• 10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022 1
  • 10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022 2
  • 10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022 3
  • 10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022 4
  • 10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022 5

10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives in 2022

If you're in search of a good knife that can cut, slice, or mince vegetables well, consider a Japanese vegetable knife. American knives tend to have a thicker blade suitable for chopping thick vegetables, but Japanese vegetable knives have a slimmer blade and will help you cut and slice through hard or soft vegetables like butter. However, there are different types of Japanese vegetable knives, and they can be made from stainless steel or carbon steel. 


To help you with your search, we've carefully created a list of the 10 best Japanese vegetable knives available online. Shun's Nakiri Knife is one of our favorites, as it's durable, sharp, and comfortable to hold. Knowing how tough it is to choose a product, we also compiled a buying guide with many tips to help you pick the right Japanese vegetable knife for yourself! 

Featured in this article

mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-22-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Japanese Vegetable Knife - Buying Guide

When choosing a Japanese vegetable knife, there are many points you have to take into consideration, including the material of the blade, its finish, and its hardness level. 

Choose a Nakiri or Usuba Blade Style

There are two kinds of Japanese vegetable knives: nakiri and usuba. Both are used for different purposes, so choose the type that suits your needs the most!  

Nakiri Knives for Chopping or Mincing Vegetables

Nakiri Knives for Chopping or Mincing Vegetables

Nakiri knives are double-beveled, meaning they have a slanted angle on both sides that goes down to the cutting edge. They allow you to slice through the vegetables without using a push or pull motion and are usually used for cutting, chopping, or mincing vegetables. 


Nakiri knives can be sharpened just like American knives. Plus, nakiri knives can be used by both left-handed and right-handed people. 

Usuba Knives for Making Thin Cuts or Decorative Garnishes

Usuba Knives for Making Thin Cuts or Decorative Garnishes

Usuba knives are single-beveled and sharper than nakiri knives. These knives are perfect for making extremely precise and thin cuts. They are also used for cutting decorative garnishes.


However, usuba knives are harder to use; they are typically used by professional chefs rather than home cooks. Since usuba knives are single-beveled, they do not work for both right- and left-handed people. You also have to be careful to sharpen the correct side of the blade!

Decide Between Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel

Japanese blades can be made from carbon steel or stainless steel. Each type has its pros and cons, namely regarding sharpness and durability.

Carbon Steel Is Strong but Prone to Rusting

Carbon Steel Is Strong but Prone to Rusting
If sharpness is your priority, look for a carbon steel knife. Professional chefs also prefer carbon steel knives as they can be honed to a razor-sharp edge for accurate and thin slicing

Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and contains more than one percent of carbon. It takes a sharper edge and can hold its edge longer than stainless steel. However, it is susceptible to rust and can break easily.


It's also not recommended to use a carbon steel blade to cut strong acidic foods like tomatoes, lemons, or oranges, as the acid from those foods might corrode the steel. Also, remember that carbon steel knives are not dishwasher-safe and should be hand-washed and dried immediately to preserve the quality. 

Carbon Steel Is Strong but Prone to Rusting

Some common types of carbon steel include white steel (shirogami) and blue steel (aogami). White steel has 1.25 to 1.35 percent of carbon. It's highly refined and contains a very low amount of impurities like sulfur or phosphorous. 


Due to the high carbon content, white steel is hard to forge and can rust easily. But it's very sharp and keeps its edge for a long time


Blue steel is white steel with added chromium and tungsten. It contains from 1.05 to 1.5 percent carbon. Although it's more expensive than white steel, it's more durable, corrosion-resistant, and stays sharp for even longer. Most carbon steel vegetable knives are made from blue steel. If your budget allows, we recommend blue steel.

Stainless Steel is Rust-Resistant and Durable

Stainless steel is an iron alloy with other elements like chromium and carbon. It contains a maximum of 1.2 percent carbon and at least 10.5 percent chromium. Stainless steel is not as strong or sharp as carbon steel. Plus, a stainless steel knife needs to be sharpened regularly to maintain its sharpness. 


However, itdoesn'tt rust easily thanks to the addition of chromium, which has strong corrosion-resistant properties. 


Overall, choose a stainless steel knife if you want something that can last a long time and doesn't rust easily. Most stainless steel knives are also dishwasher-safe and easy to clean, making them an excellent choice for home cooks.

Stainless Steel is Rust-Resistant and Durable

There are many different types of stainless steel, and they differ in sharpness and edge retention. VG-MAX is one of the best steels and has 1.1 percent carbon and 16 percent chromium. It's tough, highly corrosion-resistant, and has great edge retention. 


VG-10 is another excellent steel and has one percent carbon and 15 percent chromium. It isn't as sharp as VG-MAX but is very hard and can retain its edge well


AUS-10 steel is another common material containing 1.1 percent carbon and 14.5 percent chromium. It isn't as hard or corrosion-resistant as VG-10 or VG-MAX, but it's more affordable and still a decent choice! 

Make Sure the HRC Is Above 58

Make Sure the HRC Is Above 58

Another factor to consider is the hardness of the steel. One reliable way to know is to look at its Hardness Rockwell C (HRC) rating. As a rule of thumb, the higher the HRC number, the harder the steel. Typically, the HRC rating of Japanese vegetable knives ranges from 58 to 62.


Harder steel can take a sharper edge and retain it longer. However, it tends to be more brittle and gets chipped easily. On the other hand, softer steel is more durable and won't chip easily. But, softer options can't get sharp as steels with a high HRC rating.


If you tend to cut tough and big items like cabbage, choose a sharp knife as it will allow you to cut through tough vegetables without a lot of pressure. However, if you usually cut soft vegetables like tomatoes, a knife that's average in sharpness is probably enough. 

Make Sure the HRC Is Above 58

Get a knife with an HRC over 60 if you're looking for the sharpest knives. Blades made from blue steel, white steel, VG-MAX, and VG-10 usually have a hardness of more than 60 HRC. But, they are more prone to chipping.


A Japanese knife with an HRC rating of 58 to 60 offers better durability. AUS-10 steel typically has an HRC of 58 to 60. 


If you can't find the HRC information in the product's description, you can contact the manufacturer for more details. Reading through the reviews might also help you determine if the knife is durable.

Know the Differences Between Blade Finishes

Know the Differences Between Blade Finishes

Japanese vegetable knives usually have a finish for added strength, durability, and aesthetics. Finishes help reduce friction so that food easily releases from the blade


Damascus is one of the most common finishes and is well-known for its beautiful wavy patterns. To create a Damascus blade, multiple layers of steels are pressed and welded together. The more layers of steel there are, the tougher the knife is. 


Many blades have a tsuchime finish (hand-hammered finish), a traditional Japanese style of finish. After the blade has been formed, it undergoes a second hammering process that creates dimples and marks on the surface. 

Know the Differences Between Blade Finishes

Kurouchi finish (blacksmith's finish) knives are technically not polished and still have scaly residue from the forging process. They look black and rustic and feel pretty rough. Kurouchi knives are not expensive and are rust-resistant, but the finish can wear off if you use an abrasive cleaning material.


You will also find knives with a migaki finish (polished finish). However, migaki blades do not look as shiny as those with a mirror finish. Plus, scratches show up quite clearly on migaki knives.

Decide Between Wooden and G-10 Handles

Decide Between Wooden and G-10 Handles

Japanese knife handles can be made from wood or plastic. Wooden handles are durable, heat-resistant, and decay-resistant. Some common woods used to make Japanese knives include pakkawood, rosewood, and magnolia wood. 


However, keep in mind that wooden handles are a bit hard to care for. You have to wash them by hand and dry them immediately, or else they will rot or crack. It's important to apply wax to wooden handles a couple of times a year to seal them from water intrusion. 

If you don't like wooden handles, there are Japanese knife handles made with G-10. This material is made of fiberglass and epoxy resin, making it more durable and lightweight than wood. It's also easier to clean as it's dishwasher-safe. There are other types of plastic handles, but we recommend G-10 or wood.

10 Best Japanese Vegetable Knives

To get started finding the perfect Japanese vegetable knife, take a look at our choices! We selected them based on the factors listed in the buying guide below. 

Image
Shun  Nakiri Knife 1

Shun

Regalia Nakiri Vegetable Knife 1

Regalia

Sakai Takayuki  Nakiri Japanese Knife 1

Sakai Takayuki

Kyoku Nakiri Knife 1

Kyoku

Shun Premier Nakiri Knife 1

Shun

Sakai Takayuki Nakiri Japanese Knife 1

Sakai Takayuki

Kanetsune  Nakiri Japanese Knife  1

Kanetsune

Kikumori  VG10 Mirrored Finish Usuba Japanese Knife  1

Kikumori

Yu Kurosaki  Senko R2/SG2 Hammered Nakiri Knife  1

Yu Kurosaki

Sakai Takayuki Nakiri Japanese Knife  1

Sakai Takayuki

Name

Nakiri Knife

Nakiri Vegetable Knife

Nakiri Japanese Knife

Nakiri Knife

Premier Nakiri Knife

Nakiri Japanese Knife

Nakiri Japanese Knife

VG10 Mirrored Finish Usuba Japanese Knife

Senko R2/SG2 Hammered Nakiri Knife

Nakiri Japanese Knife

Features

Best Sharp Knife With 68 Layers of Damascus Steel

Best Ergonomic G10 Handle That Feels Comfortable

Best Durable, Rust-Resistant Construction

Best Knife With a Sheath and Durable Handle

Best Strong VG-MAX Steel Core

Best for the Beautiful Mirror Finish

Best Lightweight Carbon Steel Knife

Best Thin Blade That's Ideal for Slicing Vegetables Thinly

Best Blade With a High Hardness Level and Hammered Finish

Best Tough Blade That Holds Its Edge Well

Price$169.95$67.95$149.00$39.99$184.95$139.00$109.00$519.00$279.00$189.00
TypeNakiriNakiriNakiriNakiriNakiriNakiriNakiriUsubaNakiriNakiri
Blade materialVG-MAX stainless steelAUS-10 stainless steelVG10 stainless steel 440C stainless steel VG-MAX stainless steelAUS10 stainless steel Blue steelVG10 stainless steelR2/SG2 stainless steelVG10 stainless steel
HRCNot specified62+60-6259-60 Not specified59-6061-62Not specified62-6360-62
FinishDamascusDamascusDamascusNot specifiedDamascusDamascusNot specifiedMirrored finishHammered finishDamascus
Handle material Pakkawood G-10 black garolite Pakkawood Rosewood Pakkawood Pakkawood Magnolia woodMagnolia RosewoodKeyaki (Japanese elm)
Link
TypeNakiri
Blade materialVG-MAX stainless steel
HRCNot specified
FinishDamascus
Handle material Pakkawood

Sakai Takayuki Nakiri Japanese Knife

$149.00

TypeNakiri
Blade materialVG10 stainless steel
HRC60-62
FinishDamascus
Handle material Pakkawood
TypeNakiri
Blade material440C stainless steel
HRC59-60
FinishNot specified
Handle material Rosewood

Sakai TakayukiNakiri Japanese Knife

$139.00

TypeNakiri
Blade materialAUS10 stainless steel
HRC59-60
FinishDamascus
Handle material Pakkawood
TypeNakiri
Blade materialVG-MAX stainless steel
HRCNot specified
FinishDamascus
Handle material Pakkawood

Kikumori VG10 Mirrored Finish Usuba Japanese Knife

$519.00

TypeUsuba
Blade materialVG10 stainless steel
HRCNot specified
FinishMirrored finish
Handle material Magnolia

Yu Kurosaki Senko R2/SG2 Hammered Nakiri Knife

$279.00

TypeNakiri
Blade materialR2/SG2 stainless steel
HRC62-63
FinishHammered finish
Handle material Rosewood

Kanetsune Nakiri Japanese Knife

$109.00

TypeNakiri
Blade materialBlue steel
HRC61-62
FinishNot specified
Handle material Magnolia wood
TypeNakiri
Blade materialAUS-10 stainless steel
HRC62+
FinishDamascus
Handle material G-10 black garolite

Sakai TakayukiNakiri Japanese Knife

$189.00

TypeNakiri
Blade materialVG10 stainless steel
HRC60-62
FinishDamascus
Handle material Keyaki (Japanese elm)

Extra Tips

Extra Tips

Now that you've gotten a fancy Japanese vegetable knife, you'll want to take care of it in order to keep it in good condition. Sharper knives are not only easier to cut with, but they're also safer since the blade won't get caught on your food.


Even the sharpest vegetable knives that can keep their edge forever eventually will require sharpening. On top of that, since many nakiri knives are double-beveled, they require sharpening on both sides in order to maintain a clean, sharp edge. 


When sharpening a vegetable knife, it's crucial that you maintain the appropriate angle. It also requires some practice in terms of how much pressure you apply, as well as how you hold the knife itself. 


If you're not so sure about how well you can sharpen a knife, you can find a local knife sharpener near you. If you think you can do it yourself, we've got an article on the best Japanese knife sharpeners, so it might be a good idea to pick one up as a set with your knife if you don't already have one.

More Essential Kitchen Knives

Investing in the right knives is key for any home chef. To get started on rounding out your knife collection, take a look at our favorites below!

Author: Thuy Nguyen


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