The 11 Best Japanese Knife Brands

Published on 04/24/2023 · 7 min readLooking to upgrade to a new set of Japanese knives? Kitchen Expert Alex Alcarraz lays out his top 11 Japanese knife brands that you should consider while shopping.
By Kitchen Expert Alex Alcarraz

Japanese kitchen knives are well known for their high quality and incredible sharpness. However, putting some brands on a list is not enough to understand the scope of what makes high-quality Japanese brands so special. So, let's take a stroll through a bit of Japanese history.

Heian, Edo, and Meiji Periods

Japanese knives find their roots in the Heian period of Japan (about 794 to 1185 AD). The word “Heian” means peace in Japanese. During this time, Japan saw a period of cultural development. Trade with China and the Korean Peninsula brought new ideas in politics, art, religion, architecture, and more. Blade smithing techniques and metal forging from China and Korea blended with local resources gave birth to Japanese sword-making.

The techniques of sword-making and knife-making continued to evolve, and by the Edo period (1603 to 1867), several specific kitchen knives made their debut. Among these, the Deba (kitchen knife that is now associated with fish butchery), Yanagiba (Sashimi knives), and Nakiri (vegetable knives) became staples in multiple households and businesses. Red meat-eating customs of the West made enough of an impact to give rise to a new knife, the Gyuto (_guee\ooh_toh), translated to “meat knife,” now known as the chef's Western-style knife.

The biggest influencer of the boom of Japanese knives and artisans was the Meiji Reconstruction. The shogunate political system of Japan came to an end and gave rise to the imperial nation of Japan. As a result, samurai swords became illegal weapons to be carried, leading to the downfall of the samurai as a job description. Their services were not needed having been replaced by a police and central government system. This situation put blade smiths in a tough spot as the demand for samurai swords plummeted. It led to the traditional blacksmith techniques of weapons being employed towards knives. And so sword makers became knife makers.

Back to the Future

Modern knife-making culture from Japan has expanded its global reach, and its hub is in a small city with less than 90,000 people. Seki City, Japan, has been the center of high-end swords and knives since the 13th century. It is home to several high-end cutlers due to its traditional background and excellent natural resources. Of course, a few other cities like Seki have also found their niche in the fine art of Japanese knife making. For now, let's take a look at which are the very best Japanese knife brands out there for purchase.

The 11 Best Japanese Knife Brands on the Market


Global knives are one of the most relevant brands in professional and home kitchens. Pair their approachable prices with their timeless design and superb engineering, and you have an extremely high-quality brand. The patented Chromova stainless steel has a blend of chrome, molybdenum, and vanadium which makes their knives stain-, rust-, and chip-resistant. Global has been making knives for 40 years, and thanks to its dedicated team of craftsmen and leadership, the brand will continue its legacy for many more years to come.


Mac knives are made from high-quality Japanese Molybdenum high-carbon steel. Their edges are honed to a 15-degree even “V” for a razor-sharp blade that is easy to maintain. This is a quality knife-maker that has been in business since 1964 and continues to be the go-to brand for many professional chefs.

Masamoto Sohonten

This cutlery maker can trace its beginnings back to 1845. After six generations, the brand continues to employ the techniques practiced by its founder, Minosuke Matsuzawa. This brand has won several awards since its founding. It offers knives of both Western and traditional Japanese styles. Both have high carbon steel compositions, with the traditional Japanese styles carrying blue and white Japanese steels. This particular brand's headquarters is located in Tokyo.


This maker carries over 750 years of tradition in making kitchen knives. Its workshop is in Seki, Japan. It is renowned for its usage of cutting-edge technology blended with traditional forging practices. Chefs' knives made by Misono are made in a Western style with a 70/30 edge for sharper and more aggressive cutting prowess. Their Molybdenum 440 line offers one of the best paring knives in terms of price and quality. The UX-10 line is the best in terms of edge retention, craftsmanship, and precision.


This Japanese brand is born from the West’s desire for the revered excellence of Japanese craftsmanship and tradition. The Zwilling J.A. Henckels company decided to purchase a Japanese knife factory, thus creating a new brand that blended cutting-edge German technology and Japanese knife-making techniques. The main aspect of Miyabi knives to keep in mind is their cold-tempering techniques.

Friodur tempered knives reach "warmer" tempering temperatures, making the knives corrosion-resistant and with lower hardness levels. Cryodur tempered knives reach much lower tempering temperatures, focusing on longer edge retention and harder blades. With a higher hardness blade, they can be more prone to chipping. The Miyabi Black 500MCD67 line is their very best—a pricey yet wonderful Japanese knife set gift.


This knife company was established in 1975, specializing in producing premium high-carbon steel traditional Japanese knives. Founder, Norio Sawada, wanted his knives to be known throughout the world. To achieve this dream, he joined forces with a Western-style knife specialist and set out to bring modern technology to his forges. The name "Nenohi" is considered a synonym for premium traditional Japanese knives. Among these, their more expensive blades include beautifully made saya covers. The Nenox label represents Western-style knives that boast razor-sharp stain-resistant blades and comes with beautiful choices of natural wood and bone handles.

Sakai Takayuki

This knife brand expands 600 years of history in making fine Japanese knives. It is located and known as the largest knife-maker in Sakai City. Sakai Takayuki makes fine Western and traditional Japanese knives. The company has several styles to choose from. Their Damascus steel blades are as beautiful as their razor-sharp edges.


The Kai corporation founded this brand to bring fine Japanese cutlery to the United States and Europe. Modern technology, along with the work of fine knife artisans, fills the demand of knife enthusiasts, professional chefs, and home cooks. Shun's Classic Blonde series remains a top choice among its many series. These Japanese knives are made in a Western style.

Takeshi Saji

This brand bears the name of its founder and continued craftsman. Takeshi Saji and 10 other knife makers founded the Takefu Knife Village display room in Echizen City in Fukui Prefecture. The display room houses some of the best knives from the best knife makers in Japan. Takeshi Saji's knives specifically have a rounder handle design and a myriad of unique materials and different combinations of steels for the blades made. There are no specific series or lines, simply a choice of blades that can be described as more beautiful than the last.


This brand offers a great balance of quality, style, and price. Togiharu's most popular series is the Hammered Damascus line which offers a chef's knife, petty, Nakiri, slicer, and a paring knife. Professional chefs find them accessible enough when getting started in higher-end restaurants as reliable tools.


This cutler finds its home in Sanjou City, in the Niigata Prefecture of Japan. Its symbol derives its meaning from the four promises of Mt. Fuji: faith, sincerity, appreciation, and creation. Tojiro makes classic knives and Western-style knives. Their affordable price point has made them a staple in many home kitchens. Nevertheless, their high-end selections grace the hands of professional chefs. As an added offer of transparency to patrons and visitors, Tojiro opened Open Factory. As its name states, it is a factory open to the public where visitors can see, hear, and experience Tojiro's knife-making processes and history.


Dicing, mincing, and slicing using the knives above are as enjoyable as the gentle sound of a brook flowing. Owning a Japanese knife comes with the understanding and appreciation of a history that spans hundreds of years. To learn more about Japanese knives, talk to a Curated Kitchen Expert! We are always happy to share our knowledge and guide you to discover the knives you need!

Alex Alcarraz, Kitchen Expert
Alex Alcarraz
Kitchen Expert
After 15 years in the hospitality business, I learned that a crucial part of my work was having the right tools. Let’s chat about your cutlery needs and find the tools that are perfect for you!.Let’s take this knife journey together and find the perfect fit for you!
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Written by:
Alex Alcarraz, Kitchen Expert
Alex Alcarraz
Kitchen Expert
After 15 years in the hospitality business, I learned that a crucial part of my work was having the right tools. Let’s chat about your cutlery needs and find the tools that are perfect for you!.Let’s take this knife journey together and find the perfect fit for you!

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