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What is the difference of Japanese and Western knives?

This post is also available in: 日本語

Before I tried to explain the physical difference between Western and Japanese kitchen knives with below illustration. blade_difference_ja …but I got further question from a friend:

a.Is the difference optically visible?

b.Is the actual sharpness different?

The guy said that he cannot be convinced that Japanese kitchen knives are great without clarifying those. If it cuts, it’s fine! Yeah I agree with it. So here I try to show the difference from my viewpoint. [br]

a.Is the difference optically visible?

Please see below picture. blade_difference_ja It is Henkel’s multi-purpose knife (which my wife gave me some years ago :)). As you see, the blade body is plain and flat, and it stays until the edge. And this is the Japanese one. knife2_sk It is multi-purpose knife by Sakai Kanechika, with Hagane(blade edge) of white II steel (about blade edge, here is the explanation). You can find clear difference between blade body (Jigane) part and the edge (Hagane). (“Shinogi” is another typical feature of Japanese knives, but it is different story for now.)

b.Is the actual sharpness different?

It is  quite sensitive question, because the sharpness is not durable function. It depends so much on how to sharpen the edge. A well-forged knife with bad treatment should be less sharper than a bad knife with good sharpening, for example. But I can say that Japanese knives have been designed and developed focusing on sharpness, while westerns consider the balance of elasticity, durability and ease to produce. Anyway, I cut my favorite egg roll with spinach. egg1 …with above Henkel knife. There was no problem cutting the egg part, but the fiber of the spinach was too soft and elastic. egg2 …with Japanese forged knife (not above one but another from Tosa Yamada I use at home). I know it’s only an example, but I personally love this sharpness! By the way, my friend, are you already convinced?? :))

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