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There are two grades of traditional Japanese knives, Honyaki “true-forge” and Kasumi “mist” . These grades are defined by the forging method and material used in forging.
Honyaki knives are the highest quality traditional Japanese knives. They are forged solely from one material: high-carbon steel (“Hagane”). This can be “Shiro-hanage” (White steel) or “Ao-hagane” (Blue steel).
The construction method used to make Honyaki knives is similar to that used to make traditional Japanese swords, which is a very difficult and long process. It requires the precise techniques of skilled and experienced craftsmen.
The blade of a Honyaki knife is hard, so it retains its sharpness for a long time; however, they are prone to chipping and difficult to sharpen. Since they cannot be mass-produced. Honyaki knives are expensive, compared to other types of knives. They are primarily for professional chefs.
Also read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honyaki
Kasumi knives are made from two materials by joining a piece of soft iron (Jigane) with a piece of high-carbon steel; the carbon steel forms the blade’s edge, and the soft iron forms the body and spine of the blade. Some people call Kasumi “awase” (which literally means ‘to combine).
Kasumi knives are less expensive than Honyaki knives and are easier to use and sharpen. Masamoto-Sohonten makes a high grade of Kasumi knives, called “Hongasumi.”
Hongasumi knives are constructed in the same way as Kasumi knives. However, the quality of steel used is often higher, and more processes and work are required for its construction than Kasumi knives.
At Masamoto-sohonten, the knives made by the Kasumi method from blue steel (Ao-gami) and white steel (Shiro-gami) are called “Hongasumi”.
Damascus Layered Steel Knives
Layered knives are special knives with beautiful, wavy patterns on the blade. They are made from high-carbon steel with layers of soft iron (jigane) added before forging. Layered knives are also called “Damascus Knives” and have become very popular overseas.