The Best Japanese Knife Brands, Not Said So by Your Mom, an Influencer, or a Paid Shill

There are endless amounts of media outlets to bloggers touting the ‘best’ Japanese chef/kitchen knife brands, and they are all doing it for a buck. A buck literally because they will sell out for almost nothing for Insta’fame to a small Amazon Affiliate slice. Well, as for myself, I don’t give a buuuuuuck, so this is what I got for you.

I am delivering up almost every Japanese knife brand because I am not limited to brands that I get a kickback or profit from, so you are getting the mother of all lists. These are all products by Japanese producers, blacksmiths, and sharpeners carried by prominent knife dealers from Japan, Canada, to the United States.

Photo Description: the title reads "A Network of Craftsmen and Quality Products"

So Who Should You Believe? Well, All the Businesses Doing It for a Buck (Hey, I’m Not Being Hypocritical, Just Hear Me Out)

There is an infographic of a product that implies their products are made in Japan, and in it, they tout how they cut out the middle man. All of their product is sold online through their website, Amazon, or on sites like Aliexpress. They say they pass those savings on to you, which is ridiculous because what they do is spend all that money on shipping each product out individually to you. Additionally, the rest of that middle man money is spent on marketing via advertising and paying off bloggers/vloggers and narcissistic influencers. So you can put your trust in these companies, who may or may not back their product, or you can support these long-established businesses and networks by individuals who have dedicated their lives to this industry.

Established/Founded in (Knife Dealers):
Bernal Cutlery (San Francisco, CA), 2005
Chef Knives to Go (Madison, WI), 2002
Japanese Chef Knife
(Seki City, JP), 2003
Japanese Knife Imports (Beverly Hills, CA), 2010
Knifewear (throughout Canada), 2008
Korin Knives (New York, NY), 1982
MTC (New York, NY), 1926
Saito Knives (Brisbane, AU), 2007
Seisuke/Japanny (Portland, OR), 2014

Photo Description: "The Japanese Knife Brand Best for You." Title graphic.

If you are here to find the “best Japanese knife brands,” let me ask you which is the ‘best Japanese car brand,’ or ‘what is the best beer brand?’ If you can not answer that, it’s because the answer is nuanced, and what you are looking for is “which Japanese knife is best for me.”

So how do you determine which knife is best for you? Well, if you have no clue, I highly suggest you visit a specialty knife shop because they will help guide you through your purchasing decision. Although, if you are willing to put the time in, you can go through this massive list on your own and research each one because I will not give you some B.S. list of the “top 5″ or ” best 10.” Not providing you an “easy” option goes against my own best interests because the Google algorithm favors content that will make it easier for you to decide which product to purchase. So whichever direction you choose to take, at least you have an aggregated list of almost every major Japanese knife brand on one page, but I hope you lean on the expertise of a local knife shop or an online businesses.

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If You Are Cheap AF Bargain Lover

There are many cost-effective, quality Japanese-made knives. Although if you want something to tout to your friends that you got something hyped as costing $2,500, yet you paid $275, then none of the brands below will appeal to you, even if they are affordable. I say that because you are all about bargains (25%, 50%, to 150% off), and the appeal of these brands won’t do it for you because you will convince yourself that your Mr. Miyagi Asa Akira Samurai series knife is the “best knife ever.” FYI, I am cool with that, although this blog post helps our not-so-cheap homies.

The brands below are large Japanese producers to small craftsmen, blacksmiths, and sharpeners. Due to the quality of these products, numerous companies with products produced in China will often brand their products as Japanese. This list will help you avoid those deceptive brands.

Photo Description: the title reads "durability, care, and maintenance of knives."

I reached out to a young buck who grew up in Sakai City, and I asked him a bit about the Japanese knife industry and here is a bit he brought up.

In the automotive industry, if I asked somebody if they wanted a street or a race set-up, they would typically say ‘race’ with absolutely no clue what that meant. Brake dust, squeaky brakes, to ride quality were later complaints, and the same goes for what chef Seigo Tamura had brought up about intended use: a casual cook vs. a chef utilizing their knives daily. Some knives may require more or delicate care to maintain (also, another point that he brought up was regional style differences such as with a nakiri since he’s out of Osaka).

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These Are the Most Prominent Japanese Knife Brands Carried by Some of the Most Reputable Knife Shops and Online Sellers

I can not believe I did this tedious eff’n list, but I learned a lot from the research that took forever to do. It is nowhere near a comprehensive and complete list, although a vast majority of the most sought after brands are listed (and vetted by reputable businesses in Portland, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Denver, Madison, Canada, to Japan).

These are the Japanese knife brands that are owned/operated and made in Japan

“Kameyama has sold over 260,000 of these knives in Japan. The blade of this gyuto is perforated to aid in clean separation of food from the blade.”
$42 – MTC
Aritsugu“Aritsugu is established by Fujiwara-no Aritsugu, a gifted sword craftsman more than 460 years ago (established in 1560). Today, Aritsugu is known as one of the best knife makers in Japan and has gained the highest reputation by top Japanese chefs. Aritsugu’s handcrafted knives are surprisingly sharp, well balanced and will fit in your hand smoothly.”  – Saito Knives
Ashi Hamono“Ashi Hamono was established in 1948 in Sakai City Japan; a major center of traditional knife making.  Ashi makes knives utilizing a one piece of steel (rather than forge laminated 2/3 layer blade), called zenkou construction. Ashi’s Ginga line is famous for it’s thinness and precision, utilizing top quality carbon and stainless steels. These knives have an excellent fit and finish, from their grinding to heat treatment and hafting.” – Bernal Cutlery
“Since 1957, the Caddie series by Hokiyama has been an affordable, standard and basic knife perfect for home use. It was named after golf caddies in hopes that it would offer reliable support in the kitchen. AUS-8 stainless steel is used for all Caddy – Classic series. With the addition of Molybdenum and Vanadium, the alloyed steel is capable of reaching 60 HRc while maintaining a very stable structure and good abrasion resistance, meaning edge will last longer than many comparable knives.” – MTC
“Fujimoto knives are the future of Japanese knife making, due to the efficiency and modern approach used by their makers. The knives are all created by master crafts-people in the city of Sanjo. Each individual in the line of production focuses on a specific skill that they have been mastering for years.” – Knifewear
Fujiwara Kanefusa“The famous Swordsmith, Kanefusa Fujiwara is now a 26th generation of the sword making family in Seki city with over 800 years of history and tradition. One of the family members has been producing high quality Kitchen knives, inheriting the technology of Japanese sword making. Kanefusa kitchen knives has earned a high reputation for the excellent quality and affordable price. A soul of the swordsmith is alive in the Kanefusa knives!” – JCK
Gihei“Established in 1928, Gihei is one of the innovative small blacksmith shops working in Niigata Prefecture today. The owner, Atsushi Hosokawa, has been very proactive in using and developing knives with the best steels available such as ZDP189 and HAP40 and others.” – CKTG
$195-$235, $398-$468

Glestain“Glestain knives can be recognized by their patented hollow ground design. The dimples on the blade’s surface prevent ingredients from sticking, allowing for faster, easier, and more efficient cutting. Glestain blades are constructed out of Acuto 440 steel, which undergoes a sub-zero manufacturing process to ensure a durable edge. Some styles feature a stainless steel cap on the bottom of the water resistant hardwood handle that can be used for opening shellfish shells.” – Korin
“From its modest inception, GLOBAL has developed into one of the most successful brands of professional kitchen knives in the world. Still crafted by hand in Yoshikin’s factory in Niigata, Japan, GLOBAL knives are manufactured to extremely high and exacting standards. GLOBAL has attracted much acclaim over the years and received numerous awards.” – Global
$60-130 (Classic)
Crate & Barrel
Sur la table
Haruyuki“In most of the world, a ‘factory-made’ knife is made entirely by machines. Not so in Japan. A company like Haruyuki is made of expert crafts people, each one a master of their trade. Despite being known as ‘factory-made knives’, Haruyuki knives are very much crafted by human hands, each pair responsible for a different step of the process.” – Knifewear
Hattori“Ichiro Hattori, he is now 80 years old. His knife making career has started at the age of 18, when he joined his farther’s kitchen knife factory “Masahiro” in Seki. In 1971, he has opened his own workshop and started producing his own brand high quality kitchen knives and hunting knives. The “Hattori” brand knives have quickly gained great reputations from the end-users both in domestic and overseas for the finest workmanship.” – JCK
$156-$387, $414
(Tsukasa &
“The outstanding forged knives by Echigo Forge-Smiths, Master Tsukasa Hinoura and his son, Mutsumi Hinoura are the top notch in every aspect. We call it “Honed Beauty”, that expresses their soul and passion backed by the solid skills and timeless work.”
Hiromoto“Master Futoshi Nagao has spent tremendous times to study each characteristic of steel chemicals. After trial and error in forging and heat treatment processes, he has succeeded in obtaining the utmost performance of the steel. This is the collection of high performance knives in sharpness and durability from his passion to make ultimate knives.” – JCK
Distributor: “supplier of high-end Japanese kitchen knives and sharpening tools to experienced retail shops. Their product line consists of T10&TP, SB Kuro, and their Tanaka Blacksmith x Kyuzo Sharpener.” – Hitohira-Japan
They carry a number of brands from their own line, Hitohira. Additionally, they also carry Jiro, Morihei, Takada no hamano, Kanatoko, Daitoku, Kanehide, Masafune, Kogetsu, Misuzu, Tsubaya, Oboro, Masakane, Tadokoro, Sukehisa, Fujiwara Yoshiaki 2nd, Takeda, Shigefusa, Genkai, Taihei, Higonokami, Iwasaki, Ajikataya, Tsukasa, Masahiro, Yoshiaki Doi.
Multiple dealers throughout the world
Ikkaku Donryu“This rust-resistant santoku is a good value for both home and professional cooks. It is the most popular choice for those who want a basic, multipurpose and quality Japanese knife without splurging. The blade of Ikkaku Donryu knives come sharper than Western-style knives that cost much more. You will notice rough sharpening patterns on the blade but please be aware that this was done intentionally to make sharpening easier later.” – MTC
Iseya“ISEYA brand by Seto Cutlery MFG Co.,Ltd. has been cultivated in the 800-year historical blade capital of SEKI city, Japan.” – Hocho Knife 
JCK’s original design and brand collection is a collaboration with select Japanese craftsmen. Featuring the “fu-rin-ka-zan” brand with a wide selection of high quality Japanese style hand forged wa-bocho. Each knife is backed by our JCK guarantee for the quality and valuable price.  
Feel the tradition and taste of Japan from these distinctive Japanese traditional wa-bocho hand forged by Japan’s top blacksmiths and master craftsmen. The wide selection of blades matched with Japan’s premium steels ZDP-189, Aogami Super, and more.
JCK’s original design and brand collection is a collaboration with select Japanese craftsmen. Featuring the “ka-ga-ya-ki” brand for wide selection of high quality western style knives for serious home chefs and professionals. Each knife is backed by JCK guarantee for the quality and valuable price. 
Working closely with a special selection of Japan’s most talented and experienced blade smiths and craftsmen, JCK has steadily built up both the quality and affordable price range knives under our JCK original kagayaki brand.
Get the joy of beauty, craftsmanship and cost performance by owning one of the “kagayaki” brand Western style knives produced by JCK Original. Here are the pinnacle of Japanese yo-bocho proudly recommended by JCK.  
“Jikko was established in 1901 in the Japanese city of Sakai located in the Osaka prefecture. Sakai is a well know as city where a number of Japan’s top quality knives are produced. We are one of the few manufacturers in the Sakai region who have such a long history and are considered as one of the top knife manufactures within the Sakai region.” – Jikko
Jin“The maker of the Jin knives was born in Tokyo before World War II and began making knives early on in his life.  We met with him some years ago, during our first business trip to Japan.  After a very nice meeting with him, we were lucky enough to be allowed to carry his knives.  At the time we met him, he was already retired, so his knives are all new old stock (unused and new, but produced years ago).  Sadly, this craftsman passed away at the end of 2015.” – JKI 
“Medium weight, thin behind the edge, nice distal taper, hand-forged, etc.  After some testing, we finally got something we were happy with.  These knives are a bit more sturdy than some of the super thin knives we sell.” – JKI 
“The Hotaru series is a super thin SG2 (powdered stainless steel) from the Takefu region of Fukui Prefecture. The goal of this series was to create a very thin, relatively tall, and stainless series that would be easy to use and care for. They are relatively easy to sharpen, take a nice edge, hold it for a very long time, and move through food quite easily. The brushed finish runs from heel to tip, making it easy to clean up and maintain for end users at home. They feature ho wood octagon handles and rounded spines and choils, making them very comfortable in hand. We hope you enjoy this offering designed and made together with one of the younger craftsmen from the Takefu area.” – JKI
“The Ikazuchi series is a JKI original line. We have made a thin stainless clad knife with a blue super, or aogami super, core. Blue super is known for having excellent edge retention, and this is no exception. These knife will easily move through tall, dense, and harder food items, like potatoes, celery root, and carrots, with great ease. They come with ho wood octagon handles and ho wood sayas.” – JKI
Kaji-bei“Kaji-Bei knives are forged and ground in a small workshop behind the smith’s house in Sanjo Niigata. Bei-san specializes in smaller knives with a good portion of the makiri (fisherman’s knives) used in Japan coming from his small workshop.” – Bernal Cutlery
Kanehide“Made in Seki City Japan for the Japanese food service industry. A good no-frills workhorse made from good quality materials.”
Katsushige Anryu“With over 50 years of blacksmithing under his belt, Katsushige Anryu doesn’t mess around, blacksmithing is in his blood. He’s always striving to make better knives, so as to please the chefs that use them. In 1959, after graduating high school, he started apprenticing under his father, carrying on a family tradition of forging knives that has carried on since 1870. Awesome.” – Knifewear
$90-243, $175-$492
Established in 1267 in Nara, Japan. Kikuichi Cutlery has been producing handmade Japanese blades for over 750 years. Using samurai sword making techniques, our Japanese kitchen knives are revered by chefs worldwide. A minimum of 4 master craftsmen work on each knife before it is ready for our logo and the chrysanthemum-straight line (kiku-ichimonji) symbol.
Kintaro“Kintarō knives are produced in Takefu knife village in Fukui Japan by a blacksmith collective headed by Yoshimi Kato, the son-in-law of Hiroshi Kato. Yoshimi Kato has stepped in to fill his father-in-law’s shoes and has done so admirably, producing knives with a high level of attention to detail. Kintarō produces some of the most desirable carbon steel knives available in the United States today and we’re excited to be carrying them.” – MTC
Kohetsu“Kohetsu is a name that loosely translates to “bring happiness and pleasure” or just “be happy.” We hope by making these knives they will do just that for you. Kohetsu knives are about bringing you the best cutting performance using the top steels on the market with impeccable heat treatment and nice, thin grinds at an affordable price. This line has taken us over a year to develop and we think the effort has been worth it. Once you try a Kohetsu we hope it brings you years of cutting pleasure.” – CKTG
Konosuke“Konosuke, a Sakai-based company, works with top skilled blacksmiths from all over Japan to create unique, top quality kitchen cutlery. Konosuke’s knives spare no attention to detail, from the heat treatment and grinds to the packaging. 
Their focus is on knives forged in their hometown of Sakai City, where the Kawamura family and parent company Kaneshige has operated for many generations. They have also started to work with smiths from Sanjo as well.” – Bernal
“Kochi is one of Korin’s house brands designed by Japan’s most recognized Grand Master Sharpener Shouzou Mizuyama in collaboration with Korin’s Knife Master Chiharu Sugai. It took five years to find highly skilled craftsmen who could represent Korin and forge a knife based on the ideals of the two sharpeners. The Kochi knives are crafted with blue steel #2 which is a mixture of chromium, tungsten, and white steel #2. The addition of chromium and tungsten creates a harder steel, providing a good compromise for those who want a carbon knife with a longer edge retention than white steel.” – Korin
“Togiharu is Korin’s house brand and was created with the user in mind. The Togiharu brand was created for functionality and is Korin’s most affordable brand of knives. The brand name was derived from Grand Master sharpener Shouzou Mizuyama’s father’s sharpening store. Master Mizuyama’s father was a celebrated sharpener in his own right, having received recognition from the emperor for his traditional sharpening skills. Togiharu knives are produced by a highly respected knife maker in Japan who manufactures the top-name Japanese brands. The difference in the Togiharu lines lies in the quality control and hand-finishing aspects of production. These knives are inspected one-by-one for quality – they are not mass handled. The final edge finishing process is done by hand, ensuring unparalleled sharpness right out of the box.” – Korin
$89.50-$189.50-$228, $275
Kunihira“Kunihira is a small company with a desire to produce the best knives possible at the most affordable price. While there is less variation in size and shape of the blades they produce, their quality is unmatched. Kunihira uses high quality materials to produce knives that will outperform their competition and make a great addition to any knife kit, whether you’re a home cook or professional chef.” – Seisuke
(Yu Kurosaki)
“Yu Kurosaki makes very sharp kitchen knives with unique & stylish design on his blades. His knives are not only super practical, great looking but also demonstrates some of the best traditional Japanese forging technique. He is still eager to innovate new design and materials to pursue his ideals. We recommend you to try his piece of work.” – Hocho Knife
“Kyocera’s comprehensive experience and capabilities in advanced ceramic technology have enabled us to develop kitchen tools and cutlery that are of high-quality and performance. Developed and manufactured in Japan, Kyocera’s proprietary blade technology has become the benchmark in many key industries and is considered the leading brand in ceramic knives and kitchen tools.” – Kyocera
Bed Bath & Beyond
(MAC Knife)
“MAC knives are precision tools that are shaped, assembled, polished, and sharpened by professional Japanese craftsmen.  Unlike some of our competitors, every step in our knifemaking process is performed in Japan using Japanese products.  Each knife is equipped with a razor-sharp edge, comfortable handles, and great balance.  Popular with professional cooks and cooking enthusiasts throughout the world, and over 25 million knives sold since 1964.” – MAC
MasafuneCarbon steel, Seki-Gifu/Japan, mono SK-5, rosewood western.
Masakage“Masakage Knives was founded in 2007 by Takayuki Shibata, one of Japan’s best knife sharpeners. It was his goal to help the Master Blacksmiths of Takefu Knife Village showcase their talent and their mind-blowingly sharp knives. These knives hold their edge for an extremely long time, are easy to sharpen and are among the most beautiful blades you’ll ever see.” – Knifewear
Masamoto Sohonten
“Minosuke Matsuzawa, the founder of the Masamoto Sohonten Company started making Japanese knives in 1866. It was his dream that his family would come to be remembered as knife craftsmen throughout the generations. Now, five generations later, Matsuzawa’s vision has been realized and professionally crafted Masamoto knives have become widely regarded as the finest knives made for professional use. More detail about Masamoto Sohonten.” – Korin
$112-441(1,140), $760-$2,650
Masanobu“Masanobu knives are made out of a VG-10 cobalt stain resistant steel blade and a pressed wood handle with a metal bolster to provide exceptionally balanced weight. This line was developed by combining traditional Japanese knife aesthetics with state of the art computerized laser processing technology. The VG-10 cobalt blade is one of the highest quality steels used in knife production and has excellent edge retention. Masanobu knives are available in the standard and Damascus styles. Masanobu Damascus knives are laser printed to have a Damascus look and without sacrificing sharpness. Left-handed users must have Masanobu Damascus line knives converted for left-handed use.” – Korin
$195-$430, $185-$398
Misono“Misono was established in 1935, and the company has been kept a small, exclusively family-owned business for decades. The company began as a kitchen tool blade maker for vegetable peelers. Misono did not begin producing their own knives until the late 1960s. Today Misono is Japan’s oldest Western-style knife maker, with only fifty workers producing 150,000 knives a year. While many larger companies send knives to other manufacturers to have specialists make different parts of a knife, Misono produces 100% of their knives in house with extreme attention to detail for quality assurance. Misono’s production process is very similar to that of traditional Japanese style knives, as they are largely made by hand. Misono ensures long-lasting edge retention for professional use by using hard steel and hand finished sharpening. To guarantee that all Misono knives are of the highest quality, knives do not leave the company without passing several levels of inspections.” – Korin
$102-$339, $249.50-$529
Miyako“Miyako knives are made to represent the splendor of classic Japanese knives. Damascus steel is used to craft these beautiful cutlery. To achieve a subtle luster, matte finish is applied after polishing and razor sharp blades are always achieved by the artisans producing these knives. Take pride in owning this line of superb knives as their handles present unique and stylish designs.” – Seisuke
“Founded in 1872 by Mastersmith, Torakichi Mizuno in Sakai City, Osaka, famous for producing the traditional Japanese style Chef’s knives called “SAKAI UCHI”, Mizuno Tanrenjo has been turning out a masterpiece of the Wa Bocho (the traditional Japanese style Chef’s knives) for the professional chef’s in four generations. Currently 3rd generation Mizuno Akiharu, 4th generation Mizuno Yasuyuki and 5th generation Jyun Mizuno are engaged in crafting Mizuno knives inheriting Mizuno tradition.” – JCK
Moritaka“Moritaka Hamono was founded in 1293 and have been producing high quality blades for 31 generations. I think they know what they’re doing by now. Five generations ago the family made the switch to producing only Hocho (kitchen knives).The knives made by the Moritaka family have a real classiness and beauty.” – Knifewear 
Mr. Itou“Mr. Itou is now 77 years old and in the near future he will end his career as a custom knife make. He creates unique and one-of-a-kind custom kitchen knives with rare and exotic handle materials which are amazingly sharp knives as well as the unique appearance.” – JCK
Mutsumi Hinoura“Mutsumi Hinoura is a fourth generation blacksmith who has been training and working with his father, master smith Tsukasa Hinoura, since 2001, in Sanjo. His knives are similar, with good distal tapers and wide kiriba style bevels, and really wonderful heat treatments. They both have a lot of experience with hunting and outdoor knives, and their kitchen knives seem to carry some of the same qualities of toughness.”
Japanese Nakamura
“The Kaishin knives are our original brand for Japanese knives. Kai (魁) means a pioneer. Shin (心) means a spirit.
To make these knives, we teamed up with traditional black smith and seasoned sharpening maker. Together both do what they are good at, and they are turning out awesomeness. Nakamura make the handle and install blade. These knives are crazy sharp.” – Nakamura
$163-$388, $640, $1,760
Nenox (Nenohi)
“When Norio Sawada established Nenohi in 1975, he aspired to create Japanese knives that would be appreciated by the world. Current president and owner of Nenohi, Yusuke Sawada, was born and raised around kitchen knives in Sakai, Japan, a city known for its knife craftsmanship. He learned the traditional techniques of knife forging and sharpening while he was still a student, in hopes of one day becoming a craftsman. Although, he was not able to attain his dream, he used the skills and knowledge he gained from this training to constantly improve the Nenohi company.”
“Brushed with 99.9% pure 24k gold, this collection of beautiful cheeseboard knives is made in Japan. Each knife is unique, hand-crafted, and slightly different from the one that came before it, and the one that was made after.”
Shizu Hamono
“Ryusen Hamono was founded in 1948 as a knife sharpening company. They worked with companies like Takefu Special Steel as early as the 1970s to develop high-quality knives made with stainless steel, at a time when most other knife makers were struggling to produce decent stainless steel knives. Now, they have expanded their collection of knives not only having sharpness and longevity in mind but with a sleek modern design.”
“Sakai Traditional Blades is a traditional craft of which Japan is proud. In Japan, Sakai Traditional Blades has been known that it has 90% of shares of industrial knives which professional chefs use. It has been gaining a massive popularity among top-class chefs from all over the world following the worldwide Japanese food boom of late years.
In the seek of publicity of “Sakai” brand and the local industry promotion, the city has been working on expanding overseas market of traditional Sakai products including “Sakai Traditional Blades” which excel in the quality.”
Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center
Sakai Takayuki“Sakai Takayuki Knives by Aoki Hamono has been cultivated through a long 600-year history in Sakai which is a city known best as a home of cutlery for the professionals in Japan. 
The feature of Sakai Takayuki is in the sharp-durable edge made by careful forging and polishing by Japanese timeless-traditional technology by skilled swordsmiths. 
Each knife is hand sharpened to ensure maximum sharpness out of the box. We highly recommend you to once experience the Takayuki quality.” – Hocho Knife
“The Ryuga series from Sakon brand was developed by Hokiyama Cutlery to respond to the growing demand for knives made with high speed powdered steel. After years of research and development, they finally released Ryuga. Despite its simple look, the Ryuga line is a top quality line of knives that can be used for any purpose. While the spine is thick, the edge of the blade is thin, so this knife is suitable for both rough and fine knife cuts, and has excellent edge retention.” – MTC
Seki Kanetsugu“Seki Kanetsugu is a knife maker in Seki, whose ancestor was a famous swordsmith Kanetsugu (1336-1392). The company itself was founded in 1819 and celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2019. To celebrate their 100th year, they launched a knife line called “Zuiun”.  Although their knives are considered to be a machine-forged knife, they are done so to the highest level.”
$32-$49, $67-$324
Shun Kai
“Classic features beautiful Damascus-clad blades with a cutting core of Shun’s proprietary VG-MAX stainless steel and D-shaped PakkaWood handles. Classic also offers the widest assortment of traditional culinary blade shapes and cutting-edge designs.”
$54.95-$313 (Classic)
Cutlery and More
Sur La Table
Willians Sonoma
(Takayuki Shibata)
Shibata Knives
“Takayuki Shibata is turning out some excellent quality knives with premium steels and excellent grinds. His first offering is a nice series of SG-2 stainless knives called Kotetsu. They are thin, evenly ground lasers with excellent cutting performance.” 
Tokyo Sugimoto
“Sugimoto is one of the high-class manufacturer for professional use from 1930s in Tokyo, Japan, who is the first to begin producing Western and Chinese-style knives. The blades are made of well-selected steel, that realizes good sharpness and durability at a reasonable price for Professional use.” – Hocho Knife
Korin (cleaver)
Suien“Suien has been made famous in the knife community for offering great quality at a great value. They are most well known for their Suien VC Chinese Cleaver. This gyuto is made of solid blue #2. It is high carbon steel, so it can rust if not cared for properly. Suien aims for 62-63 hRC on these knives.” – JKI
JCK (cleaver)
Sukenari“The 80 years traditional forging techniques are now fused with state-of-the-art new steel, resulting the finest kitchen knives of the next generation.” – JCK
$247-$524, $988-$1,140
Takamura“Takamura Hamono are best known for their High Speed Powdered Steel (R2) offerings, but they are also experts at other common stainless knife steel including the ubiquitous VG-10. These knives feature a Tsuchime (hammered) finish which is both aesthetically pleasing and adds a modicum of food release. Takamura’s expert grind and heat treatment means less wedging on tall, dense vegetables and ease of maintenance and sharpening over the life of the knife. This is one of our favorite knives for those looking to foray into Japanese knives and is sure to spark a desire to cut and to cook more.” – MTC
Takeda Hamono
“Takeda Hamono was founded in 1920 and moved to Niimi in 1951 and produces hand-forged blades and tools such as kitchen knives, hoes, hatchets, etc. The third generation master blacksmith, Shosui Takeda, has succeeded in forging blades from the high quality carbon steel called Aogami Super Steel (AS). His knives are forged by hand with his small staff of master smiths. Each blade holds its edge extraordinarily well and resharpens easily. All his knives have 50/50 edges and octagonal handles so they are good for either right-handed or left-handed users.” – CKTG
$163, $281-$658
Takeshi Saji“Echizen Blacksmith, Takeshi Saji is the leading knife maker in Takefu city, another town of cutlery. Creating unique kitchen knives with ingenious ideas and traditional technology in overwhelming power.” – JCK
“We continue to manufacture the highest quality knives in this region where the spirit and techniques of manufacturing have been handed down since ancient times. Tsubame, where TOJIRO is located, is a metal-processing industrial cluster area known as ‘Tsubame-Sanjo’.” – Tojiro
Tsukiji Masamoto“Long-established traditional cutlery shop for handcrafted speciality & kitchen knives & service. Many carbon steel knives are made using coke fuel but Tsukiji Masamoto knives are made using charcoal, which produces higher quality blades because of the gradual rather than abrupt temperature change. Tsukiji Masamoto pays special attention in creating a deeper urasuki (concave surface of the backside) to maximize its effect. Urasuki facilitates clean food separation from the blade, just like hollowed or perforated knives. This is why you can perform uraoshi (sharpening the backside of a single bevel knife to keep the outer edges leveled) on a coarse stone, unlike most other brands.
Created for slicing raw fish, this yanagi is also ideal for carving cooked meat, thinly slicing vegetables or portioning terrines and pates.” – MTC
Yoshihiro cutlery“Yoshihiro (Goh Umanosuke Yoshihiro) by Yamawaki Cutlery MFG., LTD has been cultivated through a long 600-year history in Sakai which is a city known best as a home of cutlery for the professionals in Japan. Each knife is hand sharpened to ensure maximum sharpness out of the box. We highly recommend you to once experience the Yamawaki quality.” – Hocho Knife
Zakuri“The Zakuri AS line of knives are constructed using the highest grade of carbon steel in the industry. Aogami Super is known as the king of carbon steels and is held in high regard by most knife lovers and users. The ability to accept and hold the sharpest of edges is one of the best attributes of Aogami Super knives. They also sharpen up with relative ease.” – CKTG 
$85-$175, $390

Breaking Down Brands by Categories

These are the biggest Japanese knife producers/brands:

  • KAI corp. (Shun/Kershaw/ZT), family owned, privately held.
  • Kyocera corp., 14.3B, ceramic knives, printers, solar, to ruggedized mobile devices.
  • MAC corp., I want to 2nd check the data I acquired prior to posting.
  • Tojiro Co., Ltd, so far, I have not found any revenue specifics although I will update.
  • Yoshikin/Yoshida Metal Industry (Global), private company.

Retailers (a lot of them do) with their own brands:

  • Korin, a Japanese American company in NYC.
  • Japanese Chefs Knife, a global retailer based out of Japan.

If You Are a Newbie and Really Want the Best Japanese Kitchen/Chef Knife, Once Again, I Highly Suggest You Visit a Reputable Dealer

What might be the best for one individual might not be the best option for you. Knives and tools of any type should be tailored around the user and intended use (I’m dropping knowledge).

Some people live and breathe every and all aspects of what makes a paring knife to a chef knife great, which is why you will want to lean on these folks, especially an in-store experience. Although, if your only option is to buy online, many, if not all of the products listed above, will be the way to go. Also, all of these online dealers and knife shops will be more than happy to assist you with your purchase.

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