Know the Difference: Western vs Japanese Knives

Know the Difference: Western vs Japanese Knives

Know the Difference:
Western vs Japanese Knives

Once you start cooking, the first thing you look for in the kitchen is a Knife. Basic essential kitchen tool, you see! Now, for a chef like cooking we tend towards a chef's knife. Typically measuring around eight inches in length, these adaptable blades come in a diverse range of shapes and sizes. Not only this, if you observe closely you will face the fact that the style of each knife is in some way correlated to its place of origination.

While there are a multitude of knife varieties, professionals often categorize them broadly as "Western" or "Japanese" styles based on their characteristics. If you're curious about the disparities between Western-style and Japanese chef's knives, you're not alone. While it may not be common knowledge, there are notable that are worth understanding and taking into account when making your selection. And that’s what our blog elucidates: Western VS Japanese knives, what’s better!

What is a Western knife?

Damascus Steel Chef Knife
As the name suggests, these knives are made in the West and are popular in American and European countries. As per historical references, Germany was and is at the forefront of manufacturing high-end Western knives, leading to these being commonly known as "German-style" knives. They feature a double-edged blade which is fixed to the handle. It typically has significant weight and features a thicker blade with a gentle curve, stimulating a rocking motion while cutting. This design, characteristic of German or Western blades, became popular owing to the ease of cutting meat. But with advancements in design, it is also well-suited for demanding tasks such as rough chopping, dicing, and tackling tougher, denser vegetables.

What is a Japanese knife?

Renowned chefs from all around the globe, such as Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Nick Bradshaw, James Sommerin, Tom Kerridge, Ana Roš, and countless others, vouch for the superiority of Japanese knives. It’s safe to say these are worth the hype! They originated in Japan in the era of the Samurai and resembled the legendary Japanese swords like katanas.
Damascus Steel Chef Knife
These knives are made from high-quality carbon steel, often harder and thinner than Western knives. This allows for incredibly sharp edges. Yes, they are those sharp knives you see in blacksmith videos! Japanese knives typically have a single-beveled blade, meaning the sharp edge is angled on one side only. These blades then taper into a tang that's knocked into a wooden handle. This contributes to the knife's sharpness as well as balance while cutting. It even prevents fatigue that occurs while chopping.

Pros Of Japanese knives Over Western Knives

In the tug-of-war between Japanese Chef Knife Vs Western, it is sure that the Japanese have the upper hand. Want to know why? Read on! 

The upper hand of the Japanese steel blade over the Western one

A fundamental contrast between Japanese and Western knives lies in the steel utilized for the construction of their blades. Japanese knives are commonly made using harder steel, enabling them to retain a razor-sharp edge for years. Knives may have HRC (Rockwell Hardness Scale) ratings ranging from 50 to 65.

Japanese stainless steels like SG2 attain HRC ratings ranging from 62 to 64, positioning them among the toughest stainless steel knives available. Western steel, like SK carbon or AUS8, has HRC ratings ranging from 54 to 58, considered relatively soft compared to their Japanese look-alikes. This is why Japanese blades are preferred, as they do not require constant sharpening.

Japanese knives' thinner profile beats thicker Western knives.

Japanese knives are known for their thinner cross-sectional profile compared to the thicker Western knives. This slim blade of Japanese knives enables more precise and effortless cutting through multiple things. Thinner blades necessitate less force to cut and are less prone to wedging. This distinction becomes particularly noticeable when slicing dense ingredients such as carrots or potatoes. While a thicker blade like that of a western knife demands more force gives uneven cuts.

Lesser hand fatigue owing to light-weight Japanese knives

Japanese knives are recognized for being lightweight, which makes them easier to handle for careful cutting. They're not tiring to use for long periods because they're not heavy. On the other hand, Western knives are heavier, so they're better for cutting tough things. The weight helps with force and stability. But because they're weightier, they're not as easy to use for gentle cutting.

Minimal food sticking is what makes Japanese knives better

Japanese knives typically have a thinner profile and a steeper edge angle (typically 15-20 degrees) compared to Western knives (around 20-25 degrees). This steeper angle creates a finer, sharper edge that cuts through food cleanly with less surface area contacting the flesh. Less contact means less opportunity for food to cling to the blade.


In the struggle to find which one is better, a Japanese knife vs Western knife, we can conclude that the latter has its own place in the market, while the Japanese knives have blurred every line to become one of the highly demanded chef knives. Investing in a good quality Japanese knife set is vital to making cooking a cakewalk. If you are looking to shop one for yourself, Yakushi Knives delivers to you the best Japanese knife sets that are the epitome of perfection and exude authenticity.

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