Knives Used in Japanese Cooking: A Guide

Knives are one of the critical tools used in the kitchen. They are used to cut ingredients into the desired sizes and shapes. Various types of knives are used in the kitchen, each for a different purpose. Japanese knives are well known for their strength and sharpness. They are made using the highest quality materials and are durable. Handmade Japanese knives are perfect for the kitchen because the artisans handcraft them. The knives are lightweight and made of hard, thin, and sharp steel. Chefs worldwide prefer these knives because there is a perfect balance between the handle and the blade. They are more elegant than European knives and allow chefs to make precise cuts.

Types of Japanese knives


Petty knives are small, and their blades are 12 to 16 cm long. Chefs use these knives to peel and slice fruits and vegetables and cut meat and fish into small pieces. These knives are used in the kitchen by new and experienced chefs.


The Santoku knife is a general-purpose knife whose blade length is 13 to 20 cm. They are used for chopping, dicing, slicing, and mincing. The knives are made of thinner and harder steel with a broad sheepsfoot blade.


Gyuto is similar to the Western chef’s knife and used for cutting fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits. These knives were initially made for slicing beef. Gyuto knives have a pointed tip with a sharp edge and are used for mincing.


A Kiritsuke knife is a slicing knife used to slice fish and vegetables. It has an angled top and is used only by executive chefs because it is difficult to handle the knife. Only experienced chefs use it for slicing.


Sujihiki is a carving knife perfect for carving meat or filleting fish. The knife has a short height that creates less friction while cutting. It helps to carve fish and meat easily. The long and narrow blade helps to trim away fat. 


Yanagi is a sushi knife used by chefs around the world to cut precise slices of sushi and sashimi. The long blade is perfect for cutting large fish fillets into thin slices by applying minimal pressure.


The Takobiki knife is similar to the Yanagi knife but has a blunt and square tip. It is a long slicing knife used for slicing octopus and eel. The blade is lighter, thinner, and flatter and helps to cut through dense flesh easily.


Deba knives are heavier than most Japanese knives and great for butchering poultry and cutting whole fish. The knife is known for the spine’s thickness and the blade’s weight. It is used to cut through bones and joints.


Honesuki is a Japanese boning knife with a thin angled tip that helps navigate the joints. The blade is strong enough to crack through cartilage and small bones. The knives help to break and debone poultry.


Usuba knife has a sharp and thin blade and is used for cutting fruits and vegetables. Chefs use it to cut thin slices of vegetables needed to make sushi rolls. The thin blade causes minimum damage to the fruits and vegetables. 

Cooking Japanese food is easy when chefs use handmade Japanese knives. These knives cut meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables in the desired shapes and sizes. Chefs all over the world prefer Japanese knives because they are stronger. They are made of durable stainless steel that makes them last longer.

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