Best Japanese Knife Sets of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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Japanese knives are well-known for their detailed and beautiful designs and the cuts they deliver.

These knives are some of the world’s best types, which makes them so sought-after.

If you are in the market for the best Japanese knife sets, the ones we’ll review today are great choices.

Best Japanese Knife Sets: A Review

Comparison Chart

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Kitchen Knife set Shuzhou Hidemoto Wakana knife 5-piece set
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Rachael Ray Cutlery Japanese Stainless Steel Knives Set with Sheaths, 8-Inch Chef Knife, 5-Inch Santoku Knife, and 3.5-Inch Paring Knife, Teal
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Shun Sora 6-Piece Block Set Including 3.5-Inch Paring Knife, 6-Inch Utility Knife, 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, Herb Shears, Combination Honing Steel and 11-Slot Bamboo Block; Stainless Steel Knife Set
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Houcho.com Yanagiba Knife & Deba Knife Set, Sakai Akanezakura
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Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set

1. Syugen Kitchen Knife Set

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Syugen is a brand selling kitchen knife sets on online shopping sites.

It is a perfect choice for those who don’t have enough budget yet want a good-quality knife set.

The Syugen knives are built well and have some interesting features.

Product Highlights

A great thing about the knives included in the set is that they are extremely light; altogether, they weigh only a little over a pound.

That ensures minimum fatigue even if you spend hours using any of the knives.

This knife set is imported from Japan. Design-wise, we absolutely love what the brand has done with it.

Each knife comes with a sturdy handle with a light wood finish along with a bright silver blade.

The blades have the brand name printed in Japanese.

There are five knives in this set that come in a bright red box that holds each knife well, including:  

  1. A small crest knife measuring 22.5 x 4.5 x 1.7 cms with a blade measuring 10.3 cms
  2. A 23.7 x 3.5 x 1.7 cms petty knife with holes with a blade measuring 11.8 cms
  3. A Santoku kitchen knife measuring 30 x 5 x 2.3 cms with its blade measuring 16.7 cms
  4. A vegetable cutting knife measuring 31.2 x 5.5 x 2.3 cms with a blade measuring 16.7 cms
  5. A Sashimi kitchen knife measuring 33.2 x 3.7 x 1.9 cms. with a blade measuring 20.3 cms

Each of the knife’s blade is made from high-quality stainless steel with an ABS resin handle.

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What We Like

There’s no doubt that you get a lot for the price. The five-piece knife set is ideal for any home cook.

Each knife is built well and made with a stainless steel blade. They’re extremely light, which does a good job at reducing fatigue.

Since this comes in a box, it makes an excellent gift too.

What We Did Not Like

We would have liked it if the handle was made of better material and designed better since it leaves a lot to be desired.

PROS

  • Stainless steel blade
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Average handle

2. Rachael Ray Cutlery Japanese Knife Set

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As seen by her several top-rated books, magazines, and hit television shows, Rachael Ray is an excellent example of being in the kitchen.

She has always inspired her fans to make simple and quick meals and fill homes with the scent of rich flavors and comfort.

All this means that there is a lot that her knife set has to offer.

Product Highlights

Each knife in the Rachael Ray Japanese Knife Set is made from premium-quality Japanese steel that ensures long-lasting performance.

These are extremely sharp kitchen knives with finely-honed blades that are corrosion-resistant.

All this helps in delivering an exceptional slicing and cutting performance.

In terms of the design, she has taken it up a notch with the gorgeous teal handle with the sparking silver blade.

The handle not only looks good but also designed smartly.

It’s shaped well to offer a comfortable grasp, and the rubberized grips will provide you a confident and solid grip.

The Rachael Ray Japanese Knife Set includes an eight-inch chef knife, a five-inch Santoku knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife.

Each knife comes with a plastic sheath, which protects the blade and edge between use.

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What We Like

The knives are made from premium-quality Japanese steel, which is durable and long-lasting.

They’re extremely sharp too. We also liked the handle color and how well it’s designed.

What We Did Not Like

There wasn’t any fault with these knives, but we would have liked it if the Rachael Ray Japanese Knife Set had more than three knives.

PROS

  • Made from premium quality steel
  • Comes with a plastic sheath
  • Nicely designed handle

CONS

  • Three knives only

3. Shun Sora Six-Piece Block Set

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The Shun Sora brand is one of the most sought-after Japanese knife set brands on the market.

You’re assured that you are getting only the most durable, sharp, and long-lasting knives from them.

Product Highlights

The Shun Sora Six-Piece Block Set features all the essential knives necessary for a well-equipped kitchen.

The bamboo block attracts attention that it deserves, but the highlight is the high quality, premium stainless-steel knives it houses.

The 3.5-inch paring knife precisely cuts small fruits and vegetables and is a perfect size to be used in hand or on a cutting board.

The six-inch utility knife comes with a slim and straighter blade.

It is a perfect everyday knife for ingredients too large to cut with a paring knife.

The eight-inch chef’s knife has a gentle roll off the knife’s tip compared to the large roll of a Western-style knife.

It also means that you would need less effort to lift this knife, which makes cutting with it more efficient.

The eight-inch blade is also ideal for handling larger fruits, vegetables, and meats.

The Combination Honing Steel that comes with this knife set is an important addition to take proper care of this knife.

It comes with surfaces for daily and weekly honing. All of this makes this an unparalleled knife set.

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What We Like

We like that the Shun Sora Six-Piece Block Set features knives, a honing steel, and a beautiful wooden block to hold the knives.

We also love that the knives are well-built and extremely sharp.

What We Did Not Like

There have been complaints of some manufacturing defects.

PROS

  • Comes with a honing steel
  • Includes a wooden block
  • Sharp edge

CONS

  • Some complaints of manufacturing defects

4. Houcho Knife Set

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The Houcho Knife Set is excellent for folks who want to prepare seafood.

It may only come with two knives, but it still has a lot to offer.

Product Highlights

The Houcho Knife Set comes with an 8.3-inch blade Yanagiba knife and a 5.9-inch blade Deba knife. 

These two are the perfect knives for those interested in cutting and slicing fish.

The Yanagiba knife is ideal for those who want to slice up raw blocks of fish and fish fillet.

The Deba is a heavy-duty cleaver ideal for tougher jobs like cutting through the bones and cartilage of fish.

The blades are made from Yasuki white steel, which is one of the sharpest blades on the market.

The knives are handmade in the style of Sakai crafters and forged using traditional Japanese sword-making techniques.

What We Like

The two knives in the set are ideal for cutting, slicing, and filleting fish.

They come with extremely sharp blades and require minimal sharpening.

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What We Did Not Like

Since the blade is made from white steel, taking care of the knives is extremely challenging.

PROS

  • Sharp blades
  • Simple and neat design
  • Rust resistant

CONS

  • Challenging to care for

5. Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set

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Every knife from Kamikoto is meticulously handcrafted with a blade made from high-quality steel from Japan.

The Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set has knives with some amazing features.

Product Highlights

The Kamikoto Kanpeki is a three-piece knife set with a high-quality blade made from stainless steel from Honshu, Japan.

It consists of a seven-inch Nakiri vegetable knife, an 8.5-inch slicing knife, and a five-inch utility knife.

Both the blade and handle are satin finished delivering a subtle and stunning luster.

The knife is also precision-balanced and weighted and is resistant to corrosion.

The knives come in a gorgeous natural-colored ash wood box for storage and safekeeping.

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What We Like

The three-piece knife set is ideal for any kitchen and everyday cooking.

The knives are gorgeous, well built, and extremely sharp. We also truly like the natural-colored ash wood box.

What We Did Not Like

For a three-piece knife set, the knives are extremely pricey.

PROS

  • Made from high-quality steel
  • Satin-finished handle and blade
  • Corrosion-resistant

CONS

  • Very expensive

How Do I Choose a Japanese Knife Set?

It’s evident with the kind of knives we have reviewed above that Japanese kitchen knife sets are among the market’s finest ones.

The cutting edges are made from premium quality steel, which is better than most European kitchen knife sets.

It’s no surprise why so many professional chefs around the world prefer these knives.

However, if you aren’t sure which one of these five Japanese chef knives sets is best for you, we recommend going through our detailed buyer’s guide to make an informed decision.

Types of Japanese Knives

Before you consider getting yourself one of the Japanese chef knife sets, it’s important to understand the different types of these knives. 

Santoku

The Santoku is a general-purpose knife, which is ideal for preparing and cutting vegetables, fish, and meat.

Santoku roughly translates as three virtues representing the three main cutting functions of slicing, dicing, and mincing, which this knife is typically used for.

The blade’s spine curves down towards the almost straight cutting edge.

That means the point is virtually in line with the rest of the edge.

The shape of this blade is closely similar to the French-style chef’s knife.

Gyuto

Gyuto is equivalent to the traditional chef’s knife in American and European culture, and it is a fantastic all-purpose knife.

Gyuto roughly translates to “cow blade” which illustrates its recent origins to prepare raw meat and fish.

The knife has a gentle curve and increasing curvature heading toward the point, so you can use the knife in a rocking motion.

This feature makes it an ideal choice for preparing vegetables and fruits.

Sashimi 

This knife gets its name from the popular Japanese delicacy of raw fish, sashimi.

It’s designed extensively for preparing raw fish from slicing to filleting and portioning.

Traditionally, the Sashimi knife has an angle on one of its sides, and this gives it a phenomenally sharp, fine edge and a flat back that provides better support when you cut.

The knife blade’s shape is sometimes called “Yanagi” which translates to willow leaf.

Sashimi knife has a long tapering blade with straight edges curving only along the tip of the point, and these are best for cutting with a pull stroke.

It is a brilliant addition to any good Japanese kitchen knife sets.

It is also an excellent carving knife to cut cooked meats like ham.

Usuba

At first glance, the Usuba closely resembles the standard meat cleaver, but the reality is that it is nothing similar to that.

When translated, it literally means a thin knife, and the knife’s exceptionally thin blade makes it great for preparing fruits and vegetables.

You may have noticed that knives with thicker blades with large bevels tend to split and break firm or tough fruits and vegetables easily, but that’s not the case with the Usuba knife.

Its thin blade with a very acute angle ensures perfect slices of food without damaging it.

This knife is also ideal for slicing cooked food. Additionally, the knife works on softer fruits like tomatoes without crushing or squashing them. 

Deba

Deba is particularly used to clean and prepare fish.

It’s named according to its shape and means pointed knife due to its sharp point formed by the meeting of the curved spine and curved tip.

The Deba is single beveled and has a flat back face making it more efficient when you fillet.

You will find that the blade on this knife is thicker compared to other Japanese knives, and the bevel is more obtuse.

This feature gives Deba more strength to chop large bones, which you encounter when cutting fish.

The curved edge makes the knife ideal for mincing, making it a perfect knife to prepare chicken and other boneless meats.

That said, don’t use the knife to cut through meat bones since you risk damaging the knife’s cutting edge.

Type of Steel

It’s important to note the type of steel used in crafting the blade when buying a Japanese chef knives set.

Each of these types comes with its unique properties that can directly impact the knife’s performance.

The steel used within these knives is favored for its fine grain structure and ability to harden much more than the hardness of any American or European manufactured steel.

The greater hardness and finer structure mean that the knife’s blade has a sharper edge with an even finer bevel angle, and altogether this improves the cutting performance.

The steels used in making knives in the Japanese chef knife sets typically tend to be either stainless steel and other steels that aren’t.

VG-10 stainless steel is a Japanese formulated and manufactured high-end carbon steel.

It has an extremely fine microstructure and tends to be harder than knives made from regular stainless steel.

This steel is perfect for producing extremely thin blades that have an acute bevel angle.

It ensures a sharp edge.

Other types of steel include non-rust proof steel like white and blue paper steel.

White paper steel is high carbon steel, which is its purest form and can offer the sharpest and finest edge of any steel.

That said, it gets damaged quite easily when not handled properly and is highly susceptible to wear and tear.

On the other hand, blue paper steel is high carbon steel and alloyed with tungsten and chromium.

It makes it more durable than white paper steel but not as sharp and hard though.

Blade Size or Length

The blade size or length mostly refers to the chef’s knife.

Unfortunately, we can’t give a definitive answer as to what blade size you should get.

It all comes down to personal preference.

We recommend going for a good all-rounder knife if it is your first knife.

It can be the 210mm or 240mm chef’s knife, in this case, the Gyuto or the Santoku.

It will cover more than 90% of any kitchen job. 

Handle

The shape of the handle can have an immense bearing on how the knife will perform.

If a knife feels uncomfortable when you’re holding it, it will ultimately deliver a poor performance irrespective of the blade’s sharpness and overall quality. 

When choosing a knife, make sure that you also pay close attention to the handle’s size.

Handles that are too small or too big for your hands can cause discomfort and make the knife harder to control.

Usage

Always consider how you will use the knife before you buy it.

When you are looking for a knife for a specific purpose, like filleting a fish, then your selection process will be straightforward.

On the contrary, if you’re looking for more of a general-purpose knife, then there are several details you have to consider before choosing one.

You can use a lot of knives for more than just a single task, and this ability to perform well in most aspects will be influenced a lot by the size and shape of the blade.

Blades with curved edges are best to cut with a rocking motion which is useful for slicing and chopping vegetables.

Blades with a straight edge are ideal for cutting with a push or pull stroke, which is useful to produce thin slices of raw fish and meat and cooked meats.

Shorter and smaller blades tend to be more useful when working with smaller food and easier to control when trimming.

On the other hand, longer blades are ideal when you have to prepare larger pieces of fish and meats.

Weight

The weight of the knife is another important aspect that you need to consider.

It’s obvious that lighter knives are nimble and a joy to use, and they are also ideal if you want to reduce fatigue.

That said, if you aren’t a professional cook, light knives aren’t exactly the most important aspect for you since you simply won’t be using it long enough to get tired, to begin with.

Every knife will carry all the important details like the weight, thickness of the blade, and more on its packaging.

Layers

A good Japanese knife will be made from different layers of steel.

It can depend on the local traditions and culture of the manufacturing blacksmith.

These layers can range anywhere between two and 33 and influenced by the types of steel used and whether the knife will be single bevel or double beveled.

That said, even with the number of layers, the blade will have a similar composition of exceptionally hard steel.

This composition will give the knife the brilliant combination of greater durability as well as immense sharpness.

FAQs About Japanese Knives

1. Who Are the Best Japanese Knife Makers?

Some of the world’s best brands that make exceptionally great Japanese Knife Sets in no particular order are:

  • Yoshihiro Cutlery
  • Shun Cutlery
  • Maxwell
  • Miyabi
  • Masamoto Sohonten
  • Dalstrong
  • Misono

2. Are Japanese Knives Worth It?

Japanese knives are undoubtedly some of the most expensive knife sets on the market.

Some of them cost as much as a German knife set too.

That said, the blade on a Japanese knife is of a high-quality and needs minimal sharpening, which makes it so worth it.

Do note, though, that these knives are delicate and need more attention and care.

You can’t throw all of them in the dishwasher.

3. Why Are Japanese Knives Expensive?

There are three main reasons Japanese knives are so expensive.

First is the material. It is possibly the clearest reason these knives are so expensive since they are made from some of the highest quality materials.

The next reason for its high pricing is its design. All Japanese knives have been made with great attention to detail.

That is from the point of the blade to the finishing of the handle.

Lastly, it’s prestige. Japanese knives are sort of like an investment.

In fact, big-time collectors treat rare and high-end Japanese knives with the same obsessiveness and adoration as a Hermès Birkin bag.

4. Is It Cheaper to Buy Knives in Japan?

Yes, it is definitely cheaper to buy a Japanese knife set from Japan, but how much cheaper it is will depend on the brand and the origin country.

Brands like Misono and Tojiro are maybe around 5% to 10% cheaper in Japan if you get them tax-free.

Then, brands like Masamoto Tsukiji and Aritsugu can be anywhere between 20% and 40% cheaper due to their limited distribution outside of Japan.

We highly recommend buying yourself a good Japanese Knife Set brand when you are visiting Japan the next time.

5. Are Japanese Knives Better Than German Knives?

Both German knives and Japanese knives have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, Japanese knives are undoubtedly sharper than German knives, but they are not as durable.

Also, they need more care and attention to last as long as German knives.

What Is the Best Japanese Knife Set?

The reviews of five of the best Japanese Knife Sets and the buyer’s guide provided you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

It’s clear that these knives are some of the best ones on the market and are a must-have for every kitchen.

Between these five, our personal favorite is the Rachael Ray Cutlery Japanese Knives Set

It is the only knife set we couldn’t find any faults in.

The knives are made from premium steel and have a beautiful and well-designed handle that makes using them an absolute breeze.

Even the overall color and design of this knife are exceptional. We are certain that you will also like this knife as much as we did.

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