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The Top 10 Japanese Knives Brands
When it comes to getting kitchen supplies, a quality set of knives is on the top of every chef’s list. A good knife will make food prep a cinch. A bad one will potentially turn into a major hazard. The question is, how do you find a good brand? When it comes to knives, very few countries have a reputation for quality like Japan. Chefs all over the world choose Japanese brands because they’re great, but knowing which brands are the best of the best is what’s truly important.
To get the quality that you want, you should consider getting your next kitchen knife set from one of these brands based in Japan:
- Shun Cutlery
- Fujiwara Kanefusa
- Mizuno Tanrenjo
- Global Knife
- Mr. Itou
- MAC Knives
Did you ever wonder what it takes to make a knife company great in one of the strictest markets in the world? We decided to take a good look at what made each company rise to the top.
Table of Contents
- Why Are People Crazy About Japanese Knife Brands?
- What Are The Best Japanese Knife Brands?
- Related Questions
Why Are People Crazy About Japanese Knife Brands?
Japan is a country that is famous for its pride in manufacturing, often to the point that their attention to quality may seem obsessive. This is why Japanese cars are known for durability, why people prefer Japanese tech, and also why people go for Japanese knives if they can help it. Or rather, that’s the simplest explanation for this phenomenon.
The deeper explanation deals with Japanese culture. Japan has a certain reverence for making knives and swords going back to the Middle Ages. A carefully crafted Japanese sword wasn’t just a status symbol for the person who wielded it. It was a mark of honor for the people who made it, too. That care held on for ages, as did the techniques.
How good you were at your knife craft translated into social status. The end result was an entire culture in the knife industry dedicated to making a name of yourself through workmanship. Today, the industry is famous for having manufacturers actively try to outdo others through unique processes, materials, and techniques.
If you want to invest in a good knife, there are few ways to do it that would be better than trusting a Japanese manufacturer. They’re all about that knife life.
What Are The Best Japanese Knife Brands?
Trying to find a quality knife isn’t just a status symbol among chefs. It’s a good way to lay out the foundation of your cooking time. These below are the ones that you should consider getting if you want to get the most from your investment.
Ooh, this is ritzy if we’ve ever seen it. With a knife catalog topping over 600 models ranging from the single specialty knife to the multipurpose, Yoshihiro is one of the most prolific companies in Japan. Their knives are handmade by artisans from Suminagashi blue (or white) steel in most cases, giving them an edge that even Derek Zoolander can’t attain. Some are also made of Damascus steel-style material. Wow!
Their knives come with excellent guarantees as well as a bottle of Tsubaki oil to help sharpen them. If you use them well, they can last for a lifetime or more. Yoshihiro is also remarkably exclusive. They only sold their knives in Japan up until 2008. Now, they can also be found in Beverly Hills.
2. Shun Cutlery
A staple among the Williams Sonoma fans like myself, Shun is a name that’s practically synonymous with quality. Most of their knives are made from a hammered steel alloy that keeps them sharper for longer. What many chefs find interesting about this type of knife is the fact that they almost always come with a light build. In other words, they’re easier to maneuver.
Every single knife that is made from Shun comes with lifetime sharpening services that are provided directly from the company. This makes them a great knife company for people who want to wow others and also carefully craft their meals. Seki City can definitely say they’re proud to be the hometown of this company!
3. Fujiwara Kanefusa
Fujiwara Kanefusa is a name that has been around in Japan since the 13th century. Originally a family-owned business making swords, the Fujiwara company now makes traditional knives for culinary masterpieces. As you can imagine, the name alone brings about imagery of feudal Japan. It’s a beautiful thing, really.
Much of the knives that the Fujiwara company makes are infused with the technology inherited from their original company purpose. Despite the ancient age of Fujiwara as a company, the knives they make are relatively affordable. This makes them a great pick for casual cooks who still want quality.
If you are looking for a way to make sure that your knives stay sharp but want to get something more affordable, it might make sense to get Yaxell into your collection. This company has been serving restaurants and households since 1932. Since its inception, the company became famous for using excellent, cutting-edge techniques to make its cutlery rock.
Each of their knives is made with world-class materials that are often hard to source. Because they focus on keeping things sharp, you can expect high-quality steel in every knife you buy. As a more modern Japanese knife company, you can still see the tradition that comes in every cut.
If you know anything about knife culture in Japan, then you probably should be aware that Masamoto is not just a brand. It’s *the* brand. As in, most other knife companies try to mimic their wild success. What makes them so popular? Well, there’s a lot of history in this brand.
Known for being iconic and producing knife types exclusive to Japan, Masamoto is most commonly associated with Japanese culinary feats. The techniques they use make the knife sharper and sharper after every single sharpening. This makes every knife super long-lasting. Oh, and they also look good.
Along with the techniques and material used in the knifemaking process, Masamoto is also known for their high status. Most top chefs and celebrity chefs from Japan own a full set. So, if you want to follow in the footsteps of people like Chef Nobu, chances are that you should start stocking up on Masamotos.
Now that we have gone over Masamoto, it’s time to take a look at its sister company, Misono. As we mentioned before, Masamoto is mostly dedicated to knives that are made in traditional Japanese styles. Misono, on the other hand, is a company that uses Masamoto’s methods to make knives that have a more Western touch to things.
Though they are more Western, make no mistake about it. The quality remains the same. If you want to get an American-style knife that was made with Japanese-style techniques, then Misono is the name you’re going to want to search up. With that said, people who have a keen eye for knives will recognize the brand’s status immediately.
7. Mizuno Tanrenjo
In Japan, most of the best quality knife companies are not large-scale manufacturing circuits. Rather, they are owned by families and practice artisan knife crafting. Such is the case with Mizuno. Each knife is crafted by an artisan who is trained in Japanese sword-making methods. Their artisan house is so well-regarded, it’s been turned into a World Heritage site.
The kitchen knives made here have gotten the seal of approval from the Japanese Imperial family and are made with the greatest care. Over 150 years of work have been put into this company’s evolution. You can definitely feel it at first slice. Besides, Mizuno’s dark steel sets look impressive, even if you don’t know much about knife craftsmanship.
8. Global Knife
Out of all the Japanese knife brands that we’ve covered so far, Global is the only one that we can say is truly modern in both name and behavior. Made in 1985, Global is a company dedicated to creating knives with unlimited budgets and insane standards. One of their knives, for example, has 50 different functions in a typical kitchen. This makes them one of the top universal knife makers in the world, let alone Japan.
So far, Global knives have been ordered in over 95 countries—a nod to how popular these knives really are. While they are not quite as famous as names like Misono or Masamoto, the truth is that you can’t ignore that level of success. It’s just that good a company and we expect to see more of this name in headlines soon enough.
9. Mr. Itou
There are knives that are made for beauty, knives made for function, and knives made for both. Mr. Itou knives are some of the rare ones that are made for both. Considered to be a high luxury brand by people throughout Japan, Mr. Itou is a company that made its name through the creation of quality Damascus steel-style knives with statement handles.
I mean, look at the handles. Really look at them.
Each of the handles in a Mr. Ito knife is unique and handcrafted, made with rare materials that are chosen for their beauty. This is the company that will make a handle for a knife out of rare seashells, beautiful stones, and more. Better still, the handles are smooth to the touch and retain their luster beautifully.
10. MAC Knives
Are you looking for a modern knife that is still made with an exceptional level to detail? Buy a MAC knife. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make sure that you get the knife you want at the quality that you want. MAC is a more modern Japanese knife brand, but don’t make any assumptions based on the age of the brand yet.
These knives are totally unique in their design, primarily due to their edge. The edge is slightly off-centered and at a 45-degree angle. This gives you a one-of-a-kind cut that’s easier to use in a fast-paced kitchen. Though this is a brand that’s known for having the logo stamped on rather than etched on, MAC knives remain incredibly popular when it comes to their brand. Over 25 million have been sold so far.
Where are Japanese knives made?
Though there are no mandates on where they can be made, there are multiple cities in Japan that are famous for their knife manufacturing companies. These include Seki, Echizen, Honshu, and Sakai. Unlike other products you might find from other countries, Japan is very strict about having their products made in-country.
So, if you were worried about the knives being made in a large-scale factory in China, don’t worry. Japan doesn’t allow for that kind of misstep. If you are curious about the city where knives are made, you can always search for the company online. They’ll tell you where they are headquartered.
Is it cheaper to buy Japanese knives in Japan or the United States?
If you are trying to buy a Japanese knife brand stateside, prepare to pay far more than what people would pay in Japan. The reasons for this are manifold. The transportation of knives adds a small upcharge, as does foreign exchange rates, and the same can be said for the markup that companies need to make to break even.
Of course, there is also something to be said about the quality of the knives. Sellers here know that, which means that they often have a hefty markup.
Which is better, a German knife or a Japanese knife?
Japanese knives are able to hold an edge better than German knives and are generally made from harder materials. Since they are made from more durable material, Japanese knives are generally seen as the better pick between the two. With that said, brand and the method of manufacturing matter, too.
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