So what are the main features of a traditional Japanese knife that make it so unique from all the others?
First of all, it's a massive spine and heel; on some knives it’s even up to 10mm. Then, a unique visual appearance combined with a one-sided grind from the left side as well as wooden handle with a black bolster. And lastly, is the impeccable blade sharpness made from high-quality steel. Frequently, the blade is made from two to three layers. The traditional Japanese knife has been made like this for many hundreds of years.
What are the differences between a modern Japanese knife and all the others on the market?
When in the second half of the XX century Japanese companies started to export the knives, they faced a challenge, because these kinds of knives were only evaluated by true Japanophiles, while housewives and chefs preferred classic European. Thus, they soon changed the approach and mixed the best European and Japanese qualities and came up with what we call a modern Japanese kitchen knife. The western part of it consists of a thin spine, metallic bolster, modern scales and stainless steel blade, while the eastern part comprises steel quality, perfect sharpening, knife design and build quality.
By the way, the Japanese were the ones who created a special steel for knifemaking. The most advanced are made of layered steel. The central layer is made of highly hardened steel while the sides are of wear-resistant low-carbon. In this form the knife became very popular. Now European companies are in need of creating knives at least visually similar to Japanese ones.