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About Japanese Knives

Just as with many other traditional and cultural products in Japan, Japanese knives offer simple, yet sophisticated beauty and quality to their users. It can take some time to learn how to handle these knives correctly, but it is a rewarding experience.


You cut food to make it delicious. You cut with purpose; cutting is one of the key elements of cooking. The main purpose of cutting food is to transform it into a good size for eaters. Another part of cutting is doing away with the inedible parts of food such as skin and bones. Because foods have fibers and cells, knives can change how foods taste just by changing how they are cut, sliced, pressed, chopped, etc. How you handle knives, cut with them, and interpret “cutting” makes a great difference in your cooking.

「切っておいしくする」 (Knives’ Time, Place, and Occasion – Use different knives for different tasks) from Gakko Hojin Heisei Gakuen Heisei Chorishi Senmon Gakko. (2007). Ichiryu Ryorinin ni Manabu Hocho Tsukai. Tokyo: Nihon Bungesha; Shibata Shoten. (1999; 2008). Hocho to Toishi. Tokyo: Shibata Shoten; Fujiwara Teruyasu Hamono Kogei. Products. Retrieved on March 19, 2010 from,; Aoki Hamono Seisakusyo. About Types of Knives. Retrieved on March 19, 2010 from,

There are many types of knives and you will most likely need more than just one knife. Why are there so many types? The answer is simple – because professional chefs use different knives for different tasks. The key difference between Japanese knife and Western knife is the way the knife is ground. Traditional Japanese knives are called 片刃/Kataba bocho (single sided edge/blade), having a bevel on only one side of the blade (if you are right handed, the bevel should be on your right when you hold a knife.) Thus, if you cut with a Japanese blade, you will find it has a natural tendency to steer to the left. On the other hand, Western knives (両刃/Ryouba Bocho) have a bevel on both sides of the blade and so the knife will cut through food without steering.


出刃包丁/Deba Bocho: This type is used for cutting sea food and meat. Deba is characterized by its thick blade. The Deba’s relatively shorter blade length is very useful when cutting a small pieces and parts of fish.

小出刃包丁/Kodeba Bocho: This is smaller version of Deba with slightly thinner blade. This is more useful in cutting small fish. It is best when used together with a Deba.–öên•ï’š/Yanagiba Bocho: Yanagiba looks like Japanese sword – long and thin. Compared to other types of knives, Yanagiba has excellent sharpness and when the entire blade is used to pull-cut food, the knife can make a beautiful slice. It is used for slicing fish fillets (without any bones) and other food items without hard parts.

薄刃包丁/Usuba Bocho: This is primarily used for cutting vegetables (aka菜切/Nakiri Bocho). As stated in its name – usuba means “thin blade” in Japanese – it has thin blade that is perfect for peeling and slicing vegetables and Katsuramuki (check out these mad Japanese skills on Youtube).

西洋包丁/Seiyo Hocho: The western knife (most commonly known as 牛刀/Gyuto) is a multi-use knife, used for everything from meat and vegetables to fish. Most of these knives have bevels on both sides of the edge. Home kitchens and professional kitchens alike would find this type of knife to be very useful. The length of handle and blade vary, but a 240mm blade is the most common for

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