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Best Japanese knives to sharpen up your chopping skills

If your current knives aren’t cutting it (literally) when preparing your family meals, it may be time to upgrade to some Japanese knives in your kitchen. Here are the ones worth investing in.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Aug 11, 2022

Best Japanese Knives

Chances are, if you have your own home, you’ll have amassed quite a collection of knives in your kitchen over the years. From a serrated bread knife to the old faithful chef’s knife that you bring out when preparing all your family’s meals, you may even have a number of others that sit gathering dust at the back of your knife block or kitchen drawer. We can all be guilty of not giving our knives the attention they deserve and unless you sharpen them regularly, they don’t always slice as efficiently as they should.

When it comes to extra sharp kitchen knives that can glide through your ingredients and make food preparation almost pleasurable, Japanese knives come with a great reputation and are highly recommended on the Mumsnet forums and on retailer sites. 

Compared to traditional German knives, which are ideal for chopping tough robust vegetables, potatoes and meat, Japanese knives tend to be sharper, finer and more suited to fruit, vegetables, soft meat and fish. 

Whether it's a Japanese knife for beginners, a carbon steel knife or even a traditional option, we’ve done our research on the most highly commended and best rated ones you can buy today. 

Here are the best Japanese knives you can buy in 2022.

1. Best overall Japanese knife: Global G-2 20cm Cook's Knife, Cromova 18

Global G2 Cooks Knife 20 cm blade

Price: £99.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“I got a set of Global knives for my birthday. It’s revolutionised my cooking, they’re wonderful.” (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user FelicityBeedle)

“I’ve been using the same set of Global knives for 15 years and they are as good as new and cut beautifully. They are also weighted really well.” (Brand rated by Mumsnet user SlightyJaded

Whilst the thought of spending £100 on a single knife might be enough to make your eyes water, you certainly get what you pay for with the Global G-2 Cook's Knife - it’s clear to see why it’s won dozens of awards. 

Made from ultra-hard high carbon stainless steel that is resistant to stains, corrosion or rust, this lightweight 20cm all-purpose blade can slice, dice and chop pretty much any ingredient, whilst the sand-weighted hollow handle feels impressive and well balanced in your hand. 

Unlike many German knives that have a bevelled edge, the Global G-2 has an acute 15 degree cutting angle, which not only glides through food with ease but will stay sharper for longer too. Global claim that their knives retain their edge longer than any other major brand on the market. 

2. Best budget Japanese knives: ProCook Japanese Knife Set

ProCook Japanese Knife Set

Price: £20 | Buy now from ProCook

“We've used ProCook Japanese knives for years and they really are excellent. They sharpen very well and have never broken or discoloured, unlike others I have had.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user delilahbucket)

Excellent value and a great option for those considering the switch to Japanese knives but not willing to risk the higher price tag, the ProCook Japanese Knife set costs just £20 for not one, not two, but four Japanese knives. 

This budget-friendly Japanese knife set includes a vegetable slicer, chef's knife, santoku knife and carving knife.

With a unique design made from high-quality stainless steel and holes along the blade to help release the food as you slice, these knives have carved wooden handles that feel robust and sturdy, despite the low price tag, although it’s worth noting that they won’t be quite as impressive as the more high ticket options.

3. Best quality Japanese knife: MAC Knife Series 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

Mac Knife Series 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

Price: £177.79 | Shop MAC knives from Amazon here

“Get a MAC knife - they are truly AMAZING! Hold the edge well, sharpen beautifully and are stunning to chop with. I was a Global addict until I bought my first MAC!" (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user TeddyIsaHe)

“I’m a chef by trade and use MAC knives usually.” (Given the seal of approval by Mumsnet user MustardScreams

A popular choice for professional chefs and those in the trade, the MAC 8-inch Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife is made from high carbon steel which is extra fine, razor sharp, holds its edge well and easy to sharpen if required over time.

Tapered along the spine with a 15 degree blade angle, it can work through fruits, vegetables and proteins on your chopping board with minimal effort, and it has a balanced weight distribution that makes it comfortable to hold no matter how significant your food prep.

The wood-effect handle is made from Pakkawood which, whilst it looks and feels like natural wood, will last much longer, helping make the MAC knife a worthy investment that will stand the test of time.

4. Best traditional Japanese knife: Kai Shun Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife

Shun Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife

Price: £194.95 | Shop Kai Shun knives from Amazon here

“The Japanese brand Shun ones are good but you can't put them in the dishwasher so a little bit of faff involved.” (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user Blondie1984)

If you want your knives to be as stunning as they are sharp, the traditional-style Kai Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife is just that – handcrafted in Japan, each knife is completely unique thanks to the Damascus steel, which has a wavy pattern running throughout.

Inspired by ancient Samurai swords, the Kai Shun Classic has a hard steel blade that is resistant to corrosion with an ultra-sharp edge that will glide even through tougher meat or vegetables. The oval divots along the blade create pockets of air as you slice, which helps reduce friction and prevent food sticking or catching as you cut. 

The ebony PakkaWood handle is not only D-shaped to ergonomically fit in your hand, but it is also well weighted and reinforced with resin, so it’s water resistant and won't bend, warp or split. 

It comes with a high price tag, so you’re going to want to take good care of it. Due to its fine blade, it’s recommended for use on wooden chopping boards only and should be hand washed and dried immediately after use. Never be tempted to put it in the dishwasher! 

5. Best carbon steel Japanese knife: I.O.Shen 5132 High Carbon Stainless Steel Utility Knife

I.O Shen High Carbon Stainless Steel Knife

Price: £94 | Shop I.O.Shen knives from Amazon here

“I've got I.O.Shen. I love them, they're beautiful and razor sharp, as my poor fingers will attest!” (Rated by Mumsnet user Rapidash)

Another stylish-looking knife to consider is the I.O.Shen High Carbon Stainless Steel Knife, which comes with a traditional Japanese design and handle detailing.

With an ultra-sharp and wide blade, the I.O.Shen is not only ideal for dicing, cubing and slicing but also for ‘rock chopping’, finely mincing herbs or zest to add to your dishes. The hard, wide side of the blade can crush garlic in seconds, whilst the tapered blade edge can even tackle harder vegetables. 

Again, it needs close care and attention – do not use in the dishwasher or leave in water on the draining board as, if you do, you will invalidate the lifetime guarantee. 

6. Best Japanese knife for beginners: MIYABI 18cm SANTOKU Knife 5000 FC-D

MIYABI 18cm SANTOKU Knife 5000 FC-D

Price: £209.95 | Buy now from Onbuy.com

“MIYABI knives. You only need three or four plus an appropriate sharpener.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user jaundicedoutlook

If you’re new to Japanese knives or left-handed, you may find it challenging to get to grips with their unique style, weighting and the chopping motion required (rather than the rocking movement you may be familiar with using European knives). 

The MIYABI 5000 FC-D Santoku knife is a great place to start, with a hard and sharp cabide steel 18cm blade that offers a great multi-purpose knife suitable for meat, fish and vegetables. With 48 outer layers of steel and a Damascus pattern, the blade is sharpened on both sides (as opposed to single bevel) so it works symmetrically and perfectly well, even for those who are left-handed. Unfortunately, you pay a premium for the luxury, with a fairly hefty price tag of over £200. 

The MIYABI knives should be hand washed with care and sharpened with a whetstone when required. It's also recommend you avoid using on glass, ceramic or stone chopping boards as this could dull the blade.

7. Best all-purpose Japanese knife: Niwaki Carbon Japanese Knife

Niwaki Carbon Japanese Knife

Price: From £89 | Buy now from Niwaki

“I've got the Niwaki one. It's brilliant.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user RoobyMyrtle)

“Another vote for Niwaki. Bloody love ours.” (Rated by Mumsnet user MrsBertBibby)

Niwaki Japanese knives are some of the finest kitchen knives, with white paper steel blades that can tackle the majority of your food prep including chopping, dicing and mincing requirements (with the exception of bones). 

A popular choice with Japanese chefs, they are well weighted for perfect balance, and with their stocky walnut wood handles, they’ll look impressive in your kitchen too.

Niwaki knives probably need the most attention and care of all the knives featured – the steel blades will oxidise and rust if not looked after properly – and they need to be hand washed and handled just like you would your favourite glassware. Wiping with Camellia oil between uses can help prolong their life too. 

8. Best long-lasting Japanese knife: Tojiro DP 8.2 inches Gyutou knife

Tojiro DP 8.2 inches Gyutou knife

Price: £120 | Buy now from Knives for Chefs

When you buy a Japanese knife from a retailer called Knives for Chefs, you can be fairly confident that it comes well regarded in the industry.

The Tojiro DP knife series is described as being one of the Japanese knife ranges that offers the best value for money. 

With a VG10 core steel cutting core and a stain-resistant blade, Tojiro knives are super sharp and will hold their edge for long periods of time without needing to be sharpened regularly. 

The design of the handle may not be as stylish as other Japanese knives on the market, but it's made from reinforced eco-friendly wood and has been thoroughly tested and built to last. It's recommended as an essential knife for any chef or amateur cook to use for mincing and chopping.

Are Japanese kitchen knives good?

In a word, yes. Whilst they may set you back significantly more than traditional European knives, Japanese knives are usually razor sharp and good quality knives that are built to last the test of time. They are also usually well balanced with a weighted handle but overall lightweight design, and have a thin blade that will have you squabbling over who gets to prep dinner. 

They do require looking after however. You can’t just throw them into your cutlery drawer as the blades can shatter or chip, and you should wash and dry them immediately after use and never leave them sitting in water on the draining board. Given what you’ve paid for them, it’s important to treat them with care. 

Are Japanese knives better than German knives?

Whilst both are high-quality knives for your kitchen, the preference of which is better will come down to personal choice.

In terms of their ability to slice quickly and efficiently, Japanese knives tend to be sharper and hold their blades well. That said, they are thinner and need to be looked after more and generally aren't suitable for use in the dishwasher. 

German knives are more bulky and robust and can handle more complex or challenging slicing tasks, but they do require sharpening regularly to keep the blades sharp. 

How do you care for your Japanese knife?

Most Japanese knives are made from stainless or carbon steel which is generally resistant to rusting as long as it's cared for. Resistant is the key word here, however, so it’s important to follow the care recommendations from the brand.

Most Japanese knives recommend washing by hand and never in the dishwasher due to the delicate nature of the sharp, fine blade. You should dry it immediately after washing to ensure the knife doesn't sit in water, as this could also risk warping or damaging the wooden handles or affect the weighing of the knife. 

How do you sharpen a Japanese knife?

Most Japanese knives don't need sharpening as regularly as their European counterparts, however, the best way to sharpen one when you need to is using a whetstone, which will effectively sharpen both the blade and tip of your knife. 

How do you use a Japanese knife?

With care! Japanese knives are sharp, so pay attention and concentrate. Most chefs recommend holding Japanese knives with a pinch grip, pinching the very base of the blade and lying your hand back on the handle to find the perfect weight and alignment. 

When cutting, hold the hand supporting the food like a claw, tucking your fingers in whilst using your knuckle as a guide. This will ensure you don’t chop your fingers as well as your veg. 

Use a wooden chopping board with a chopping motion (as opposed to dragging your knife across the board), as this will help prolong the sharpness and life of the blade. 

How we chose our recommendations

Products tried and tested by real Mumsnet users

Mumsnet users certainly know their way around the kitchen and the Mumsnet forums are full of debates about the best tools for the job. When it comes to Japanese knives, Mumsnetters had lots of advice and suggestions about the products they would recommend.

Firstly, we sought out the trusted opinions of our users and gathered their feedback on their favourite Japanese knives and the products that they rate, recommend and use in their own kitchens. We also considered any posts in the forums that highlighted Japanese knives that had disappointed; knives that were poor quality, difficult to clean or Mumsnetters found simply didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by professional chefs, restaurants or culinary experts. 

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best knives on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, ProCook and Knives for Chefs to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist. 

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

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