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The Best Yanagiba Knife aka “the Best Sushi Knife” and the “Best Sashimi Knife”

“Best sushi and best sashimi knife” in my title are eluding to a yanagi or a yanagiba (the translation means “willow-leaf blade”) knife, which are for slicing boneless protein, like fish fillets. It is also what most sushi chefs are wielding behind the sushi counter, aside from tatted sleeves.

I am guessing you could be a home cook, but my main assumption is that you work BOH as a sushi chef. Whichever it is, you want a sushi-specific knife (a slicing knife), and this list has all the most popular yanagiba’s sold by the top five Japanese knife dealers in the world. 

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I put in the time and effort to provide you with the most comprehensive research (yea, bro, I do that) to help you deliberate on the best yanagiba knife because this is the level of information I expect.

I can not stand buying something and regretting it because I did not know all my options or was uninformed.
Photo Description: one of the yanagiba by Kadafusa hocho kobo. This is just one of the best yanagiba knives on aesthetics alone. The overall knife has almost a minimalist look to it. The handle is made of a semi-charcoaled chestnut wood.
Tadafusa Hocho Kobo HK-7, SLD Semi-Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Cladding, $144 by Fumie Shibata, an industrial designer (what I initially went to school for).

BTW, does a knife have to be Japanese-made? Nope, and I have included an American brand, Cangshan, with products made in China. They are one of the only legitimate brands with products made in China because they are an American-based company, and they are not like all the Chinese marketing brands that deceptively imply they are Japanese.

I do not have more products made elsewhere, especially in China, because there are too many bloggers, media outlets, and narcissistic influencers who ho themselves out for Chinese marketing brands out to fool their buyers.

So I am providing Japanese craftsmen a chance to compete because they have no clue what content/digital marketing is (in Japan, they still use fax machines and Yahoo is a top website). Yes, I am like the Luke Skywalker of the knife world, bringing balance.

Before I Produce a Blog Post, I Look at What is Already Out There

I started this blog because Bon Appetit and countless others were and still are producing some of the dumbest content. They cannot help but produce ad-driven content (sensationalism) or affiliate marketing-driven content (to sell products on Amazon).

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Most of the questionable content online have links to ONLY Amazon (these are the hack media outlets and bloggers), so that these entities can cash in on being an Amazon Associate which often promote deceptive Chinese marketing knife brands.

American, Japanese, and Canadian knife dealers do not carry Chinese marketing brands, so Chinese brands can only sell exclusively online or on Amazon.

Although, sometimes I come across decent content which I always highlight even if it is in direct competition with my Google ranking (yea, I don’t care, and I will always hype others that do good chit).

  • Cocklesandmussels.com: the article has several odd spelling errors (I usually do too), mistakes like “miki sushi” or a “yanagibi,” but it is a nicely done comprehensive overview.

4 Yanagiba Price Segments

I have structured the price segments to match previous sales because a lot of sales are in the several hundred dollar range. My guess is because I have vetted all the products and dealers, so you can rest assured that your money is not being spent on a crapshoot (like a sketchy brand on Amazon).

  1. $50-$150
  2. $150-$350
  3. $350-$750
  4. $750-$1,250+

Types of Steel/Brands Used by the Japanese

  • The types of steels used (the spectrum), on one end is stainless steel (where chromium is added for corrosion resistance/prevent rusting). The other end are high carbon knives which are prone to rusting, but are very hard (sharper and longer lasting edge retention).
  • Here are a few of the Japanese steels from SLD (by Hitachi), VG-10 (by Takefu), Shirogami 1/2/3 and Aogami 1/2 (white and blue steel by Hitachi) to ZDP-189 (also by Hitachi), a Japanese super steel made of a powder metallurgy.

The Top 5 Online Japanese Knife Dealers in the World

These are the top Japanese chef knife websites in the world by approximate web traffic.

  1. JapaneseChefsknife.com, Seki, Japan 
  2. Korin.com, New York City, NY
  3. Chefknivestogo.com, Fitchburg, WI
  4. Knifewear.com, throughout Canada
  5. Hocho-knife.com, Hyogo, Japan

Disclosure: I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you, but only 1-out of the 5 companies listed is an affiliate (two product links are as an Amazon Associate) because good content is legit content, and I do not stack the odds in my favor.

Tonkotsu/Tonkatsu, Bonsai/Banzai Confuses Many People, so Let Me Clear Up Yanagi vs. Yanagiba

So here are a few similar or related terms you should know:

  • Yanagi: means “willow” in Japanese.
  • Yanagiba(bocho): means “willow leaf blade” in Japanese.
  • Sujihiki: means “flesh slicer” (how is that for a name).
  • Bocho/hocho: means “knife.”
  • Sashimi: raw fish or meat often eaten raw with soy sauce.
  • Taniguchi: means “opening to the valley” (I thought I’d toss this one in).

Yanagi (the Sashimi Knife) vs. Sujihiki (the Carving Knife)

So which one do you buy?

  • The yanagi is a single bevel blade that is angled on only one-side. The side it is angled on depends if you are right or left-handed.
  • The sujihiki is a double beveled blade (it’s ambidextrous).

If you’re a sushi chef, a yanagiba is your go-to (must have), but if you are the average Joe/Jane that wants an all-around carving knife to carve da fock out of some boneless protein, the sujihiki is what you need. Also note, I left out a kiritsuke, takohiki, or a fuguhiki to not overcomplicate things because the above two are more than adequate.

Photo Description: this knife stands out because this kiritsuke has a black and white motif (handle). The saya is a matte black finish with a slight texture to it (almost like stucco drywall).
Not a yanagiba, and this is a kiritsuke which is like if a daddy yanagi made a baby with a mommy gyuto.
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In this blog post, I do have two Amazon links because I included Shun and Cangshan. Shun is a massive big box brand from Japan (sold in Sur la Table to Williams Sonoma), and Cangshan is an American brand with a products made in China, but they are unlike the deceptive Chinese marketing brands.

Shun is a brand by the KAI group founded in 1908 in Seki city, Japan, and Cangshan is headquartered in Chino, CA, the land of chicken/dairy farms and a prison.
Photo Description:
(Top Left) Cangshan, (Top Right) Iseya, (Bottom Left) Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan, (Bottom Right) Kanetsugu 

With Japanese products, you get what you pay for. They do not play a smoke and mirrors game where you are getting a $2,500 product for only $49.95 with a fancy box (I have a blog article about how this is part of the culture and what “made in Japan” means).

Photo Description:
(Top Left) Masahiro, (Top Right) Fujiwara Kanefusa, (Bottom Left) Tojiro, (Bottom Right) Shikisai.

Yanagi Knives from $50-$150

BRANDPRICESIZE/BLADE MATERIAL
Masahiro$69.99240mm/9.4″
Stainless steel.
Made in Japan.
Kanetsugu$70210mm to 270mm, 3 sizes
Hybrid Wa Bocho Series Yanagiba.
Tojiro$81240mm/9.4″
MV Stainless.
Made in Sanjo City Japan.
Iseya$96.99210mm/8.3″
I-series 33 Layer VG-10 Damascus Hammered.
Made in Japan.
Tojiro$109.99210mm/8.3″
Japanese-Style Shirogami White.
Made in Japan.
Fujiwara$121180mm to 300mm, 5 sizes
Kanefusa FKJ Series Yanagiba.
Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan$135240mm to 300mm, 3 sizes
Kurouchi White Steel No.2 Series Yanagiba (D Shaped Red-Sandal Wood Handle with Black Pakka Wood Ferrules).
Cangshan$135.95254mm/10.0″
J Series 62786 X-7 Steel Sashimi Chef Knife With Walnut Sheath.
Tadafusa
(Hocho Kobo)
$144210mm/8.3″
Kobo HK-7, SLD Semi-Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Cladding.
Shikisai$147.99240mm/9.4″
MIYAKO 33 Layer Damascus (AUS8). 
Pricing and availability are subject to change. Also, due to the popularity of these knives, they go quick (often out of stock).
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If you are like Ned Flanders (the Simpsons), and you are left-handed, make sure you buy the correct knife for a left-handed user.

The flat part should be on the left-hand side (most knives are on the right side, for right-handed users).

Yanagi Knives from $150-$350

BRANDPRICESIZE/BLADE MATERIAL
Sakai
(Takayuki)
$220.99270mm/10.6″
33-Layer VG10 Damascus Hammered Stainless Steel, VG10 Alloy Core.
Made in Japan.
Sakai$249300mm/11.8″
White #2 (Hitachi), the blade is formed from a combination of two different steels, a softer outer jacket of steel wrapped around an inner core of harder steel.
Masamoto$252210mm to 330mm, 5 sizes
KK Series Kasumi White Steel No.2 Yanagiba
Tojiro$361.99270mm/10.6″
Shirogami White Steel.
Made in Japan.
Pricing and availability are subject to change. Also, due to the popularity of these knives, they go quick (often out of stock).
Photo Description:
Tojiro Japanese-Style Shirogami White Steel Chef’s Yanagiba (Sashimi) 210mm
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These are the most popular products by the 4 TOP dealers in the world. I do not cite 5, because Korin only carries a handful of brands, and they are primarily in the high-end price range ($350-$750), so they have been included regardless of their popularity.

The other products listed are the most popular in the overall product line-up.
Photo Description:
(Top Left) Sakai Takayuki, (Top Right) Yauji, (Middle Left) Shun, (Middle Right) Sakai Takayuki, (Bottom Left) Suisin Inox, and (Bottom Right) Masamoto.

Yanagi Knives from $350-$750

BRANDPRICESIZE/BLADE MATERIAL
Yauji$375300mm/11.8″
Blue (Aogami) #2 Damascus
Made in Echizen (Takefu), Japan
Nenohi
Nenox
$390300mm/11.8″
Special hongasumi, white Steel #2
Sakai
(Takayuki)
$531240mm/9.4″
Byakko, shirogami #1 (White Carbon Steel)core with Carbon Steel Cladding
Masamoto$550330mm/13″
Sohonten White #2 (carbon steel) Kasumi Yanagi
Shun$599267mm/10.5″
Dual Core,71 layers of two alternating, premium-quality stainless steels.
Suisin
Inox
$698300mm/11.8″
Honyaki, Stain-Resistant Steel
Sakai
(Takayuki)
$740270mm/10.6″
Ginryu Dragon Premium Honyaki, Top Class Swedish High Carbon Stainless Steel by Bohler-Uddeholm.
Made in Japan.
Pricing and availability are subject to change. Also, due to the popularity of these knives, they go quick (often out of stock).
Photo Description:
(Top Left) Sakai Kikumori, (Top Right) Masamoto, (Bottom Left) Sakai Takayuki, (Bottom Right) Yoshihiro.

Santoku Knives from $750-$1,250+

BRANDPRICESIZE/BLADE MATERIAL
Yoshihiro$875300mm/11.8″
Aogami No.1 Damascus Suminagashi B1SN-E, High Carbon Steel [Aoko or Blue Paper 1 steel] Core with Multi Layered Damascus Texture.
Made in Japan.
Masamoto$1,175270mm/10.6″
KH Damascus Honkasumi Gyokusei-ko, High Carbon Steel [Gyokusei-ko (Blue #2 Steel)] with Multi-Layered Damascus texture.
Made in Japan.
Sakai (Takayuki)$1,294300mm/11.8″
Mirrored Honyaki Water-Quenched Fuji-on-Wave Yanagiba and Saya SET, with Ebony Handle
Sakai
(Kikumori)
$2,810300mm/11.8″
Kikumori Shiroichi (white carbon) honkyaki fujiyama hamon
Pricing and availability are subject to change. Also, due to the popularity of these knives, they go quick (often out of stock).

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