Knife Types

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.

 

Knife Types Description
Traditional Japanese yanagi Knife Yanagiba
A slicing knife with a long, thin blade, used to cut fish fillets into sashimi.
Traditional Japanese Knife_Takohiki Takohiki
A variation of Yanagiba.  The square tip cuts tough ingredients, such as octopus (tako).  Takohiki is now less popular than Yanagi.
Traditional Japanese Knife_Fuguhiki sashimi Fuguhiki
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.
Traditional Japanese Knife_Deba Deba
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.
Traditional Japanese Knife_Usuba Azuma Usuba_Azumagata style
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.” 

Traditional Japanese knife_Usuba Kamagata style
Usuba_Kamagata style
 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.

Knife Types Description
Western knife_Gyuto Chef knife (Gyuto)
Most popular and essential knife for chefs. The blade of the chef knife is narrower than the santoku knife, and the tip is more curved. Common Blade length: 21cm (8.2”)
 Western knife_santoku knife Santoku knife
An all-purpose knife with a round tip.  It is suitable for home-cooking.  Santoku literally means “three virtues” – slicing, dicing, and mincing. Common Blade length: 18cm (7.0”)
 Western knife_Slicing knife Slicing knife (Sujihiki)
A slicing knife with a long, narrow blade.  It is mainly used to remove tendons (suji) from meat, but can be used for slicing cooked meats and ham.
 Western knives_deba bucther kife Butcher knife (Yo-Deba)
A Western-style Deba, but double-edged.  Yo-Deba looks similar to Gyuto, but the blade is thicker and heavier.
 Wester knife_Boning knife Garasuki Boning knife (Garasuki)
A poultry boning knife. It is mainly used to break apart whole chickens.
 Western knife_honesuki boning knife Boning knife (Honesuki)
A small version of Garasuki, a boning knife, sometimes called “Sabaki.” It is used to separate meat from bones.
 Western knives_petty knife Petty and Paring
This small knife is suitable for cutting fruits and smaller ingredients. Easy to manipulate. Common blade length: 120mm – 150mm for   petty knives.

 

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