Types of Japanese knives

Don’t get confused by the Japanese knife names!

Each knife has a use that is easy to understand and normally has an English translation/name
(for those who aren’t fluent in Japanese).

Gyuto – a chef’s knife

I think you all know what a chef knife is.
It’s a blade with a smooth curvature that helps with “roll chopping” or rocking action,
but isn’t limited to.
This knife, like a santoku can be used to do a large range of tasks.
*Japanese chef knives are a lot thinner than western knives.

180mm for home use or smaller spaces. (Not all companies make this size. See santoku)
210mm the most popular size of knife.
240mm for pro chefs or home cooks with serious knife skills.

Nakiri – not a cleaver

A tall knife that is normally thinner that most other knives.
Easy to use and great for vegetables.
Not to be mistaken as a cleaver.
We call it a “veg knife”.

Santoku – like a chef knife but smaller.

All-purpose knife.
Designed in the 1940’s for cutting slicing and dicing.
The santoku is basically a perfect knife for home @ 160mm-180mm
(or for chefs it is a perfect knife for service).
This knife has slightly less curvature than a chef knife and looks like a Nakiri with a slight point.
A santoku will fit on smaller chopping boards when larger chef knives tend to clip off the edge.

Petty/paring knife – a small knife

There are some minor differences between petty and paring knives,
but they are all just small knives.
I don’t distinguish between the two.
A small knife for small jobs like cutting beans or dicing onions on a chopping board.

Sujihiki – carving/ slicing knife

A sushi knife has a single bevel or one sided.
Sujihiki is double bevelled slicing knife, making it left and/or right-handed plus easier to sharpen.
The straight edge makes this knife ideal at slicing meats and fish.
Chefs: This is the most underrated knife in the kitchen in my opinion. Great for portioning proteins and excellent at slicing. Able to slice and dice. Not great for chopping herbs.

Deba – fish filleting knife

A thick spined knife able to cut through fish and chicken bones and fillet at the same time.
One sided like sashimi knives.
Very different to western style filleting knives and often only 160mm-180mm in length.
Similar technique, however: remove the head then trace the spine of the fish.

Honesuki – boning knife

A Japanese style boning knife that comes in two types:
maru and kaku.
Maru is normally for red meat.
Kaku is normally for chicken, but some chefs like to used it as a fish filleting knife also.

Yanagiba – sashimi knife

The famous one sided Japanese slicing knife.
Great for fish as the length ensures you can slice from heel to toe with one cut.

Bread knife

A serrated blade able to cut soft bread without crushing it.
You know what this is and does.
*I recommend blades that are offset or curved so you don’t dust your knuckles on the chopping board.



A heavy, thick spined knife with an acute bevel. Ideal for chopping bones without chipping your knife.

Hybrid knives– 

There are many more hybrid knives and single bevel knives! Like Usaba: A one sided nakiri.
I’ll just mention a few important hybrids :

Kiritsuke – or a k-tip

A kiritsuke is an amazingly useful tool. It can chop, dice and slice.

A normal chef’s knife has more curvature to the knife profile than the kiritsuke but doesn’t slice as well due to the straighter profile of the knife.

Kiritsuke has more height than normal slicing knives. So, if you push/pull cut this is a god tier knife.
Not recommended for people that “rock chop”.


A bunka knife is just like a santoku. It is a hybrid between a guyto and a nakiri,
or a nakiri with a point?

A multi-purpose kitchen knife that is great for slicing, dicing, and chopping.
Not recommended for people that “rock chop”.
Highly useful for people that push or pull chop.

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