese knife uses one. Ergo, a western-style knife with an eight-degree angle on one side, will have 16 degrees.
On the other hand, a Japanese knife only has one angle, so an eight-degree angled edge would have a flat backside. With this single-bevel design, Japanese knives don’t crush or grind the food with their edges. Instead, they cut them finely and precisely.
This may sound surprising, considering Japanese knives are harder and more durable than Western knives.
Genius artisans from Japan figured one thing out. If the blade is hard enough to resist damage, then there’s no need for it to be thick. Japanese knives use thinner blades compared to western-style knives, so they get to reduce their weights while still being durable.
You have to admit. The way the knife looks also affects your decision on whether or not you should buy it. You want something that will enhance the visual appeal of your kitchen, and that’s not something to be ashamed of.
Thankfully, Japanese knives are not just about sharpness and durability but also beauty. Japanese knives often have patterns, lines, and circles along the blade, forming while forging the steel. On top of this, their handles, usually made of wood, complete their elegant looks.
Are Japanese Knives Worth Your Money?
Popularity is not the only reason to buy a knife. It would be best to consider multiple things to get the bang for your buck.
It’s important to note that because of their hardness, Japanese knives are more difficult to sharpen than western-style knives. Japanese knives also sometimes contain little to no chromium, a rust-resistant layer on the blade. Thus, they might be more prone to corrosion.
With all that said, are they worth your money? If you know how to take care of knives and you don’t mind the extra hard work when sharpening them, Japanese knives are the best knives you could have in your kitchen.
The Indisputable Japanese Knife
Why are Japanese knives so popular? Well, Japanese knives will undoubtedly bring countless benefits when preparing your food. Still, keep in mind that they also have their weaknesses.
Their sharpness, quality, and level of craftsmanship have propelled them to global popularity, but in the end, how you handle them matters most. Ensure you know how to use and take care of them to maximize their potential.