Why Are Japanese Knives So Sought After?

Japanese knives are some of the most sought-after in the world. They have a reputation for being razor-sharp, exceptionally high-quality, and made from extremely durable materials. These knives can be used for a wide range of cutting tasks and will last for years if properly cared for. In this article, we look at the reasons why Japanese knives are so sought after along with why they are chosen from knives from other regions.

Why are Japanese knives so sought after?

Japanese knives are so sought after because of the quality of their components and the fact they're designed to be used in a way that's unfamiliar to most people. Most Westerners are accustomed to using knives as cutting tools, but Japanese chefs think of their knives as extensions of their hands. They use the knives the same way they would use their fingers, so they can cut and slice with more finesse and precision than is possible with any other knife.

Japanese knives allow this precision and finesse by being forged in traditional methods using the highest quality steels available, and then finished  You won't find these types of high-tech alloyed steels being used in store-bought off-the-shelf knives. 

Some other reasons include:

Black finish

The Japanese knife has long been considered one of the most sought-after knives in the world, and for good reason: they have a reputation for being extremely sharp, durable and well-balanced. But what makes these knives so special? The answer is simple: it's all about the finish. Japanese knives are traditionally finished with a blacksmith’s finish, or kuro-uchi (pronounced "ku-ro-oo-chee). This finish gives them their traditional look with rustic charm while also reducing the risk of corrosion and preventing food from sticking to your knife.

Hammered prints

Another unique feature that also makes Japanese knives so desirable is the hammered print usually on the top part of the blade. This mark is created by hammering the blade while it's being forged. The dimples and marks on the top part of the blade create friction when cutting, preventing food from sticking to it. This reduces the amount of force required to cut through food, making it easier on your hands and wrists. They also lend a certain aesthetic to the knife depending on which style of hammer finish the blacksmith prefers. 

Mirror finish

Another reason why Japanese knives are so popular is the mirror finish feature. They are known for their high-quality mirror finish, minimalist look, and thin surface that has been polished and sharpened. The softer part of the knife is thinned and polished until it reflects light like a mirror. The silver hairline finish marking the separation between the softer and harder core steel is what sets Japanese knives apart from other types of blades.

Damascus finish

The most notable feature of Japanese knives is their Damascus steel, which has been used for hundreds of years and has a unique patterning that results from the artisanal process of folding together layers of steel. Damascus steel is usually only for aesthetic, as you are not doing the cutting with the patterned section of the blade, but rather the cutting edge. The different styles of damascus are almost endless and are an artistic expression of the blacksmith.

Matte finish

A distinct matte (or Nashiji) finish is another reason why these knives are so sought after. The pear skin pattern on the blade gives it a gentle texture that's dappled and coarse. This prevents food from sticking to the blade and makes for smoother cuts. 

Clear transition between hard and soft steel

The blades of these knives feature a steel core that transitions into softer steel at the blade's edge. This technique creates a mist, cloud or haze that contrasts the soft steel with the fine polished edge. This technique of using 3 layers  of steel for a knife is called San-Mai, and lends the knife extra strength and flexibility, which can prevent breakages under stress.