The Top 7 Miyabi Knives & Knife Sets

Published on 01/14/2024 · 8 min readSlice with elegance! Explore the top 7 Miyabi knives and knife sets, renowned for their exceptional sharpness, craftsmanship, and stylish design.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

A close up of a Miyabi chef knife. Photo by Di Doherty

TL;DR: Miyabi is a high-end knife manufacturer that makes Japanese-style knives with German steel. Their knives range from traditional Japanese santoku and nakiri knives to steak and paring knives.

I came about my love for knives honestly, as I inherited it from my dad. He made a point of encouraging my interest by helping me collect pocket knives when I was a kid; I still carry one daily. It was my mom who helped to foster my love of the culinary arts by letting me help her in the kitchen and then allowing me to start making my own creations once I was old enough.

These two interests joined in a passion for kitchen knives. I now own a wide variety and have tried out carbon steel, stainless steel, and ceramic blades. I’ve always been surprised and delighted by how using the right tool makes a task easy. This inspired me to help out my family and friends by getting them the right tools for the job.

I primarily used Western-style knives, as that was what I grew up using. However, once I began to research knives more thoroughly, I became interested in Japanese-style knives, deciding that I needed a gyuto, or Japanese chef’s knife, to try out a sharper, lighter blade. I settled on Miyabi, picking out their Kaizen II 8-inch chef knife because of their fusion of Japanese design and German engineering, and I haven’t been disappointed. If you need help choosing your Miyabi knife, please reach out to me or any of our Curated Kitchen Experts.

Width comparison with Japanese and Western chef knives. Photo by Di Doherty

Who Is Miyabi?

Miyabi is a subsidiary of Zwilling Henckels. The company manufactures traditional Japanese kitchen knives in Seki, Japan, a city that has been known as the capital for forging both knives and samurai swords since the thirteenth century.

The term “miyabi” is a part of Japanese tradition and is a concept of Japanese aesthetic ideals, roughly synonymous with “elegance.” They claim to mix Japanese craftsmanship and artistry with German engineering and precision, creating a fusion of the best of both knife-making traditions.

Their knife-making process is exhaustive, involving layering the steel in the knife blades over and over, depending on the knife. The process takes 100 steps and 42 days. Every knife handle is stamped with a mosaic pin (see below) as a way to identify the brand.

Closeup of mosaic pin. Photo courtesy of Miyabi

Caring for Miyabi Knives

Japanese knife-making companies typically make high-end, expensive cutlery. They draw on centuries of tradition in knife and sword making and prioritize sharpness and nimbleness over durability, which is the opposite of how most Western-style knives are made. That means that the blade is much more fragile than a Western knife, so proper care is absolutely essential to make sure that the knife will last for decades.

  • Handwash
    • Miyabi’s knives are not dishwasher safe — they even proclaim that on the box the knife comes in. Many of the knives have wooden, or wood composite, handles, which will be dried out and damaged by a dishwasher. The blades are also hard and thin, meaning that the heat and harsh detergents can dull or damage them as well as promote rust.
  • Honing
    • While the hard steel means that the knife won’t have to be sharpened very often, it does require regular honing. The sharp edge of a knife is very thin, meaning that using it can cause it to curl over. Running the blade along a honing rod straightens that edge out, restoring its sharpness. If a knife isn’t honed often enough, it can harden in that configuration, making the blade more likely to chip.
  • Proper Storage
    • Making sure that your knife is put away somewhere it’ll be protected makes a big difference in its longevity. These knives are viciously sharp, so it’s easy to cut yourself on them, too. Invest in a knife block, magnetic bar, or drawer insert to protect your knife blade and yourself.
  • Oiling the Handle
    • This is really only necessary if you own their birchwood knives, though pakkawood likes to be oiled now and again. But make sure to oil the handle — I recommended food-safe mineral oil, but olive oil or wood butter works well, too. It keeps the handle from drying out and potentially cracking or shrinking.
  • Cutting Surface
    • The softer the cutting surface, the longer the cutting edge of your knife will stay sharp, which is why many Japanese manufacturers recommend softwood cutting boards. While you don’t need to use a softwood board — they require a lot more sanding to keep them sanitary — make sure you use a proper cutting surface.
    • Wood in general is best, though bamboo is a good alternative. Synthetic cutting boards like composite are extremely hard and will dull or even damage your knives over time, never mind surfaces like stone, glass, or metal.

A collection of Miyabi knives with birch handles. Photo courtesy of Miyabi

Picking out just the right knife can be challenging, even when you’ve narrowed it down to a particular brand. As Miyabi’s knives, and particularly their knife sets, are an investment, I’ve gathered some into a list of recommendations to make the process easier.

1. Miyabi Birchwood SG2 Knife Block Set

For those looking for a set of stunning knives, these have a micro-carbide powder steel core that is covered by 100 layers of steel that are folded over one another, which results in a gorgeous pattern on the blade. The birchwood handles make them stand out even from other Japanese knives.

The set includes a bamboo storage block, paring knife, santoku knife, chef’s knife, bread knife, and honing steel for knife care. It also includes a set of shears, though those don’t have birchwood handles. These wooden handles will require extra care in terms of oiling, but they’re comfortable and gorgeous.

2. Miyabi Kaizen Granton Santoku Hollow Edge Knife

In Japanese, “kaizen” means “improvement,” and this line seeks to make their knives even better. This santoku knife comes in either a 5.5 inch or 7 inch, giving you choices in terms of size. Its Granton edge creates air pockets that discourage food from sticking to it, and it has a rounded Micarta handle. While it isn’t wood or pakkawood, it’s still handsome and easy to clean.

3. Miyabi Artisan 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

If you’re looking for elegant tableware, these steak knives are showstoppers. The beautiful Tsuchime hammer finish helps prevent food from sticking and showcases the knives’ handcrafting. Pakkawood looks and feels like wood (it’s made from layers of hardwood and resin) but is easier to care for and water resistant. Each blade is honed to a razor edge, making slicing easy.

Miyabi Kaizen II chef knife. Photo by Di Doherty

A Japanese chef’s knife, or gyuto, is a knife to choose if you want one for multiple cutting tasks. This blade is made of layered stainless steel and then acid-dipped to enhance the pattern. It takes cues from Western chef’s knives, making it great for dicing, chopping, and slicing. The D-shaped pakkawood handle is comfortable, and the knife is lightweight and razor sharp.

Miyabi Kaizen II Chef's Knife

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5. Miyabi Artisan Knife Block Set

For those who prefer a Tsuchime or hand-hammered finish, Miyabi’s Artisan line is an excellent choice. This knife block is magnetic rather than a traditional one with slots hewn into it, making it double as a way to display your knife set, though they come in a traditional block if you prefer. The pakkawood handles are rosewood colored, and this set includes everything you need: paring knife, utility knife, santoku knife, 6-inch and 8-inch chef’s knives, bread knife, and carving knife, as well as a honing rod and shears.

6. Miyabi Kaizen II Pakka Wood Paring Knife

Japanese paring knives are insanely sharp, allowing you to preserve as much flesh as possible when peeling vegetables or fruits. This knife has a black pakkawood handle that’s comfortable and nonslip, even when wet. The blade itself gets its stiffness and sharpness from double-ice hardening. The full tang promotes excellent balance and durability, though, as with all thin, hard steels, you do have to care for it properly to prevent the blade from chipping.

7. Miyabi Birchwood SG2 Nakiri Knife

If you don’t want to buy a whole set of birchwood-handled knives but still would like to own one, this nakiri knife is a nice compromise. Anyone who spends a lot of time cutting up vegetables should have a nakiri knife, and this gorgeous blade is razor sharp and made of Damascus steel. The 6.5-inch blade allows it to handle almost any cutting task, and the end cap can be used for crushing garlic or herbs.

Find the Right Miyabi Knife or Knife Set for You

A Japanese chef knife and a Western santoku. Photo by Di Doherty

Kitchen knives are used almost daily, which is why it’s important to get one that’s well made, comfortable, and durable. While part of this is a matter of preference, certain qualities separate an excellent knife from a mediocre one, and our Curated Kitchen Experts know what they are. If at any time you have questions or concerns or are looking for recommendations or advice, initiate a chat with an Expert. Any one of them would be happy to help you in their area of expertise, and the service is completely free!

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