Japanese knives are becoming more and more popular, which is why they have flourished in many shops.
Unfortunately with the increase in demand, it is more and more difficult to distinguish between good and bad knives.
Here is a short article to help you find a good Japanese knife according to your means. We discuss, how much does a Japanese knife cost?
We have already discussed the best Japanese knife brands here.
- What is a Japanese knife?
- Which knife is most commonly used in Japanese cuisine?
- How to know if a Japanese knife is good?
- What is a good Japanese knife?
- How to set a budget for a Japanese knife?
- How much does a Japanese knife cost? – Price range
- Low cost knives
- Japanese knives for amateurs
- What is the difference between Japanese knives and western knives?
- Final Words: How much does a Japanese knife cost?
What is a Japanese knife?
A Japanese knife is history, tradition and quality. When we talk about Japanese knives, we are referring to knives made in Japan, not only to knives from Japanese brands. These professional kitchen knives stand out for having great sharpness and for being manufactured with high-quality materials, which guarantee great ergonomics when cutting food. In addition, they have a really nice design.
Japanese kitchen knives have become the protagonist of most kitchens today. We dare say that the reason is due to their great cutting ability, as knife manufacturers in Japan are heirs to the best techniques for making katanas, the swords of the samurai.
You can check different types of Japanese knives in this article.
Which knife is most commonly used in Japanese cuisine?
Today there is a wide variety of Japanese knives; santoku knives, filleting knives, boning knives, bread slicer, peeler or paring knife… This helps us to get an idea of the importance of the different types of cuts in oriental cuisine for each dish.
To get the best results in meals, you should use the right knife for each task, since, for example, to cut a piece of meat or fish with little thickness and accurately, it is essential to have a thin and sharp blade.
How to know if a Japanese knife is good?
To know if a Japanese knife is of quality, the first thing you should do is choose it according to your needs. If you are looking for an all-purpose knife that can be used for different types of cuts, the Santoku knife is the most recommended option. Once you know what type of Japanese knife you are looking for, you should take into account the materials of manufacture and the type of blade and handle.
What is a good Japanese knife?
To know the price of a good knife, you have to define what a good knife is. There are 3 essential elements to know if a knife is of quality:
- the steel it is made of
- the manufacturing method
- the materials that make up the handle
I will discuss each of these points below.
The composition of the steel
The reputation of Japanese knives comes from their incomparable sharpness. This sharpness comes largely from the composition of their blade. The blades of these knives are traditionally made of steel. Even if there are Japanese knives with ceramic blades, I prefer not to talk about them in this article.
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. The higher the carbon content of steel, the harder it is and the sharper it is. The carbon content in Japanese blades ranges from 0.45% to just over 1%. The carbon content in steel is measured by the Rockwell degrees.
The amount of carbon in a blade will have a big impact on the price of the knife. Example of prices:
|Carbon rate||Rockwell degrees||Steel price per kilo|
|0.4% to 0.5%||53 to 56°||$3.00|
|0.6% to 0.7%||55 to 57°||$7.50|
|0.8%||56 to 58°||$9.50|
|0.90%||58 to 60°||$18.50|
|1.0%||60 to 62°||$40.00|
The price can therefore be 13 times more expensive just with the quality of the steel. Then other treatments of the blade can further increase the price (Damascus steel, VG10 steel, vanadium steel or other).
The manufacturing method
There are two methods of handcrafting in Japan. The first one is called “Honyaki”, the blades are forged with only steel (iron + carbon). This technique requires a lot of time and is therefore more expensive. But the knives are of a higher quality with an unequaled sharpness.
The second forging method, “Kasumi”, creates blades containing mainly iron, and steel only on the edge. This technique reduces the cost of production but also the quality of the blade.
Materials used for the handle
The handle of a Japanese knife is an essential part for cutting comfort. To choose it, you will have to look at the quality and the properties of the material used for its manufacture.
Most often the handle is made of wood and horn. Many kinds of wood can be used, for example
- Magnolia (Honoki)
- Resins (examples: micarta => resin + linen, pakkawood => wood strips + compressed resin)
- Tree bark
It is important to inquire about the durability and characteristics of the handle material.
The handle of these knives is D-shaped, it has a rounded side and a flatter side. Because of this asymmetry, the knife is more comfortable. However, be careful to choose a knife adapted to your preferred hand (there are knives for right-handed people and others for left-handed people depending on the orientation of the blade and the handle).
How to set a budget for a Japanese knife?
The budget for a quality Japanese knife is very variable: from about 100€ to more than 1 000€. You will have to choose according to 3 criteria: your needs, your means and your use of the knife.
Plan a budget according to the needs
Depending on my needs in the kitchen, it will be easier to set a budget for my knife:
- If I am an amateur, my budget will be rather low
- If I am a professional, my budget will be higher
- If I am a great chef, my budget will be much higher
This is a basis for reflection, then the other parameters, such as my means and my use will be used to refine my budget.
Set a budget according to the means
Now I can also think in terms of my means. The question to ask yourself is: How much am I willing to spend to get a good knife? Do I have $100, $200, $500 or more? You could also think about integrating the price of a sharpening stone. Example:
I have a $400 budget, I can plan $300 for my knife and $100 for a stone with two thicknesses of grain.
Set a budget according to the use
According to my frequency of use, my budget will not be the same. The same goes for the wear and tear of my knife. The more often I use my knife, the more I will need a high-quality knife. This will allow me to keep it for a very long time, even if I use it every day.
- If I’m a hobbyist and I cook occasionally with my knife, I won’t need to get a high-end knife.
- If I am a professional, using the knife very regularly, I will need a knife from a professional range.
- If I am a great sushi master, I will need a very high-quality knife, made by a renowned artisan.
These examples are to be adapted according to your situation. You may be an amateur who uses his knife infrequently but has very large means. In this case, you can take a high-quality knife to please yourself. It’s up to you to decide on the basis of these different elements. This will give you an orientation to establish a budget.
How much does a Japanese knife cost? – Price range
There are generally 4 price ranges among knife manufacturers and sellers:
- Entry level: inexpensive knives, very good for beginners and first-time buyers (about 50 to $150)
- Mid-range: reasonably priced knives, intended for amateurs or people who already have a good affinity with these knives or have more important needs ($150 to $300)
- High end: knives at high prices, dedicated to professionals, they will last several decades ($300 to $500)
- Master knives: exceptional knives, with costs commensurate with their quality and rarity ($500 to more than $1000, for this kind of knives, there is no real high range)
These ranges are simply a guide to help you. They do not constitute a divine word. Depending on the brand and the craftsman, prices may vary.
Low cost knives
There are more and more cheap knives, under $50. These knives are not necessarily bad, but they are often very far from the real Japanese knives. My first knife, for example, comes from a famous Swedish brand. I paid about $15 for it at the time. It works well for the use I had, but it is not Japanese. Its blade is sharpened in a V shape like western knives and its handle is made of plastic with rivets. Its blade is made of stainless steel, which is rarely the case for Japanese knives.
This knife cuts very well, however it is not a Japanese knife. Only the shape of its blade, reminiscent of the Santoku, reminds us of Japanese knives.
Japanese knives for amateurs
If you are an amateur in cooking or Japanese knives, you will have to turn to medium or high-range knives. Knives that you will be able to keep for many years and will offer you a very good experience and remarkable cutting quality. To know more about the different types of Japanese knives, read our article.
What is the difference between Japanese knives and western knives?
Have you ever wondered what are the differences between Japanese knives and Western knives?
- Knives in the West have two cutting edges (one on each side). However, Japanese knives are forged with only one cutting edge.
- Professional Japanese knives are made in one piece for both handle and blade, which is unusual in the Western manufacturing process.
- Oriental knives have shorter and sharper blades, as they are forged to cut all types of food (even bones or frozen foods).
As you may have noticed, the world of Japanese knives is very wide. Their function is to ensure a fine, precise and delicate cut for a better taste of food and to take care of the presentation of the dishes.
Whether you are an amateur cook or you have a catering business, we recommend you to use Japanese knives. Once you try them, you won’t want any others.
Final Words: How much does a Japanese knife cost?
In conclusion, Japanese knives are a great addition to any kitchen, and with the right knowledge and good research, you can find a high-quality knife that meets your needs and budget.
With the increase in demand, it is important to check the quality and craftsmanship of the knife before purchasing, and the information provided in this article can help you make the right decision.