Steel And Style Of Japanese Knife

About Steel

White Steel (Shiro-ko, Shiro-gami)
Forging white steel is extremely difficult and required high skilled craftsmen. There are white steel #1, #2 and #3. White steel #1 is the hardest steel among three. A knife made in this steel has an extremely sharp edge but it is brittle and prone to chipping.

Blue Steel (Ao-ko, Ao-gami)
also a refined carbon steel with only a few impurities,
made by adding chrome and tungsten to white steel.  The addition of chrome and tungsten
increases wear resistance.  There are blue steel #1, #2. It has great edge retention.

Yasuki Steel
The Japanese sword represents traditional Japanese craftsmanship. Made of Japanese steel using iron sand as the raw material, the edge of a Japanese sword is well known throughout the world. Hitachi Metals Co., Ltd., produces Yasuki steel from the raw materials for Japanese steel. In the past, iron sand with a high degree of purity could be excavated in the mountains in Tottori and Shimane prefectures and was refined to Tama Hagane using traditional processing (Tatara Processing). Hitachi Metals further improved the techniques, establishing their Yasuki Works to manufacture steel. The steel is called the blue steel, white steel, and yellow steel in the order of quality. Such names are said to be derived from the fact that blue and white papers were used to pack the finished steel for identification.

Styles and Uses of Japanese Knives

The Yanagi is a long slicing knife that was designed to slice thin slices of fish for sushi and sashimi. The length and shape of the blade allows it to slice through an ingredient in long uninterrupted strokes, preserving the ingredient’s freshness and integrity.

Deba knife
The Deba knife is a heavy knife that was made to filet and butcher whole fish. The heft of the Deba knife allows it to cut through the heads and bones of a fish, and its smaller pointed tip filets the flesh from the bones. The Deba knife can used be for chicken and meat but is not recommended for cutting through large bones.

Edo Usuba knife (Kanto region style)
The blade is wider and thin, allowing cutting hard vegetables such as carrots without cracking them.

Kamagata Usuba knife (Kansai region style)
Kamagata Usuba is a vegetable knife, originated in Kansai region. Small size is used for fine work such as decoration cutting.

The fugubiki is a traditional Japanese style blowfish slicer.
that the knife slices through fish better than the yanagi because of the extremely thin construction.

The takohiki is a variation of the yanagi and is used to slice straight-cut sashimi. It’s thin body makes cutting thin slices of fish easier than the yanagi. The blunt tip and balanced weight works well on difficult ingredients such as octopus, from which it gets its name. Originated in Kanto (Tokyo) region.

Yanagi-kiritsuke / Slicer knife
The Yanagi Kiritsuke knife is slightly heavier with a with a blade that is wider and a spine that is thicker.That can be used as either a sashimi knife or as an all-purpose knife. In sushi restaurant in Japan, this knife is traditionally used by the Executive Chef only and cannot be used by other cooks.

Gyuto / Chef knife
The Gyuto knife is the Japanese equivalent of the Western chef knife. It is an all-purpose knife and can be used for cutting fish, meat and chopping vegetables.

Santoku / Multi purpose knife
A Santoku knife is used to cut, slice, chop, and dice. It works well for slicing items such as fish, meat and chopping vegetables, The word Santoku translates as “3 good things” which means it is versatile like a chef’s knife and cuts vegetables, fish and meat.

Petty / Utility knife
Petty knives are small utility knives of Japanese design.
The petty is makes it a convenient size for peeling and other delicate work.

Sujihiki / Slicer knife
Sujihiki knives are the equivalent to a European slicer knife with a little bit differences. The blade is typically thinner and made out of harder steel, allowing for better edge retention. Sujihiki can be used for filleting,(sashimi) carving and general purposes.

Yo-deba / butcher knife
Yo-deba knives are heavy, durable knives with a thick spine, which are used for fish and meat butchery. Also size varies depending on the size of the fish or animals.