Best Japanese Knife Sets in 2023

During my testing process, I got the beauty and precision of the best Japanese knife sets, as well as the quality of the cuts they produce, makes them highly coveted. When you don’t take care of them properly, their blades are prone to breaking, so they’re not ideal for clumsy chefs. In a five-star sushi restaurant, they would use them to make thin, precise cuts and beautiful presentations.

Vincent Lau owns Korin, a Japanese knife store in lower Manhattan, where he sharpens knives himself. As an integral part of Japanese cuisine, Japanese knives enhance and preserve the ingredients and accentuate flavors.

We have been testing kitchen essentials, such as bread knives, chef’s knives, electric knives, butcher knives, etc., for over a century in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Kitchen Appliances and Technologies Lab.

Each knife has been tested on cutting performance and edge retention after chopping through different foods, from carrots to medium-firm cheese that sticks, and even parsley that bruises easily.

A dull knife can’t cut onions evenly into even pieces like ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. So we test soft foods that are easy to squish. Because your knife should be able to deal with raw chicken and cooked meat, too. The handle and grip are also important, along with performance.

Here are our favorite best Japanese knive sets, based on testing and pro picks:

  • Best Overall Japanese Knife: Shun Classic 8
  • Best Value Japanese Knife: Global 8-inch, 20 cm Chef’s Knife
  • Longest-Lasting Japanese Knife: Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife
  • Sturdiest Japanese Knife: KUMA 8-inch Chef Knife
  • Best Japanese Knife for Cutting Vegetables: Mac MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

How do Japanese knives compare to German knives?

Knives made in Japan tend to be lighter and sharper than those made in Germany. Due to their thinness, Japanese knives tend to be more prone to breaking or chipping, so they require more maintenance.

Knives made from Japanese steel are thin, light, and are great for slicing fish or cutting vegetables. Sushi is one of the best examples, according to Lau. In order to differentiate a good sushi chef from a mediocre one, you have to pay attention to the freshness of the ingredients and how you prepare them.

German knives, on the other hand, will usually be heavy and bulky, but they’re more sturdy and sharp, giving them a better edge retention. You can break down chicken with German knives. The best knife depends on your needs and preferences.

Which Japanese knife is the best?

Japanese knives are best when they work for you. Before recommending knives to his customers, Lau asks them what they intend to use them for. Home cooks typically use their knives only for about twenty minutes a day, while professional chefs use their knives for up to 40 hours per week.

Professional chefs should therefore use knives with heavy-duty blades and better edge retention, such as the Korin Special Orange Handle knives.

According to Lau, Japanese sushi chefs are fond of “yanagis.” A single-edge blade is featured on these traditional Japanese slicers. The most clean cuts can be achieved with single-edge knives, as opposed to double edge knives that have a double edge.

“A knife that cannot be sharpened is just a useless piece of metal,” Lau says of kitchen knives for home chefs.

It’s a great idea to pick a knife from the Suisin brand like the Inox Honyaki. Additionally, Lau suggests holding the knife to feel whether it feels right for you apart from its ease of sharpening. A knife’s handle shape and heft are important factors to consider.

1. SHUN Classic 8-inch Knife

You can feel the solidity and durability of a good knife in your hand. A good grip is encouraged and the handle rests comfortably in the palm. Despite its lightweight, it’s heavy enough to slice meat and vegetables as well.

All of these details can be found in the Shun Classic 8-inch Chef Knife. Featuring a Pakka Wood handle and a very sharp edge, it is a great tool for any job. A blade of VG-MAX steel coated with a Damascus steel surface is manufactured by Shun.

Since we have been using ours without sharpening for years, we can attest to its precision cuts and edge retention. 

2. GLOBAL 8-inch Chef’s Knife

When you pick up a Global knife, you’ll notice the blade is thinner than other brands because it’s made from a single piece of stainless steel. With a thinner bolster (the part of a knife where the blade meets the handle), the 8-inch Chef’s Knife’s blade seems proportionally wider than other Japanese knives.

It’s good for hacking through meat, even if the bottom seems unfinished with its sharp edge. You don’t have to worry about slips with the dimpled handle, and it’s filled with sand for extra balance. The sand doesn’t move around when you cut.

3. MIYABI 34373-203 Chef’s Knife

When compared to other handles such as stainless steel or dark wood, Masur Birch handles stand out. As well as being gorgeous, this Miyabi knife feels great in the hand thanks to its soft, smooth wood handle.

Featuring a stunning floral damask pattern, the light, marbled color compliments the steel blade. With 100 layers of two different steels surrounding a powder steel core, the blade maintains its edge for a very long time.

4. KUMA 8-inch Chef Knife

Its thin blade is perfect for slicing delicate meat or vegetables with the KUMA 8-inch Chef’s Knife. High carbon steel has 67 layers, making it durable and chip-resistant. In the hand, the handle feels very strong and sturdy, with a slight bevel.

Additionally, it has a good balance and a full tang (the blade runs through the handle). Hand-finishing ensures sharp edges right out of the box with KUMA knives.

5. MAC KNIFE MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

Its lightweight and sharpness have been praised by online reviewers. To make it easier to glide through sticky foods, such as potatoes, the blade has dimples near the edge.

It is easy and enjoyable to cut vegetables with the Mac MTH-80. The high-carbon, aluminum alloy blade should be hand washed and dried immediately, as is recommended for most knives.


How good are Japanese knife sets?

Many people view knife sets as investments: A good knife set can last a lifetime. There is no doubt that Japanese knives are known for their sharpness, precision, and quality. Japanese knife sets come with a variety of sharp and versatile knives that are ideal for everyday cooking.

Which knife is preferred by chefs, German or Japanese?

Generally, German knives are heavier, so they use the weight of the knife to do the work, even though they may not have an extremely sharp edge. German knives are heavier, so chefs who are used to using them prefer heavier knives.

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