A recipe for success of the famous Japanese knives is an unparalleled quality and impeccable performance. Today, when their popularity experiences a real boom, multiple manufacturers try hard to comply with the knife making standards adopted in Japan, while unconditionally recognizing this country as the market's flagship. But it is only the Japanese with their commitment to excellence who managed to achieve perfect results, organically combining both the ancient secrets of making weapons and the achievements of the cutting edge technologies.
The European knives are made of stainless steel that is surely less prone to corrosion and more flexible. However, it goes blunt faster and is not so hard as the Japanese VG-10 steel alloyed with chromium, molybdenum or cobalt. The hardness of the "European" is 56-58 HRC.
The European knives have a greater beveled angle than their Japanese counterparts - somewhere in the region of 20°. They are more suitable for cutting meat or dealing with solid foods, whereas the Japanese knives can cope with the finest work. The European knives have their point ascending to the spine, with the "Japanese" having their spine descending to the cutting edge.
Moreover, the "Europeans" are heavier, not so perfectly balanced, and less ergonomic. In fact, they have shorter service life.
Traditional Japanese Knives
When it comes to traditions, classical Japanese knives have long been items with a fairly wide multi-layered steel blade resembling a tree leaf (with very rare exceptions).
The massive spine significantly increased their functionality (in some cases it reached 1 cm): this knife could not only cut, but also cut through a bone or tenderize the meat. A thin and very sharp blade was perfectly suited even for the most filigree work. The Japanese knives used to have their handles equipped with a bolster made of wood only.
However, it was a single bevel grind that was considered their main feature. The use of the Japanese knife required ability of a high order, dexterity and skills, but the results were amazing as the knife could be sharpened both on the right or left hand side.
Modern Japanese Knives
Modern Japanese knives are unique tools by definition that embody the most significant strengths of ancient and innovative technologies, Western and Eastern traditions.
They have thinner spine, double bevel grind, as well as increased resistance to corrosion. However, the blade shape, the highest quality of both steel and finished products, impeccable sharpness, perfect balancing, ergonomics, and durability remained unaltered. In the long run, this historical legacy was inherited from their predecessors, and it was this combination of characteristics that changed drastically the conceptual views of the West about the fundamentals of knife making.
Today, the Japanese kitchen knives are both very light (much lighter than the European ones) and strong articles with a steel hardness of 58-61 HRC, although there are blades with even higher performance. The beveled angle (often performed manually) is 15-18°, with the blade easily penetrating any product.
The number of steel layers overlying a high-carbon core sometimes reaches several dozens: 67 for the Damascus series and 33 for the Sakai series. This greatly improves its strength and ductility, as well as helps preserve the tool's impeccable sharpness.
The blade geometry should not be left unmentioned. Each knife type (and there are dozens of them) has its shape typically based on its purpose, which is quite recognizable and traditional for the "Japanese": the same old wide leaf-shaped blade that differs markedly from the European counterparts.
With its blade combined with a convenient handle made of wood or special heat-resistant fiberglass, this knife is flawless both in terms of design and unique performance, which are yet to be surpassed by West European knives.
The Japanese kitchen knives are the highest examples of ancient crafts and are capable of providing the owner with a lifetime quality guarantee for every tool made in Japan.