Main image courtesy of Yoshihiro. Minor updates made on September 3rd, ’22
After getting served a bunch of ads for knives marketed as being Japanese, I decided to figure out the Japanese knife market. Along with knowing which are and are not Japanese knife brands.
- Do I own Japanese knives? Yea, I think so.
- Do I know a lot about knives? Nope.
- What kind of knives do I own? Tojiro (my first knife), Shun, Global, Wusthof, and a Chrome knife bag.
- Do I know the top Japanese knife companies? It would be a wild guess, and I would probably be wrong.
You are here reading this article because it ranks high via Google search for several reasons. The main reason is for a quick overview of the Japanese knife market. The second is as a warning about the sketchy AF Chinese companies pretending to be Japanese.Did these sketchy brands not learn a thing from George Costanza pretending to be an architect?
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
What sort of Japanese knife post is this if I do not have the obligatory bit relating samurai swords with kitchen knives.
Yea, Going in, I Do Not Know a Whole Lot, So What Is the Point of My Post?
I intend on giving you an overall perspective of the Japanese knife market, which uses my decades of experience/expertise to cut through (pun intended) the marketing BS of misleading and deceptive brands that play off the reputation of Japanese knives.
What Constitutes a Japanese Knife Brand
- Japanese owned company/individual(s) that manufactures or produces their products in Japan.
- I do not consider a brand to be Japanese because they are a Japanese style of knife such as a deba (pointed carving knife) or a santoku (“three uses”). Except you will find deceptive marketing-driven brands on “review websites” and “best of” lists under this criteria. So if you own a Chrysler 300C, you then qualify as a British car because it has the design profile of a $200K Bentley Flying Spur.
Why Does It Matter if a Knife Is Japanese?
Well, based upon a “knife review” website and several manufacturers, it does matter because some of these companies will market their product under the guise of being Japanese. They will use the keyword “Japanese” in their marketing copy to imply that they have Japanese roots, to naming their product line “wasabi,” “shogun,” or “Mimi Miyagi.” All to get you to believe you are buying a Japanese manufactured knife, and if these entities are doing that, it must matter that a knife is Japanese.
Some Basic Info/Traits of Japanese Knives
- Hocho/bocho: means “kitchen knife” in Japanese.
- There are several hand-forged small producers to large mass producers: such as Shun a brand by KAI, a company with a 100-year-old history, to Global, a family-owned manufacturer with knives loved and used by chefs like Anthony Bourdain (his goto chef knife was a Global G-2 eight-inch knife).
- There are numerous brands and regions that date back 800+ years to swordswiths. One such brand is Fujiwara Kanefusa, a 26th generation old sword making family in Seki City, Japan.
- Blade bevel: generally, most Japanese knives are single-bevel (kataba) blades sharpened on one side, which are not ambidextrous and require more skill to wield correctly. Although there are several double-bevel blades from a sujihiki, gyuto, santoku, and a nakiri.
- There are two basic categories of Japanese knives (wa-bocho): honyaki and kasumi. 1. Honyaki is a single material, and typically forged high carbon steel (considered the top grade knife in Japan). 2. Kasumi grade knives are two layers of metal forged together which typically consist of high-carbon steel with an iron spine.
- Heft vs. thin and precise: in comparison to the hefty German knives, Japanese knife blades are typically thinner and lighter allowing for a sharper edge.
- Some examples of pricing: 1. Yoshihiro Blue Steel #1 Masashi Aoko Stainless Clad Santoku Multipurpose Chef Knife $234.99 (pricing on the company website). 2. Global Classic 7″ Hollow Ground Vegetable Knife, $79.95 (Williams & Sonoma). 3. Shun Classic Chef’s Knife 200mm (7.9″), $149.95 (MTC Kitchen).
Types of Steel/Brands Used by Japanese Knife Makers
Aside from the production methods, the type and quality of Japanese steel used by Japanese bladesmiths are partially what sets Japanese knives apart from all others.
Aside from the Japanese knife styles, the Japanese steels used by bladesmiths (knife makers) are known globally for their quality. These regional blacksmiths with 800+ years contribute immensely to the craft.Some Japanese knife makers like Misono have also chosen to utilize the high-quality carbon steels from Sweden.
The steels used are not exclusively Japanese, and some producers such as Misono have sought out and utilized Swedish Stainless Steel for their line of products.
The top Japanese knife makers use a proprietary steel (CROMOVA 18 by Yoshikin) or from these leading Japanese steel producers, from Aichi Steel Corp, Hitachi Metals Ltd., Kobe Steel, Ltd/Kobelco, to Takefu Special Steel Co. Ltd.
- The types of steels used (the spectrum) by Japanese bladesmiths: on one end is stainless steel with chromium added for corrosion resistance (to prevent rusting). The other end is high carbon knives, which are prone to rust but are very hard, super sharp, and with longer-lasting edge retention.
- Here are a few of the Japanese steels used by Japanese knife makers: SLD (by Hitachi), VG-1, VG-10 (by Takefu), AUS-10, ACUTO440 (Aichi), Shirogami 1/2/3 and Aogami 1/2 (White and Blue steel by Hitachi), and ZDP-189 (also by Hitachi), R-2, a Japanese super steel made of a powder metallurgy (Kobelco).
A Few Styles of Japanese Knives
These are a few of the most popular styles that I have linked to the most popular sellers by the most popular online dealers (that is a lot of popular going on):
For general use such as chopping and slicing:
Gyuto (Japanese kitchen knife)
Great general purpose double-bevel (can be used by left/right-handed users) chef’s knife.
Santoku (multi-purpose variant of a kitchen knife)
As versatile as the gyuto but shorter in length. The santoku is also double-bevel and is great for slicing, chopping, and dicing 1. meat, 2. fish, and 3. vegetables (“three virtues”).
Purpose specific knife primarily for vegetables and fruits (soft foods):
Nakiri/Usuba (only for veggies and soft foods)
Looks like a cleaver, but is a double-beveled knife used for chopping vegetables (Japan was a vegetarian country for 1,200 years). The usuba is a variation of the nakiri which is a thin single-bevel blade and looks very nakiri like.
A key aspect of Japanese blades is the Japanese blacksmiths, who can work with various alloys with high carbon content (for high edge retention). The Rockwell rating (HRC) is a hardness scale, and it matters because you can sharpen a 2-dollar butter knife to cut razor-thin slices, but if it does not hold its edge, you’ve got a 2-dollar butter knife.This is why cheap knives never disclose the type of steels they are using (they do not want you to know that they are related to a butter knife).
For sushi chefs and or individuals looking to butcher and slice, these are the knives for you:
A yanagi (it is what most, if not all sushi chefs use)
For slicing fish and boneless protein and is an ultra-sharp single-bevel knife.
Sujihiki (an ambidextrous and super-sharp slicing knife)
A long thin double-beveled variant of a yanagiba used as a boneless protein slicing knife (steaks to prosciutto), along with soft foods (soufflés) and fruit.
Deba (for butchering fish and chicken)
A single-beveled knife great for butchering fish such as filleting, beheading, to scaling fish. Also, much like an American vs. a Japanese person, a yo-deba is the beefier, sturdier, double-beveled Big Gulp variant, minus the fanny pack.
These are only a few, and if you want to know what they all are, MTC Kitchen has the full range of Japanese knife styles. Although, if you are looking to purchase any of these knives online, I have the ultimate buyers guide here for a: gyuto, santoku, yanagiba, sujihiki, and a deba.
Three Types of Knife Brands to Be Aware of When Shopping for Japanese Knives
I have broken down this listing into three sections: the first two are “the good,” and the last section is “the bad and ugly.”
- Japanese knife brands: products from Japanese companies and blacksmiths.
- Non-Japanese knife brands producing Japanese-style knives: the most notable is Zwilling, a well-respected German producer.
- All of the deceptive brands: these are all the companies with Japanese-sounding names with products with the shape of Japanese-style knives or completely nothing to do with Japan by implying they are Japanese.
Japanese Knife Brands (The Good)
Going in, I had no clue that there would be so many producers that consist of factory-made knives and a ton of small companies to individual blacksmiths (this is a partial list and is no way meant to be a “best Japanese knife brands” listing).
- Anryu: Katsushige Anryu is a fourth-generation knife maker and has been a blacksmith for well over 50 years.
- Aritsugu: each knife from Aritsugu has been handmade by multi-generational blacksmiths spanning over 400 years.
- Glestain: are made in Honma Kagaku, Japan, and are very recognizable by their unique (hollow ground) design.
- Global (globalcutleryusa.com) – is manufactured and designed by Komin Yamada of Yoshida Metal Industry or Yoshikin in 1985.
- Haruyuki: how can you not love a company that has their product line named after shochu.
- Hattori: 80 y/o grand master, Ichiro Hattori.
- Hinoura: forged knives by Echigo forge smiths Tsukasa and son Mutsumi Hinoura.
- Hiromoto: by master Futoshi Nagao who after many years of researching with Hitachi Yasugi Metallurgical Research Laboratory, came their “Tenmi-jyuraku” series of professional quality chefs knives.
- Itou: Mr. Itou, a 77+ year old custom knifemaker.
- Kanefusa: Kanefusa Fujiwara is a 26th generation swordsmith out of Seki city.
- Kanetsugu: located in Seki city, this company’s origins date back to Japan’s Teiwa period/Jowa era (1345-1349).
- Kikumori: Sakai Kikumori is based out of Sakai city, near Osaka.
- Kurosaki: Yu Kurosaki is a younger blacksmith from Echizen Japan.
- Kyocera Cutlery (cultery.kyocera.com): is considered the leading brand in ceramic knives and kitchen tools.
- Masakage Knives (masakageknives): founded in 2007 by Takayuki Shibata, one of Japan’s best knife sharpeners, and all knives are handmade by a master blacksmith.
- Masamoto Sohonten (masamoto-sohonten.co.jp): a highly renown name with sushi chefs, the brand has been around for more than 150 years.
- Masanobu: these knives are made out of VG-10 cobalt stain-resistant steel blade with a pressed wood handle with a metal bolster (faux Damascus look via laser printing).
- Minamoto Cutlery (by Yasuda): from Seki city utilize Aogami #2 steel at its core with a stainless steel cladding.
- Misono: based out of Seki, Misono utilizes Swedish carbon steel with a high level of purity and each knife is hand-ground and finished.
- Moritaka Cutlery (moritakahamonoen.ocnk.net): the Moritaka family has hundreds of years of history-making knives, and they utilize Aogami Super Steel with a hardness of 64-65.
- Nenohi (Nenox, nenohi.co.jp): Established in 1975, they produce a high carbon rust-resistant steel that they use in their Nenox knives.
- Ryusen: Ryusen Hamono was established in 1953 to produce kitchen knives in Fujiku, so-called “Echizen”, in Japan.
- Saji: Echizen blacksmith, Takeshi Saji is the leading knifemaker in Takefu city (Fukui prefecture).
- Sanjo Kawamura: from Sanjo city, for 40 years, Mr. Kawamura has manufactured handmade knives in his workshop.
- Shiki (Hiro Knives Co.ltd.): out of Seki city and under the supervision of craftsman and designer Masui Hiroaki.
- Shun (KAI, shun.kaiusa.com): one of the most “hyped” (meaning they are widely available and marketed really well) Japanese knife brands.
- Suisin: Junro Aoki and his company Aoki Knife Craft is one of the oldest knife crafting companies in Sakai, Japan.
- Sukenari: was founded during the Shōwa period in Toyama Prefecture.
- Takayuki: Aoki Hamono has been making knives in Sakai under the name Sakai Takayuki since 1947. Each component of their product has a different specialist responsible for each stage of production.
- Tojiro (tojiro-japan.com): Japanese and Western-style knives out of Tsubame city by Fujitara Industry, Co.
- Yoshihiro: a history spanning over 100 years? (it is in question) and a respected brand in the US where the brand is most well known because of their independent dealer located in Beverly Hills, CA.
For a more comprehensive list of Japanese knife brands, check out “The Best Japanese Knife Brands, Not Said So by Your Mom, an Influencer, or a Paid Shill.”Japan is an aging country of geriatrics, so a lot of the notable producers are in their 70-80’s which makes some knives collectible.
Non-Japanese Owned Brands, but They Do Utilize Either Japanese Materials/Techniques/Craftsmen (the Good).
- Zwilling (zwilling.com) – Established in 1731, Zwilling is a well respected German company, and you have most likely heard of their Henckel brand although the reason I have them listed is for their line of products branded as “Miyabi” (which means “elegant”). In their own words “It takes more than 100 steps and 42 days to make one knife worthy of the MIYABI brand. Each knife goes from the hands of skilled artisans to yours—ensuring you get the finest caliber. We craft the knives in Seki, Japan’s samurai-sword making capital since the 14th century. You get the best of both worlds: German engineering and Japanese craftsmanship, for long-lasting durability and scalpel-like sharpness. Making you the master of precision cuts.“
For Amazon shoppers: most of the brands on Amazon are “fake Japanese” knife brands (38% of the top overall selling products are from China), and these are the only Japanese and German/Japanese (Miyabi) knife brands on the platform:Amazon is how China has circumvented American retailers, the original gatekeepers of the market, such as SEARS, Target, and small mom-and-pop shops across the US (my full article here).
1. Global 2. Miyabi 3. Shun 4. Tojiro 5. Yoshihiro
Beware of These Knife Brands Marketed Under the Guise of Being Japanese (and the Bad and Ugly)
These knives can be as good, but in most cases unfortunately worse than Japanese knives which is why they made this list. These brands are all marketed under the guise of being Japanese (implied), and they may tout “they are inspired by,” or “an homage to Japanese knives,” but they seem to spend more time and effort on their marketing, than time spent on the product. NOTE: I will not be promoting or providing links to the companies which are deceitful (fake/scam knives).
- Dalstrong – Established in 2012, this company has spent a considerable amount of money and effort on their website, but like several other companies listed below, they do everything they can to not mention that they made their products in Yangjiang China. You would think if you are going to put a concerted effort into what you are doing, that you would own up to it and market that you are Chinese, and manufacturing in China. Well, that is not the case, although they are not as egregious as the other brands below which is why I contemplated moving them up a section. Except, based upon what others had experienced, I came across this Reddit thread (chef knives), which is one instance of mismanagement of expectations by Dalstrong. Another misleading point could be how they tout they use “AUS-10V Japanese super steel” which is another reason I moved this brand to this section because I think they are playing off of AUS-10 which is a type of steel by Aichi Steel, and AUS-10V is an attempt by Dalstrong to play off that Japanese brand.
BTW, there is nothing wrong with Chinese-made products (I love the Anker brand for all my electronic accessories out of Shenzhen). The problem is with the bulk (95%?) of theses brands utilize deceptive marketing to imply they are Japanese (look at all of these brands on Amazon out to fool you).The Japanese have no clue what the internet or digital marketing is, but on the other end, the Chinese are great with digital marketing. Unfortunately, the Chinese think branding is about deception and treating consumers like idiots.
- Kamikoto (this is the WORST OUT OF THEM ALL): they are the worst, but I respect the massive amount of effort they put into their deceit because this company is everywhere. A company you will see with numerous sponsored Google ads, and they have worked hard to market the fact that they have a Tokyo, Japan office, but they do not produce their product there. So why are they headquartered there? Possibly primarily only for marketing purposes, because they potentially do use Japanese steel (they cite “420J2 steel (Genten series) and SLD steel (Ganjo series),” but their manufacturing still takes place in Yangjiang, China. A city in China respected for their blacksmithing, except, none of these companies will market that fact even though I have not heard too many bad things about Yangjiang blacksmiths. Also if you are wondering what others think of 420J2 steel, here is a thread on BladeForums.com (if they mislead you on where the product is made, can you really trust the steel they say they use?).
- Kinzoku – they may have an office in Hawthorne, California?, and the company produces a faux Damascus steel which is laser etched to look like Damascus steel because these knives are a cost-effective homage to the Japanese art of metalwork. That homage also extends to naming themselves after Kinzoku Steel which they will provide a DISCLAIMER when entering their website that they are not related or affiliated with Kinzoku Steel, and they are not endorsed or sponsored by Kinzoku Steel or their products.
- Wasabi knives – if an American company named their company “radish,” it would probably confuse you although that is the tactic taken by this anonymous company. The only thing you will find out about them is that they say they are engineers, and their entire product line utilizes Japanese names (locale names such as Okinawa, Rishiri, Aratogi, to Naoshima) even though their products are all manufactured in China. That should not be an issue, but this looks to be a newly formed company that does not want you to know where they are located which could be a huge red flag if you ever have a problem because all sales are final. So why does this company market its products with everything Japanese because of the “Japanese forging” methods?
For the full list of potential fake/scam knife brands from Huusk, Matsumoto Sakari, Kamikoto, Kizaru, Kutara, Sanktoku, Seido, and the million others, check out the link below:“Fake Japanese Knives: More Deceptive Chinese Knife Scams/Brands Marketed as Japanese Which Is Like Dating in the 80s.“
Chinese Knives vs. Japanese Knives
Simply put, you get what you pay for with a Japanese knife, and Chinese knives are often cost-effective products marketed as more expensive.
New Content, just dropped on November 11th, 2022
The tactics used by misleading and deceptive brands
From my research, it is primarily mainland Chinese companies that are fixated on deceptive marketing, and you would think, with all the effort they put into being deceptive, why would they not invest into being Chinese?? After all, China has an extensive history of driving technology and culture throughout the world which is sad because so many things in Japan are originally from China (if you are a Chinese brand, contact me).
- The brand name or product line: The name will have some sort of Japanese sounding name. Names like “sumo,” “wasabi,” “geisha,” “shogun,” or “samurai” would be nonsensical to a Japanese person (a knife named wrestler, radish, hostess, etc).
- Playing off of Japanese brands: I am sure one brand got a cease and desist, but a few brands will take well-known brands such as JIKKO or Kinzoku Steel to imply that they are associated with or they will tweak the name from AUS-10 to AUS-10V to play off the brand of Japanese steel.
- Japanese knife types: “Deba, gyuto, santoku,” etc will be used throughout their website and ads to imply that it is a Japanese made knife.
- No blatant “Made in _____” information: Japanese will usually state the city (Seki) of origin or flat out say “Made in Japan.” Also, beware of brands that tout they are headquartered in Japan because that does not mean the product is made in Japan, or a Japanese owned and operated company.
- Using the word “Japanese” and avoiding any use of anything that is Chinese: Throughout their marketing copy they avoid and make almost no mention of their Chinese roots which is why some consumers feel ripped-off and say that they are “fake” or a “scam.”
- Emphasis on price and being low priced: Culturally, the Japanese do not epitomize value based on being the cheapest, which is why pricing is not the driving factor when marketing a product. What you will see is an emphasis on quality versus an “all you can eat sushi” business which by the way are not typically Japanese owned. So if you are constantly seeing “sale,” “75% off,” “$1,505, now $265” that is more than likely it is not a Japanese company.
- The “About Us” is never about them: You will not find anything about the company, the individuals behind the company, their mission, or vision statement, etc. It will typically always be another opportunity for them to reinforce “Japanese, the Japanese art of metalwork, Japanese Honshu steel, Japanese, Japanese, Japanese, samurai, and Japanese.”
- Not sold by 3rd party retailers: There are several 3rd party retailers who sell Japanese knives, but most of the deceptive brands can only be purchased online through their website. Although you can also find similar/the same product on the website AliExpress which is owned by Alibaba, the Chinese-based company. I should also cite that Kamikoto attributes being direct to consumer is to “minimize markup of 5-6x’s.” Except they do not tell you that “savings from the markup” most likely go towards shipping products individually to you.
- No address or physical location: Try going to any of the above company’s websites, and it will be a challenge to find out what city, state, or country they are located in. All of that information is not provided or very hard to find.
- They think you are an idiot: Well, many people do not care where the product is manufactured or who owns it (they love you), and they targeted these products at them which is why they treat their customers like complete idiots. They are out to fool you, and they are not trying to be upfront with who they are, and the people behind the company probably binge-watch the MTV show Catfish. It is one reason if you go to their social media, you will see several people calling them out for their deceptive behavior.
- Paid positive reviews: They pay or provide free products for favorable reviews, and I won’t call out the dozen or so creators/bloggers/vloggers who will sell out although it is really obvious when you watch or read their content how blatantly biased it is.
- Having a web presence: Go look at the list above of actual Japanese knife brands. Now, if you knew all six license plates of the cars outside before walking into a building. You may have noticed that most Japanese knifesmiths have no website. They do not have one because they are all too focused on crafting knives, and not on digital marketing or doing product photography (or working with “influencers.” The companies that do have a website are mostly large companies from KAI, Nenox, to Global.
Selecting a Vendor (Where to Buy)
There are a number of websites that are simply e-commerce portals to market and sell you whatever they can possibly sell you. Although on the other hand, there are also these sellers who are just as committed to the craft as the blacksmiths and artisans who created these knives, and these are the sellers I will be highlighting. Also note: I have included vendors from all over the country and Canada from Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Madison, to New York.
This list below is basic, and if you want to know which dealers are the best to buy a Japanese knife from, check out my newest post to find out (3/5/21).Many of these dealers have been in business for upwards of two decades.
BERNAL CUTLERY / SF Bay Area
- Bernalcutlery.com and bernal-cutlery.shoplightspeed.com/ – You got to love this story of how they started out “Bernal Cutlery was established in 2005 by Josh Donald and Kelly Kozak in Bernal Heights, San Francisco in the slanting utility room in the back of an apartment on Cortland avenue. With $40 for an extra stone and some fliers Bernal Cutlery was born. Sharpening soon branched into selling vintage and antique culinary knives and after several years of working from different home workshops as we moved around Bernal Heights we opened our first brick and mortar shop on Cortland Ave in 2010 in the brand new 331 Cortland small business incubator collective. What began as an idea of how to keep groceries in the fridge and pay a bill or two as (broke) new parents has grown over the years to include a dedicated crew who each bring their experience and interests to fill out and refine our shop.“
- Some of the brands carried are (they do not specialize only in Japanese knives): Ashi Hamono, Gihei, Hitohira, Jikko, Kaji-bei, Sanjo, Kanehide, Konosuke, Masafune, Masakane Mutsumi Hinoura, Nakamura, Sakai, and many, many, many, more.
- Location: San Francisco and Oakland, California (brick and mortar and e-commerce)
- Web traffic: under 5k a month.
CARBON KNIFE CO / Denver, CO
- CarbonKnifeCo.com – Wow, who would have thought there would be two notable cutlery stores in Colorado, or more specifically in Denver (or maybe I did not turn off my local search results). Unfortunately, a lot of these companies do not do a lot of branding, so I had to dig to find out about who they are. Luckily, they do a little PR, so I found these articles about Craig Field and Tina Chon. The first is by 5280 and the second is by ValentichGoods.com.
- Some of the brands carried are Anryu, Ashi Hamono, Bryan Raquin, Fujiwara, Gihei, Halcyon Forge, Hinoura, Hitohira, Jiro, Kato Yoshimi, Kagekiyo, Kitaoka, Kurosaki, Laseur, Makoto Kurosaki, Masakage, and the list goes on.
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Web traffic: under 5k a month.
CHEF KNIVES TO GO / Fitchburg, WI
- Chefknivestogo.com – I love it when companies like Chef Knives To Go get branding and why it matters. Some think branding is a logo or graphic design because I have met graphic designers who pitched themselves as “marketing professionals.” Well, you do not have to worry about that with this company because they seem to know that you are not looking solely for the product, but the right person to buy it from. Not only do they do a proper About Us, but the website has a lot of useful information. So in their own words “hello and thanks for visiting Chef Knives To Go! My name is Mark Richmond and I am the owner. I started the business in 2002 in Madison WI along with my wife and business partner, Susan Brown.” If you want to read the rest, click here for their full About Us.
- Some of the brands carried are Kohetsu, Konosuke, Kurosaki, Masakage, Moritaka, Richmond, Shibata, Takeda, and Tojiro.
- Location: Madison, Wisconsin (e-commerce)
- Web traffic: approx. 177.26k in the last 6-months (30k per month).
CHUBO KNIVES / ??
- ChuboKnives.com – this crew is killing it because every time I do my research, Google ads delivers all the ads that I did a Google search on which means I have been barraged by Chubo Knives ads. Now, I do not just add anybody to this directory, but after researching, I found out that Chubo knives was “founded in 2012, by Jeremy Watson, the Chubo Knives team brings over two decades worth of experience with Japanese craftsmanship and knowledge of knife-making. Our in-depth restaurant industry knowledge and hospitality mentality has been a cornerstone in creating a business in tune to the needs of the world’s top chefs and culinary professionals.” From that prominent “About Us” placement on their home page, I knew I had to add the company.
- Some of the brands carried Akira-Saku, Chubo, Glestain, Kazan, Karaku, Kagekiyo, Kitaoka, Makoto Kurosaki, Masamoto, Matsubara, Misono, Sakai Takayuki, Shibata Kotetsu, Saji Takeshi, Takamura, Takeda, Tojiro, Fujitora, Masahiro, and more.
- Location: somewhere in the EST zone.
- Web traffic: approx. under 5k a month.
HOCHO KNIFE / Hyogo, Japan
- Hocho-knife.com – not much about who Hocho Knife is although they do say they are Import Japan.com, Inc, Florida, USA. Kyoto and Hyogo, Japan are also listed for some unknown reason, maybe possibly where they additional offices in.
- Some of the brands carried are Tojiro, Yoshihiro, Yoshimi Kato, Forever, Kasumino, Ryusen, Sakai Jikko, Zanmai, Shapton, Sakai Takayuki, Takeshi Saji, Takayuki Iwa, Masamoto, Shizu, Glestain, Kiya, Sabun, Sugimoto, Hocho knife, Teori, and more.
- Location: Somewhere in Japan or Florida? (e-commerce)
- Web traffic: approx. 146.64k in the last 6-months (24k per month).
JAPANNY / Ishikawa, Japan
- Japanny.com – Nice, this company is good because they state this right up front: company name: Sekaie Inc, Ri 86-3 Hamamachi, Nomi, Ishikawa, Japan 929-0124. CEO Atsuhiro Nakamura (Hiro). The only thing is if you have a problem, they will not respond.
- Some of the brands carried are Sakai Takayuki, Yu Kurosaki, Takeshi Saji, Yoshimi Kato, Iseya Knives, Shigeki Tanaka, Katsushige Anryu, Seisuke, Takayuki Iwai, Hideo Kitaoka, Misono, Sukenari, Kunihara, Miyako, Takamura, and many more.
- Location: Ishikawa, Japan (e-commerce)
- Web traffic: approx. 84.59k in the last 6-months (14k per month).
JAPANESE CHEFS KNIFE / Seki City, Japan
- JapaneseChefsKnife.com – In their own words: “Finest Japanese chef knives direct from Japan (JCK, Established in 2003) is the direct internet sales division of The Kencrest Corporation. We supply a wide range of top quality Japanese Chef’s knives at lower than Japanese Retail Prices direct from Seki City; the Japanese cutlery capital where fine knives are produced using over 800 years of Samurai sword-making tradition and history.” If that has your attention, don’t let their very basic website in regards to design detract you from buying from them because the content on their site is very good because the passion that the individual(s) have towards this craft/cutlery comes through.
- Some of the brands carried are Hattori, Fujiwara Kanefusa, Glestain, Hinoura, Hiromoto, Kanetsugu, Masamoto, Misono, Mizuno, Mr. Itou, Shiki, and more.
- Location: Seattle, Washington, and in Seki City, Japan (e-commerce).
- Web traffic: approx. 122.06k in the last 6-months (20k per month).
JAPANESE KNIFE IMPORTS / Beverly Hills, CA
- Japaneseknifeimports.com – this overall post took A LOT OF TIME to put together, so I almost got sloppy and left this retailer off. If I did, that would be pathetic on my end because the dude behind this Beverly Hills based company is Jon, and he went to Colorado College with a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies. Why does that matter, well, that school is in Colorado Springs, and I’m also a CO native. So, to leave him and Sara off would have been a shame.
- Some of the brands carried are En, Gengetsu, Gesshin Ginga, Gesshin Heiji, Gesshin Hide, Ginrei, Gonbei, Ikazuchi, Jin, JKI specials, Kintaro, Kochi, Mitsuaki-T, Pomme, Rinkaku, Ryusen, Suien, Yuri, and Zakuri.
- Location: Beverly Hills, California (brick and mortar and e-commerce).
- Web traffic: under 5k a month.
KNIFE WEAR / Canada
- KnifeWear.com – Kevin Kent, owner and president, was a sous-chef at the legendary chef Fergus Henderson at St. John restaurant in London, England, and the dude has one of the best “meet the team” pages. If that is any indicator of how great a company is, I would say this must be a great company from my experience because they must know they are only as good as their staff. On top of that, I will also add that they have a cool logo. One of the only businesses, if they had a shirt, I would wear it.
- Some of the brands carried are Haruyuki, Masakage, Fujimoto, to Tojiro,
- Location: Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver, Canada (brick and mortar and ecommerce).
- Web traffic: approx. 131.42k in the last 6-months (22k per month).
KORIN / NYC, NY
- Korin.com – based out of New York, I love this company and another Japanese kitchen supply store, but out of the two, Korin is very well known around the world as a cutlery store and for their knife sharpening services. If you have not heard of them, there are countless articles about them, but I would suggest checking out the Buzzfeed “$8 kitchen knife vs. $800 kitchen knife” video and Vice/Munchies “How to sharpen a knife with a Japanese master sharpener” video.
- Some of the brands carried are Korin (their own brand), Togiharu, Suisin, Nenox (Nenohi), Masamoto, Sohonten, Masanobu, Glestain, MAC, Sugimoto, and Kochi.
- Location: New York, NY (brick and mortar and e-commerce)
- Web traffic: approx. 110.29k in the last 6-months (18k per month).
MTC KITCHEN / NYC, NY
- MTCKitchen.com – if you read any of my other posts, you might know that I really do love MTC, but I deal with them on a B2B level because Mutual Trading Company is the premier Japanese food, alcohol beverage, and restaurant supply specialist.
- Some of the brands carried are Takamura, Tsukiji Masamoto, Nenox, Haku, Sukenari, Kintaro, Sakai Takayuki, Aritsugu, Misono, Seki Kanetsugu, Sakon, Shun, Global, Ikkaku Donryu, Caddie, Ajimisaku, and Kyocera.
- Location: New York, NY (brick and mortar and e-commerce)
- Web traffic: approx. 91.08k in the last 6-months (15k per month).
- Many of the businesses listed will offer up blade sharpening from Japanese Knife Imports in Beverly Hills, Carbon Knife Co in Denver, Korin in New York, to Bernal Cutlery in San Francisco, California. Pricing will vary depending on whether or not you have a double-bevel, single bevel, or if you are looking to repair a blade (broken tip to a chip).
I know very little, so if you want to learn a thing or two more from people who know, these resources, along with the numerous amazing vendors listed above, are where you want to go.
- Onthegas.org – this site is amazing because the content comes off very balanced without coming across as biased or with an agenda like one of the supposed “knife review” websites.
- Reddit/chefknives – you should not be surprised to find that Reddit is a good resource when researching.
- TheChefDojo.com – I got to support this dude because his goal is to become the ultimate FREE resource to learn Japanese cooking. Plus, he sounds a lot like me although he lived in Japan for a couple years, so he’ll bring that experience to the table.
- Burrfection – there’s a ton of great videos by Burrfection, but I highly recommend you watch this video specifically “How To Spot a Fake Japanese Knife Scam” because I, unfortunately, watched it after I did the research. In only 7mins, he covers the vast majority of my conclusions which I’m SMH at for not doing first. Having watched his vid, I would have ramped up a whole lot quicker.
- Outdoor Chef life – how could a YouTube channel not make it as a resource and this is just one because there are many more. Except Taku and Jocelyn just have to be added.
- Life Where I’m From – “How Japanese knives are made – over 700 years ago, a katana master from Kyoto was searching for the perfect place to make katanas, found that Echizen had the best water and ingredients, and set up shop.“
Hopefully this helps, now just don’t cut yourself. Also, if you would like to support this site, please share this content to get the word out because as G.I. Joe said one too many Saturdays “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”