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Traditional Japanese Knives
There are many types of traditional Japanese knives, in particular, fish knives, since fish are a major part of the staple diet in Japan.
Japanese chefs, usually, have three or four knives, each for different ingredients and tasks.
The most common types are shown below.
A slicing knife with a long, thin blade, used to cut fish fillets into sashimi.
A variation of Yanagiba. The square tip cuts tough ingredients, such as octopus (tako). Takohiki is now less popular than Yanagi.
Also a variation of Yanagiba. The blade is thinner and narrower, designed to make thin extremely slices of fish fillets, such as blowfish (fugu) and Japanese flounder (hirame). See the blades of fuguhiki and yanagiba.
A heavy, powerful butcher knife with a thick-spine. This is an essential knife for cutting and filleting fish and butchering meat without bones. Deba knives have a wide range of blade lengths. See the blade of a deba knife.
A vegetable knife with a thin, rectangular blade. Usuba means “thin cutting edge.” It is an essential knife for peeling vegetables into thin sheets, like “Katsuramuki”, and cutting them into thin strips, like “Sengiri.”
A Kansai style Usuba knife with a round tip.
Types of Western Knives
The first Western knife introduced in Japan was a meat knife (Gyuto) during the Meiji period (1869 -1912). “Gyu” means beef and “to/tou” means a knife).
“Hybrid” knives”, combining high-quality Japanese materials and manufacturing techniques with Western designs made by Japanese knife manufactures, are now increasingly popular around the world. They are mostly double-edged, made of stainless steel, and are sharp and light.
The common western knives are shown below.