Why are Japanese knives among the best in the world?

27 Jan 2017 in Food Culture

It’s no surprise that Japanese knives are prized by the world’s top chefs: they’re razor-sharp, pinpoint-precise – and, in the right hands, they can do some incredible things!

knife-japan-cuisine

Japan’s reputation for creating top-quality blades can be traced back to the samurai era – when the famed katana swords were the stuff of legend. But when swords were outlawed by the Haitōrei Edict at the end of the 19th century, blacksmiths turned their talents to making knives of exceptional hardness and durability. And the tradition has continued ever since.

It’s all about the forging

Today, two methods are used for forging traditional Japanese knives: honyaki and kasumi.

Japanese chef

The honyaki method uses a single material, typically high-carbon steel, and involves hand-forging using a technique similar to that used for swords. It’s time-consuming and labour-intensive, but the result is a blade of exceptional resistance and durability. Honyaki-grade knives are among the world’s sharpest, cutting with supreme precision in the hands of an expert – but they’re also difficult to sharpen and maintain.

Kasumi-grade knives are made by combining hagane, a high-carbon steel that makes the blade edge resistant, with jigane iron, which is used in the body to make it more flexible. They’re easier to use and maintain than hoyaki knives – and also less expensive. And if you’re not a professional chef, this is probably as sharp and precise as you need your knives!

Best knife for cuisine

The art of cutting

In today’s Japanese cuisine, there’s a knife for every occasion. And there’s a name for practically every knife technique! Here’s our selection of some of the most frequently-used knives and some of most intriguing – and incredible – techniques used by Japanese chefs.

1 – The yanagi bōchō is the perfect tool for cutting thin, evenly-sliced sashimi, a revered art in Japan. Find out how to slice sashimi like a pro in this video:

2 – In the hands of a skilled chef, the usaba knife can be used to slice extremely long sheets of vegetable measuring less than 0.5mm in width and up to several meters long!

The vegetable of choice is usually the daikon or cucumber, but it’s possible to use the so-called katsuramuki technique with a carrot, aubergine, ginger or potato. Want to see a master in action? Check out the awe-inspiring skills of this Japanese chef:

3 – The short, pointed blade of the deba bōchō is the knife of choice for cutting fillets, bones and shells. Check out this sushi chef’s skills in filleting a mackerel in fast forward!

Like to pick up your own Japanese knife and hone your cutting and slicing skills?

HOSHINOYA Tokyo Hotel

EN bouton booking_eng_image size

Just thirty minutes from HOSHINOYA Tokyo, the Tsukiji fish market district is a great place to browse shops selling a vast range of authentic knives.

Tsukiji Tokyo fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Alternatively, you can head straight to the knife specialist shop Kamata in Tokyo’s Taito district. Established in 1923, the store sells its own range of over 800 handmade and factory-made knives. It’s truly at the cutting edge of the industry!

Would you like to find out more? Subscribe to our mailing list!

* indicates required




OTHER EXPERIENCES

crab

Savouring the snow crab

25 Jan 2019 in Food Culture

Prized as one of winter’s choice treats, the Japanese snow crab is a must for seafood fans! Read more

fuji-nightV3

Fuji in winter: peak viewing

06 Nov 2019 in Food Culture

Expect great views of Mt. Fuji and plenty of the great outdoors at HOSHINOYA Fuji this winter. Read more

japanese-traditionnal-breakfast-2

Ready for a Japanese breakfast?

08 Sep 2017 in Food Culture

Soup, rice and pickled vegetables first thing in the morning? Japanese breakfasts can be a cultural shock – but they’re among the healthiest in the world. Read more

OTHER EXPERIENCES

Shigeru-Konno

French style: an interview with Chef Shigeru Konno

13 Sep 2017 in Food Culture

Chef at Villa Del Sol, the restaurant of Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami, Shigeru Konno explains how he fell in love with French cuisine. Read more

nikko-coffee

A taste of Japan’s coffee culture

22 Sep 2017 in Food Culture

Enter our contest for your chance to win Japanese-blended coffee and two handmade cups from Tochigi Prefecture. Read more

apple-oil-massage

Aomori, Japan’s main apple-growing region

11 Nov 2016 in Food Culture

Only produced in Aomori prefecture in Japan, the Fuji apple is unique in the world! Discover why... Read more

most popular articles