Silverback Knives Shop

The World of Japanese Knives

Silverback Knives Shop

The World of Japanese Knives

Handcrafted Japanese Knives

In Japan, the traditional craftsmanship of knife and sword making has been maintained for many centuries. Not without reason, this tradition has survived to this day and continues to find new followers.

Japanese knives are the best performing knives in the world!

You will love these knives for their sharpness, precision and durability.
Explore our shop and find your Japanese knife!

THE JAPANESE KNIFE - THE KING OF THE KITCHEN

With this online shop we provide access to traditional Japanese knives. The knives we offer are selected with an absolute focus on exclusivity and the highest possible quality.

We always try to offer a variety of different steels and knife types in order to fulfill as many individual wishes as possible and to reflect the diversity of the Japanese knife culture.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES TRADITIONAL JAPANESE KITCHEN KNIVES FROM OTHERS?

A good Japanese knife is not cheap. Nevertheless, it is worth every penny. Because once you've had it in your hand, you won't want to give it up. This is also due to the outstanding sharpness of the knives, which cut through any food as through butter. In addition, it is a purchase for life, because such a knife you will still be able to inherit with a little care. The big difference between a normal - European - knife and a Japanese one is hidden in the construction of the blade. The blades of European knives are usually stamped from one piece of steel and then further processed. This results in a lower hardness of the steel (maximum 58 HRC). However, the hardness of a blade determines how sharp it can get. The harder the steel, the sharper the knife can be ground.

JAPANESE KNIVES - HAND FORGED AND EXTREMELY SHARP

However, the harder the steel, the easier the blade will break when overloaded. Therefore, hand-forged Japanese knives are made of three layers of steel. The two outer layers are relatively soft and thus protect the extremely hard core (up to 68 HRC). This results in a knife that is nevertheless flexible, with a very high hardness at the core and enormous sharpness at the cutting edge. European knives, on the other hand, have a distinct disadvantage in terms of sharpening potential and blade resistance due to the tougher, softer steel, so they become dull much more quickly. Traditional Japanese hand-forged kitchen knives have great edge-holding properties and do not need to be resharpened as often.

HAND-FORGED JAPANESE KNIVES ARE EXTREMELY DURABLE

With one of our knives you acquire a very durable product, which is clearly superior to European knives in terms of functionality (sharpness and edge retention). Compared to European knives, Japanese knives can also be recognized by their handle. The Japanese handles are generally lighter than European handles, the Japanese knives are therefore much better balanced (center of gravity much further towards the tip of the knife compared to European knives, where the center of gravity is often in the handle) and generally more agile and precise. They can be controlled much easier and more intuitive. Natural wood handles, by the way, have the advantage of gaining a better grip when damp. European knives, by comparison, often become slippery when damp.

The sharpness and precision of Japanese knives ultimately also contributes to the safety of the user. Due to its sharpness, slipping off or inaccurate cutting is unlikely to happen with a Japanese knife. Another difference is the craftsmanship behind the product. The blacksmiths are experts in the field of steel processing and combination of clad steel and extremely hard blade steel. Different temperature ranges and processing temperatures must be observed, which is very difficult to learn and master. This complex manufacturing process can hardly be copied industrially.

WHAT MAKES JAPANESE KNIVES SO SPECIAL - TRADITION AND CRAFTSMANSHIP

Swords have been forged in Japan since the 15th century, the world-famous Katanas. From this tradition, the production of hand-forged Japanese knives has developed and established itself. Many traditional cutlers still make Katanas, or at least are historically associated with sword making. So the Japanese knife has a long history. The craft of knifemaking has been perfected and developed over centuries. A hand-forged Japanese knife is a cultural asset that today finds its followers not only in Japan but all over the world. At the same time, the knives from the different forges can differ greatly. In the often small and family-run craft businesses, their own philosophies have developed over the generations. For example, there are forges that produce robust Japanese knives made of classic steels and designed for performance. Other blacksmiths have optimized the handle materials used and their forging techniques over the generations to produce knives that are as light as possible and do not tire the cook. Still other blacksmiths produce visually appealing Japanese knives from the highest quality materials and high performance steels, combining tradition with careful modernization.

However, Japanese knives are more popular today than ever before, not for nostalgic reasons or just because of their tradition. Hand-forged Japanese blades have unbeatable advantages in times of industrial mass production and more than ever their raison d'être. To call Japanese knives the best knives in the world is not an exaggeration. This is due to several factors. One of the most important is certainly the steel used to forge Japanese knives. Japanese knife steel is generally much harder than conventional knife steel used in other countries. The blades of Japanese knives are therefore much harder and consequently much sharper.

This allows food to be processed as gently as possible, as the cell structure is only minimally damaged during cutting. This can be easily understood using the example of a tomato. With a conventional knife, a certain amount of pressure must often be applied to the tomato before the blade penetrates the skin and actually cuts the tomato. The result often not only looks unappetizing, but also causes the cellular structure of the tomato to be injured and more juice to escape than necessary. With a properly sharpened Japanese knife, virtually no pressure needs to be applied to a tomato to cut it. The blade immediately penetrates the flesh at the first touch and cleanly slices the tomato. The result is a clean cut, the sliced tomato looks appetizing, and less juice escapes.

The blade construction of Japanese knives is usually based on 3 layers. The extremely hard core steel is surrounded on both sides by a clad steel, which protects the blade and gives it a certain flexibility. At the cutting edge, the core steel is ground free, and the transition from clad steel to core steel can be easily seen on most Japanese knives. In addition, Japanese knives are much more ergonomically balanced than the typically relatively heavy and handle-heavy knives of conventional manufacturers in Europe and America. This means that Japanese knives often have their center of weight in the transition between the handle and blades, or even toward the blade. Due to this weight distribution, Japanese knives hardly cause any signs of fatigue even during intensive use and can be wielded very precisely. The balance of Japanese knives thus ensures that you always have the feeling that the blades can be guided safely when cutting.

In addition to the various knife steels and forging techniques, different types of knives have evolved over the centuries, which have endured to this day. As Japanese all-purpose knives, the knife types Santoku knife, Bunka knife and Gyuto knife are used. These should be part of the basic kitchen equipment. Especially for the processing of vegetables, the Nakiri knife with its characteristic, almost rectangular blade shape, is used. For fruits and vegetables, but also as a small all-purpose knife, the Petty knife is used. It usually has a shorter blade than other Japanese knife types. For boning poultry, the Honesuki knife has established itself, and for processing fish, the Sushi knife, Sujihiki knife, Funayuki knife and Kiritsuke knife types are suitable. A detailed description of the specific characteristics of all these knife types can be found in the next section.

JAPANESE KNIFE TYPES

Over the centuries, the world of Japanese knives has developed its own types of knives for virtually any cutting work.
Japanese Knives:
  • Santoku Knives
  • Gyuto Knives
  • Bunka Knives
  • Nakiri Knives
  • Petty Knives
  • Honesuki Knives
  • Kiritsuke Knives
  • Sujihiki Knives
  • Sushi Knives
  • Bread Knives
  • Deba Knives
  • Funayuki Knives
  • Japanese Chef Knives
  • Knife Sets

The basic equipment in the kitchen should in any case include a utility knife. Here, the knife types Santoku knife, Bunka knife or Gyuto knife are suitable. The typical blade lengths range from about 170mm to about 210mm. Nevertheless, there are also slightly shorter but also slightly longer blades for these knife types. Santoku knives, Bunka knives and Gyuto knives are best suited for processing fish, meat and vegetables. The typical bunka knife tip can be used well for removing skins and tendons. Japanese all-purpose knives are usually ground on both sides.

Nakiri and Petty Knives for vegetables and Fruit

For processing vegetables, the Nakiri knife has established itself. This Japanese vegetable knife is characterized by a blade length of mostly 160mm to 170mm, the shape of the blade is almost rectangular and relatively wide. The very small blade thickness of Nakiri allows very fine and precise cuts that don't crush the vegetables. The gentle processing of food is the main focus here. The Nakiri knife is also suitable for chopping vegetables and herbs. With the wide blades, vegetables and herbs can be conveniently picked up after cutting or chopping and transported to the pot or pan.

For smaller cuts and especially for peeling work and fruits, the Petty knife is perfectly suitable. The usually relatively short blades make this type of knife a handy tool in the kitchen, which is mostly used for delicate work where the blades are precisely guided. Often, the Petty knife is also used as a small all-purpose knife. The petty knife is usually ground on both sides.

HONESUKI KNIVES FOR BONING POULTRY

For processing poultry, the Honesuki knife is ideally suited. With the relatively stiff blades, poultry can be boned excellently, poultry joints can also be cut with this type of knife (Attention: Do not chop, even a Honesuki knife is not a cleaver!). The relatively narrow blade of the Honesuki knife can be precisely guided along bones, so that clean pieces of meat can be cut off. The sharp tip can also be used to precisely separate connective tissue and fat. Compact Japanese knives are best suited for this work, so the typical blade length for the Honesuki knife is about 150mm.

JAPANESE FISH KNIVES

There are also Japanese knives that are specifically designed for processing fish. These types of knives include the Sushi knife, the Sujihiki knife, the Deba Knife, the Funayuki knife and the Kiritsuke knife. All types of knives have characteristics, which make them particularly suitable for processing fresh fish. Under the designation Funayuki and Kiritsuke you can find sometimes very different knives, so you should always pay close attention to the exact description of each knife.

WHAT JAPANESE KNIFE TO BUY?

When selecting a Japanese knife, you should first consider what the knife will be used for. If you are looking for an all-rounder or a knife for basic equipment, you should choose a Japanese all-purpose knife. In this case, the Santoku knife, the Bunka knife and the Gyuto knife are the best choices. If you have more specific requirements, you can choose from various special shapes. For example, for a vegetarian who mainly processes vegetables, a Nakiri knife may be the right choice, as this is a Japanese type of knife that was specially developed for cutting and chopping vegetables and herbs. For fish lovers, there are special shapes designed for processing fish, such as the Deba knife, the Sushi knife, the Funayuki knife and the Kiritsuke knife.

It should also be taken into account that depending on the knife steel, handle material and surface structure, the prices for Japanese knives can vary greatly. A good Japanese knife can be bought for as little as 90€, but you can also find Japanese knives for several thousand euros on the market. In this context, you should also consider how important the appearance of a Japanese knife is to you. Simple knives, which perform excellently, look less spectacular due to the generally simpler materials than luxuriously executed Japanese knives with special surface structures and noble handle woods. On the other hand, the simpler Japanese knives are usually less expensive than very artistically made knives, some of which are bought as collector's items.

A basic decision should also be made regarding the desired knife steel. Roughly speaking, you have the choice between traditional knife steels, modern knife steels, and innovative hybrid knife steels. Traditional knife steels usually achieve very high degrees of hardness and a corresponding sharpness. Modern knife steels are easier to maintain due to their corrosion resistance, but they do not achieve the hardness and sharpness potential of traditional knife steels. In addition, there are innovative hybrid knife steels such as HAP40 and ATS-34, which achieve extreme degrees of hardness and sharpening potential, but still have very good corrosion resistance. More details on Japanese knife steel can be found in the following section.

JAPANESE KNIFE STEELS

Japanese knife steel is valued worldwide for its outstanding properties. When choosing a Japanese knife, the knife steel should be one of the decisive criteria. Basically, Japanese knife steels differ in terms of hardness, sharpness, cutting edge retention and corrosion resistance.

Traditional steels include Shirogami 1 (White #1), Shirogami 2 (White #2), Aogami Super, Aogami 1 (Blue #1) and Aogami 2 (Blue #2). The great advantage of these steels is their very high hardness and corresponding sharpness. A well-sharpened Japanese knife with one of these traditional core steels will always outperform a conventional Western knife in terms of sharpness and hardness. These traditional knife steels are characterized by a relatively high carbon content. Accordingly, these steels are not stainless and must be cared for properly (click here for knife care instructions). After use, blades made of these steels should always be rinsed and dried by hand.

More modern knife steels such as VG10, AUS10 and Ginsan steel offer the advantages of being less susceptible to rusting and are therefore often offered as stainless. However, it should be noted that even a supposedly stainless steel can certainly corrode, whether through cleaning in the dishwasher or permanent moisture. Even conventional supposedly stainless Western knives from well-known manufacturers may well show the familiar rust spots on the blade after a rinsing process in the dishwasher. The low-maintenance Japanese knife steels are generally more flexible and less porous than the carbon steels described above. On the other hand, blades made of these steels are less hard.ements, or welcome customers to your store.

Last but not least we would like to mention the high-performance steels, which combine the best of the carbon and stainless steel worlds: extreme hardness and sharpness combined with rust resistance. These include the HAP40, ATS-34 and ZDP189 steels. These knife steels are still relatively new on the market and are just beginning their triumphant advance. We have already tested these knife steels and are convinced that they will establish themselves in the world of Japanese knives.

HAP40 is a powder metallurgy steel that achieves extreme hardness levels of up to 68 HRC. At the same time, it is extremely edge-holding. This Japanese knife steel keeps its sharpness 3 - 5 times longer than conventional knife steels! In addition, HAP40 knife steel is hardly susceptible to rust, which makes it a low-maintenance alternative to other knife steels with similar hardness grades.

ATS-34 knife steel is also a comparatively modern steel. It reaches hardness levels of up to 64 HRC, making it comparable in hardness to traditional White #1, White #2, Aogami Super and Blue #2 knife steels. At the same time, however, this steel is hardly susceptible to corrosion, which makes it an excellent alternative for anyone looking for a knife with a high degree of hardness and extreme sharpness. At the same time, knives made of ATS-34 steel are easy to take care of.

ZDP-189 is the hardest powder metallurgy stainless steel currently available. Of all powder metallurgical steels, this steel contains the highest content of alloying elements (the carbon and chromium content of 3.00% and 20.00% can hardly be compared with other knife steels). It's highly resistant to corrosion, easy to maintain and extremely hard. At the same time, ZDP189 knives provide excellent edge retention.

Japanese Knife Care - tips for a long knife life

Taking care of a Japanese knife is not difficult. If a few tips are followed, you will have years of pleasure with a Japanese knife. By the way, our knife care tips do not only apply to Japanese knives, but can be used for all knives.

Tip 1 - The cutting board: Plastic pads or wooden boards are always preferable to very hard cutting pads. Soft wooden boards in particular ensure that the sharp cutting edge of the knife keeps its sharpness longer.

Tip 2 - Cleaning: A knife should never be cleaned in the dishwasher. The knife handles, which are often made of wood, can swell up there and the blade will rust more quickly. It is best to clean your knife directly after use with lukewarm water, a fine sponge or cloth and a little dishwashing liquid. After rinsing, the knife should be dried directly.

Tip 3 - Storage: You should not store your Japanese knives in a drawer with many other knives, there is always a risk of damage. Wooden knife blocks, the supplied knife box or knife bags are recommended.

Tip 4 - Sharpening: Even a Japanese knife will wear out over time and will then need to be resharpened. For this you should always use water sharpening stones, sharpening steels should be kept away from Japanese knives! Depending on the condition of the blade, different sharpening stones are recommended. In the next section you will find more details on how to sharpen Japanese knives properly.

Sharpening Japanese Knives

Sharpening a Japanese knife is not complicated. With a little practice, you can keep your Japanese knives in a perfectly sharpened condition even without prior experience. Please always use a water sharpening stone to sharpen a Japanese knife. Sharpening steels and other grinding devices are not recommended. A water whetstone for Japanese knives is inexpensive, durable and easy to use. Depending on how much a blade is worn, the right whetstone should be chosen. A heavily worn blade should be pre-sharpened with a slightly coarser grit to create a basic grind. With an existing basic grind or only slightly worn blade, a very fine to ultra-fine grit can be used for fine grinding. With these grits, the maximum sharpening potential is extracted from the blade of a Japanese knife. The water sharpening stones and sharpening stone sets we offer have been extensively tested with our Japanese knives and are recommended by us without reservation. The respective product descriptions indicate which whetstones or whetstone sets are best suited for which requirements. Here is a detailed sharpening guide for Japanese knives.

With our sharpening stone sets you are fully equipped and can produce both basic and fine grinding. The whetstone sets are supplied in a practical storage box.

We also offer our individual stones in fine, very fine and ultra-fine grit for basic grinding and fine grinding of Japanese knives. There are also differences in size, material and structure of the stone materials. In the individual product descriptions you can learn more about the specific properties of the individual water sharpening stones.

The best Japanese knife

The best Japanese knife is the knife that best suits your needs. Based on five characteristics, you can decide which Japanese knife is the best choice for you:

1. How often do I use my Japanese knife:
If a Japanese knife is used frequently, there will be a corresponding strain on the material of the handle and blade. Accordingly, it is essential to pay attention to an appropriate quality of workmanship when buying a Japanese knife. Only an excellent quality of craftsmanship ensures that your Japanese knife is a long-lasting tool for the kitchen. All knives in our store are made by traditional cutlers who have mastered their craft to perfection. With proper care, all of our knives will be a long-lasting companion in all cooking situations.

2. What do i use my Japanese knife for:
Depending on what a Japanese knife is mainly used for, different types of knives are available. Santoku knives, Bunka knives and Gyuto knives are mostly used as all-purpose knives. A special form of Japanese knife is the Nakiri knife, it is mainly used for vegetables. For small cuts and for fruit and peeling work, usually slightly shorter Petty knives are used. If you mainly want to process fish with your Japanese knife, the Funayuki knife, Deba knife and Kiritsuke knife are the best choice. If you like to prepare sushi dishes yourself or process fish in general, you should have a look at our Sushi knives and Sujihiki knives.

3. The sharpness of my Japanese knife:
As described in our section on Japanese knife steels, the different Japanese knife steels also have different sharpening potentials, hold their sharpness for different lengths of time, and are different in terms of maintenance. The most extreme sharpness can be achieved with the traditional carbon steels Shirogami and Aogami, as well as with the high-performance steels ATS-34 and HAP40. The AUS10, GIN3 and VG10 steels have less extreme sharpening potential, but are easier to maintain and therefore no less popular.

4. The appearance of my Japanese knife:
This point is not to be neglected, because I prefer to use an item that I like more often than one that does not appeal to me visually. The world of Japanese knives is very diverse, and if you scroll through our product range, you will notice that the designs of the individual knifemakers also vary greatly. Thus, there are classic and plain Japanese knives, but also artfully forged Japanese knives, where exclusive woods are processed in the handle and the blade is given a special hammered surface structure. In the end, personal taste should be the deciding factor here as well.

5. Ergonomics with my Japanese knife:
Decisive for the selection of the best Japanese knife is also how safe you feel when working with the knife. This feeling of safety is also a question of ergonomics. This is mainly influenced by the balance of the knife, the shape and feel of the handle as well as the weight and size of the knife. The knives in our range are excellently balanced, so our blades can be wielded safely and precisely. When it comes to the handle, there are different shapes and finishes. Some customers prefer natural handles without edges, others prefer octagonal, lacquered handles. The size of a Japanese knife is mainly based on what food is to be processed with the knife. For large cabbages or pieces of meat, one will use a larger blade than for finely chopping an onion. Regardless of the size, however, the knife steel used also has an influence on the weight of Japanese knives. For example, Misuzu knives feel significantly lighter than comparably sized Kisuke knives.

How much should a Japanese knife cost? - Most expensive Japanese knife

Japanese knives come in all price ranges. Absolute entry-level knives can be bought for under €70, and knives for over €1,000 are not hard to find. In extreme cases, six-figure sums are called for absolute exclusive models. However, these are more art objects and exclusive collector's items than tools for cooking.

We think that a good Japanese knife does not have to be exorbitantly expensive. With simple but good material, a blacksmith can make a very good knife, which can be offered for about 80€ to 100€. Such a knife can have a blade of very good steel and be excellently forged, the handle will usually be made of simple wood. An example of such a knife is the Yoshimitsu White #1 Bunka with a blade length of 175mm and Ho-wood handle. This is a simple but excellent performing knife. Compared to knives of conventional western manufacturers with similar price level, in our opinion such a Japanese knife is preferable anytime. This knife is excellently balanced, has an excellent core steel that can be sharpened very sharp, and is quite sufficient for most purposes.

A more elaborately forged knife is, for example, the Kisuke ATS-34 Gyuto with 180mm blade length and rosewood handle. This steel has a special position in the world of Japanese knives, apart from Kisuke Manaka we know of no smith who forges this steel into 3-layer Japanese blades. The high hardness levels and extreme sharpness combined with corrosion resistance make these blades special. The hammered Tsuchime surface of the blade and the high quality rosewood handles are further features that make this knife more valuable and accordingly more expensive.

So depending on the steel, forging effort, blade material and handle, the price of Japanese knives can vary significantly. In our store we do not offer art objects, but high quality tools for the kitchen. A good Japanese knife does not have to be exorbitantly expensive. A simply made knife can provide faithful service for many years and does not have to be expensive. Nevertheless, it can be stated that high performance steel, higher quality handle material or blade finish are also reflected in the handling of a Japanese knife and a higher price also always has its justification.

JAPANESE KNIVES IN TEST - WHAT IS OUR PRODUCT RANGE?

Our assortment is intended to show a large cross-section of the world of Japanese knives. Therefore, we have different knifemakers in the program, which all stand for a slightly different philosophy. From pure tradition to cautiously modern, we have Japanese knives in our assortment that have emerged from different philosophies. We carry all common Japanese knife types - in the store you will find Japanese Chef Knives (such as Santoku knives, Bunka knives, Gyuto knives), Nakiri knives, Bread Knives, Deba Knives, Petty knives, Honesuki knives, Sushi knives, Sujihiki knives, Funayuki knives and Kiritsuke knives. This ensures that the right blade type is available for every requirement.
We also have a wide range of steels in our assortment, from the traditional Shirogami and Aogami steels (White #1, White #2, Blue #2, Aogami Super), to the low-maintenance and more modern steels (AUS10, VG10, Gin3), to innovative high-performance steels such as HAP40, ATS34 and ZDP189. The goal is also to offer a good selection for every budget. So you can find knives for under 100€ for a solid all-purpose knife up to 400€ for an absolute high-end knife for professional demands.
Our range is complemented by suitable grinding accessories. With our water sharpening stones, you have the right sharpening stone for Japanese knives for (almost) every blade condition.

Japanese knife sets - which knives do you need?

Depending on your own eating and cooking habits, you should have different knives available. Basically, most requirements should be covered with 3 knives. A Japanese all-purpose knife with a blade length of approx. 170mm to 210mm should be part of every basic equipment. Santoku knives, Bunka knives and Gyuto knives are particularly suitable here - everyone should own one of these Japanese knife types! In most cases, it is a good idea to add a paring knife to your knife collection. The Japanese vegetable knife is called a Nakiri knife and has an almost rectangular blade with usually about 160mm to 170mm blade length. A smaller knife for processing fruit or smaller cuts is also a good choice. Petty knives are best suited for this, delicate work can be done perfectly with them. If you regularly cut large pieces of food, e.g. for the weekly barbecue, you can also use a larger blade with a blade length of approx. 240mm. With this, even the somewhat coarser work can be done easily and safely.