Undoubtedly, Japanese knives are amongst the most popular on the market. This comes with a valid reason. Thanks to their excellent craftsmanship, Japanese knives are typically fitted with much thinner and lighter blades to make them extremely sharper than western knives.
Yet, they remain robust enough to retain their edge for longer. Moreover, their light profile gives you a more balanced feel when in use, making them popular amongst chefs. Nevertheless, Japanese knives remain to be amongst the market’s most expensive knives.
However, it must dawn on you that if Japanese knives are made in Japan, does it make them more affordable there? My exhaustive guide answers the question of whether or not Japanese knives are expensive in Japan.
This Is Why Japanese Knives Are Cheaper in Japan
Japanese knives are cheaper in Japan due to the reduced costs compared to other countries. When you purchase Japanese knives in Japan, costs associated with shipping, customs, and import/export taxes are eliminated.
Moreover, the high exchange rates that add up to the cost are not factored in since you are buying locally with local currency. So, while Japanese knives are still expensive overall, the cost is significantly less when purchased in Japan.
The History of Japanese Knives
Japanese knives trace back their roots to the 794 to 1185 AD period during the Heian era. The knives were an important part of the aristocratic cuisine and were used on special occasions to slice up and serve food, particularly meat and fish. During this time only knives and chopsticks were used.
As part of the serving of the food, the royal chef never made direct contact when slicing up the food, showcasing their deft handy skill while avoiding contaminating the emperor’s food.
However, other sources also add that Japanese knives were inspired by the sword, emulating its sharpness and edge retention.
Why Are Japanese Knives So Expensive?
Japanese knives are expensive due to several factors. Their high cost is associated with the intense labor put into crafting and welding together multiple steel layers along with the use of high-end materials.
The price goes even higher when Japanese knives are sold in foreign countries due to import/export costs, customs, taxes, and high exchange rates.
Typically, Japanese knives are made in small batches as they are handcrafted with the highest attention to detail. Most knives are usually made by a blade master artisan supported by 2 to 4 students.
How Much Does a Japanese Knife Cost in Japan?
In Japan, a Japanese knife will cost you anywhere between $8 and $400, or even higher. Many factors play a role in determining the price. These include the choice of materials used, the amount of time and labor put into crafting the knife, and the artisan’s skill, to mention a few.
Is It Possible to Buy a Japanese Knife Reasonably Online?
You can find pretty good Japanese knife options online at an affordable price. Similar to buying knives in physical stores, the price of an online Japanese knife will also be affected by similar factors, such as materials and labor efforts.
What Steel Do They Use for Their Knives?
High carbon stainless steel is a popular material for Japanese knives. The high carbon content in this material gives it a high HRC level (about 60 to 61). High carbon stainless steel also gives the knife a super sharp edge, longer lasting edge, and is quite easy to resharpen compared to other metals, such as stainless steel or steel.
Can You Bring a Kitchen Knife From Japan to Your Country?
You can bring a kitchen knife with you from Japan. However, you have to package it well in its original packaging/box and travel with it as checked luggage (instead of check-in luggage). It is also a good idea to check with your airline for more instructions if any.
Are Japanese or German Knives Better?
The choice of whether Japanese or German knives are better depends entirely on your needs. If you want to handle tough jobs, the robust nature of German knives makes them ideal.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy precise cutting, the ultra-thin, sharp, and edge-retaining blades in Japanese knives make them a better choice.
Are Japanese Knives Worth Their Price?
Japanese knives are certainly worth the price if you enjoy quality craftsmanship and excellent results in the kitchen. In addition to the time put into crafting these knives and the quality of materials used, these knives come with so many other perks.
They boast a thin and sharp blade, a longer-lasting edge, and great balance. All these are qualities appreciated by cooks of all levels, whether a beginner or seasoned professional chef.
What Are Some Famous Japanese Kitchen Knives?
Some of the most popular Japanese kitchen knife brands include Shun, Mac, Global, Dalstrong, and Sakai Takayuki, to name a few.
Here are some of the best top-rated Japanese knives you should have in your kitchen this year;
Shun Cutlery Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Lightweight and agile is what comes to mind when you think of the Shun Cutlery Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife. It’s these qualities that enhance the knife’s versatility, making it perfect for slicing, dicing, and chopping different food items.
The 8-inch Japanese chef’s knife features a razor-sharp carbon steel blade paired with a contoured Pakkawood handle for the perfect grip.
The knife’s functionality extends to its beautiful exterior. Its hammered tsuchime finish doesn’t only give it a distinctive look. It also creates grooves that allow for easy food release when cutting. Its thinner and lighter blade gives it a clean look while allowing for balanced, strain-free performance.
Mac Knife Professional 8-inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife
The Mac Knife Professional Chef’s Knife features a heavy-duty build, allowing you to tackle different types of food. Yet, it remains light enough to make it easy to handle for hours on.
The knife is fitted with a 2.5mm wide blade with a dimpled edge, allowing it to easily glide through food, even sticky foods like potatoes.
The knife is also fitted with a steel bolster to make it more comfortable and safe to use. In fact, the knife’s well thought-out safe design and heavy-duty finish make it a great option for beginners and professional chefs alike.
Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife
The Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife features all stainless steel construction, from blade to handle. Its stainless steel blade is ultra-light and offers exceptional sharpness, easily cutting through different food types.
The stainless steel material boasts a combination of high-tech molybdenum and vanadium for incredible edge retention. Moreover, the material also gives the knife impressive resistance to staining and corrosion.
On the end of the chef’s knife is the stainless steel handle with molded dimples to enhance its grip and comfort further. To give you even more value for your money, the chef’s knife comes with a lifetime warranty.
Looking beyond their price, everything about Japanese knives makes them worth the investment. Whether it’s the blade’s ultra thinness, lightness, and sharpness, its edge retaining abilities, or the knife’s balance, Japanese knives add value to your kitchen.
Plus, if you want to get a hold of these kitchen gems, you can always opt for purchasing them directly in or from Japan – cutting down the steep import/export costs, taxes, customs, and high currency exchange rates. Alternatively, you can shop for a wide variety of these knives online.
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