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japanese kitchen knives





Japanese Kitchen Knives

There are a number of different types of Japanese kitchen knives. The most commonly used types in the Japanese kitchen are the deba bocho (kitchen cleaver), nakiri bocho and usuba bocho (Japanese vegetable knives), and the tako hiki and yanagi ba (sashimi slicers).

Nowadays stainless steel is often used for the knives. Traditionally however, these knives were made from the same carbon steel as katana, and the most expensive knives have a similar quality, containing an inner core of hard steel, with a thick layer of soft steel wrapped around it so that the hard steel is exposed only at the cutting edge.

Most of the high-quality Japanese cutlery originates from Sakai. The production of knives started in the 16th century, when tobacco was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese, and Sakai started to make knives for cutting tobacco. The Sakai knives industry received a major boost from the Tokugawa shogunate (1603 - 1868), which granted Sakai a special seal of approval and enhanced its reputation for quality (and according to some references a monopoly). During the Edo period (1603 - 1867) (or more precisely the Genroku era (1688-1704)) the first deba bocho were manufactured, soon followed by a wide range of other styles. Making kitchen knives and related products is still a major industry in Sakai.

(1) is sharpened on both sides, (2) and (3) only on one side, where (2) is for right hand use and (3) is for left hand use.

Different from western knives, Japanese knives are often forged in a way that only one side holds the cutting edge, i.e. the bevel is only on one side. As shown in the image, some Japanese knives are sharpened from both sides, and others are sharpened only from one side, with the other side of the blade being flat. It is believed that a blade sharpened only on one side cuts better and makes cleaner cuts, but requires more skill in its use than a blade sharpened on both sides. Usually, the right hand side of the blade is sharpened, as most people use the knife with their right hand. Blades for left-handed use are also available, although they are usually more expensive.

Recently F.A. Porsche-designed Japanese steel Chroma kitchen knives have become popular.




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